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Canadian leader Justin Trudeau has contacted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to try to shore up support in applying pressure on China in an escalating diplomatic feud between the two nations.
The pair discussed the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China, as part of what appears to be a worldwide push by Trudeau to apply pressure on the People’s Republic.
They also talked about the extradition case of a Huawei executive in Canada.
Ardern was not available for comment, but a spokeswoman for duty minister Grant Robertson confirmed that the Prime Minister had a “brief conversation” with Trudeau yesterday.
“They discussed the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China.
“Although the cases are a consular matter between Canada and China - as the extradition case relates to a Huawei executive in Canada - there are principles at stake that concern us all,” the spokeswoman said.
She added that the Government closely monitors international developments which may affect the safety of New Zealanders abroad, but advice for travel to China was to exercise normal safety and security precautions.
Earlier, Trudeau’s office confirmed to The New Zealand Herald the pair had spoken.
“The prime ministers discussed the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China and the need for all countries to respect judicial procedure and rule of law,” a spokesperson said.
“The leaders also exchanged perspectives on shared priorities, including their commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.”
The spokesperson said the two leaders agreed to remain in close contact on these and other matters, with a view to continue to strengthen relations between the two countries.
Earlier this week, a Canadian citizen in China was sentenced to death after he was convicted of drug-smuggling.
The Dalian Intermediate People's Court in China's northeast province of Liaoning re-tried Schellenberg, who had appealed his original 15-year prison sentence, and decided on execution, the court said.
Trudeau suggested that China had used its judicial system to pressure Canada over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder.
“I will say that it is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case, facing a Canadian,” he told reporters on Monday.
As well as speaking to Ardern, he also talked to Argentinian President Mauricio Macri on Monday.
Trudeau had also received support from other allies, including the United States, the European Union, France, Germany, Britain and Australia.