U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday the response by the United States to China detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive has not been strong enough.
Graham also told Munich Security Conference delegates the international reaction to China’s arrest of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor hasn’t been enough to persuade China that its apparent use of hostage diplomacy won’t be tolerated.
“The president has been tough on China but this is one area where I think we need to make a more definitive statement because the two people arrested in China had nothing to do with the rule of law. It was just grabbing two Canadians,” Graham said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who appeared on the panel with Graham, mouthed the words “thank you” to Graham after he said it. Roland Paris, one of the delegates and a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked Graham about it.
U.S. ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft said last Saturday her country is “deeply concerned” about China’s “unlawful” detention of the two Canadians in what was her first public comments on the cases since China detained them on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.
Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
China also re-sentenced a convicted Canadian drug smuggler, Robert Schellenberg, to death after the Meng arrest as part of an apparent campaign of intimidation and retribution against Canada.