Tensions continue to increase in the recent developments involving Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and the governments of Canada and the US.
The espionage accusation followed Canada’s approval of the extradition hearing for Huawei’s CFO, an arrest that enraged China.
A statement released on Monday from the Chinese government’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission indicated that, “Kovrig’s alleged behavior of gathering and stealing secrets and other intelligence for a foreign power has seriously violated Chinese laws.”
Kovrig and Spavor were detained in China in December 2018, just a week after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, Canada.
Kovrig was a former Canadian diplomat and the North East Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group. He is an expert on issues involving international relations with North Korea and regarding the South China Sea. The Chinese government said that Kovrig used an ordinary passport and a business visa to enter the country which thus revoked any privilege of diplomatic immunity.
Spavor is a businessman with high-level connections in Pyongyang, North Korea. He has supported and called for company investments in North Korea’s economic projects.
Lawyers and family members have not been allowed to visit Spavor and Kovrig since their arrest. Only select diplomats were given permission to visit them a visit once a month.
Huawei’s next move
Following the controversial arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei has expressed intentions to file a lawsuit against the US government in relation to the heated dispute over trade and telecommunications contracts.
Meng was arrested on charges of fraud related to a violation of America’s sanctions against Iran. Her lawyers intend to sue the Canadian government for violating her constitutional rights following her arrest in Vancouver.
Last year, US President Trump approved a law restricting Huawei and ZTE Corp.’s access to contracts from the US government and military. This year, US lawmakers proposed a ban on selling US tech to Chinese companies that violated export laws.
The US has also accused Huawei along with other Chinese tech manufacturers of producing equipment that can be used to spy on international users and steal state intelligence research, an accusation vehemently denied by Beijing and the companies in question.
Huawei is currently the world’s largest producer of telecommunications equipment and the second largest manufacturer of smartphones.