Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister has denied any link between the government’s efforts to free two Canadian prisoners in China and Ottawa’s prolonged delay in making a decision regarding Huawei and 5G telecommunications equipment.
A new report from Global News explains that Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s comments come after the UK officially banned Huawei 5G equipment from its telecom network.
It’s no secret that Canada is the last remaining member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network — which also includes the US, UK Australia, and New Zealand — to not at least restrict Huawei’s involvement in one way or another.
“There’s really no link between the two,”” said Champagne, referring to the two aforementioned issues.
“One is … we take the decision to protect the national security and the best interest of Canadians, and the other one is to continue to advocate for two Canadians which have been arbitrarily detained,” he said.
When recently asked what measures Canada is taking to obtain the prisoners’ freedom, the minister said that the US government is crucial in negotiation a resolution with China
“I think we need to also look towards Washington, because this all started there and certainly we are working with our American allies to try to see what more can be done,” Champagne said.
“And more broadly, I’ve been talking to make sure we’re looking with our allies around the world about an international protocol to prevent, to the extent possible, arbitrary detention — talking with like-mindeds to make sure that … whatever state who wants to engage with arbitrary detention would be facing consequences for their action.”
Champagne says he’s been dealing with the issue of the prisoners’ detention “almost on a daily basis” and his priority remains to achieve their “immediate release.”
“This is not only now a Canadian issue, it has become a world issue and I’m sure that China is taking notice, that this is hurting (themselves)… that arbitrary detention is not the way to resolve conflict in 2020,” Champagne said.
“We will be relentless and we will use every opportunity to advocate for the release and to get consular access in accordance with the Vienna convention.”