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.

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