American officials on Monday denounced China’s decision to go forward with the trials. “The charges are a blatant attempt to use human beings as bargaining leverage,” a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Beijing said in a statement. “The practice of arbitrary detention to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable.”

China has defended its handling of the cases, saying that the Canadians broke Chinese law.

“Chinese judicial organs handle cases independently in accordance with the law and fully guarantee the lawful rights of the individuals concerned,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a news briefing in Beijing on Friday.

View Source

Michael Spavor, Canadian Accused of Spying, Stands Trial in China

The issue of the Canadians was expected to come up as top Biden administration officials met their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage starting on Thursday. Friends and relatives of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig have called on President Biden and Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to take action to secure their release.

American officials said on Friday that they were “deeply alarmed” by China’s decision to go forward with the trials of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Canada in calling for their immediate release,” a spokesman for the United States Embassy in Beijing said in a statement.

Any compromise with Beijing could be elusive, as China has not shown signs of backing down, instead using its prosecution of the two men to project an image of strength and demand that the United States withdraw its extradition request for Ms. Meng.

“Beijing is making it clear that the two Michaels will be put on trial with Chinese characteristics: closed to the public and to the media,” said Diana Fu, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “Its actions leave little doubt about who the ultimate decider of the Canadians’ fate will be — the Chinese Communist Party, not Biden, not Trudeau.”

The imprisonment of the two men has spurred calls in Canada for tougher action against China. According to a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute, a leading polling company, only 14 percent of Canadians have a favorable view of China. A majority view the Chinese government’s freeing the two Canadians as a prerequisite to resetting relations.

“There is a backlash against China in Canada, and the trial will only harden attitudes,” said Gordon Houlden, director emeritus of the University of Alberta China Institute. He added that the case of the two Michaels underlined the limited leverage of a middle power like Canada when faced with an economic and political behemoth like China.

Legal experts and human rights activists have denounced China’s treatment of the Canadians, accusing Chinese officials of resorting to “hostage diplomacy.” The two men, held in separate prisons in northern China, have been largely cut off from the world and at times forced to go months without visits from diplomats. They have had limited access to defense lawyers.

View Source

Canadians to Stand Trial in China for Spying: What We Know

The Chinese government has signaled that it will soon begin trials of two Canadian men held in China for more than two years on vague charges of espionage, escalating a punitive campaign against Canada.

China plans to go forward with the trials, Canadian officials said, despite global pressure to release the two men, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a business consultant, who have been held largely in isolation since they were detained in 2018.

The prosecution of the two men is widely seen as retribution for Canada’s decision in 2018 to arrest Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, at the request of the United States. The start of the Mr. Spavor’s trial, on Friday, coincides with the first meeting of senior American and Chinese officials since President Biden took office in January, amid tensions over technology, defense and other issues.

Mr. Kovrig’s trial is to start Monday,

Here’s what to expect.

Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor have been caught up in a broader geopolitical struggle involving China, Canada and the United States.

increasingly aggressive foreign policy in recent years, and experts say the detention of the two Canadians is part of a campaign by Beijing to show that it will not give in to demands from Western countries.

Officials in Canada and the United States have accused China of holding the two Canadians as a bargaining chip to win the release of Ms. Meng, the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of Huawei and one of China’s most prominent businessmen.

Vina Nadjibulla, the wife of Mr. Kovrig, said in a telephone interview. “This is the moment. We are running out of time.”

Dan Bilefsky contributed reporting. Albee Zhang contributed research.

View Source