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.
Politics will hang over the trials.
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.