Canadians urged to exercise caution in China amid ‘arbitrary enforcement’ of laws

Global Affairs Canada is warning Canadians who travel to China to be wary of the risk of “arbitrary enforcement” of laws amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

However, the Canadian government isn’t changing the risk level in its China travel advisory at this time.

“We continue to advise all Canadians travelling to China to exercise a high degree of caution; this risk level remains unchanged,” Global Affairs said in a statement on Monday.

“We are constantly evaluating our travel advice for Canadians travelling to China, as we do for all countries around the world. As part of this evaluation, we are today updating our Travel Advice and Advisory for China,” the statement continued.

“We encourage Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

The statement comes the same day that Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for drug smuggling charges in China.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the sentence was a case of China “choosing to act arbitrarily” and added that China was refusing to follow international principles.

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our friends and allies, that China has begun to arbitrarily apply (the) death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian,” Trudeau said at a press conference.

Two other Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, remain detained in China after being arrested on suspicion of endangering national security.

Trudeau said Monday that Kovrig, a former diplomat, was entitled to diplomatic immunity. Chinese officials disagreed, saying he entered the country on a regular passport and business visa.

Their detention came in the wake of Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the behest of U.S. authorities who are seeking her extradition to face fraud charges.

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