Wed, 27 Mar 2019

China said Wednesday a former Canadian diplomat to China who was arrested in Beijing Monday was detained on charges of jeopardizing China's national security.

Michael Kovrig was arrested on suspicions of 'engaging in activities that endanger' the country's security, China's official news media reported without elaborating.

Previous reports said Kovrig was arrested for reasons that were unclear.

Kovrig was detained less than a week after Canada angered the Chinese government when it announced the arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he would intervene in the case against Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou if it means reaching a trade deal with China.

'Whatever's good for the country, I would do,' Trump told Reuters.'If I think it's good for what will certainly be the largest trade deal ever made, which is a very important thing. What's good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.'

Trump said while 'my people' have spoken with China about the case, he has yet to discuss it with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Canadian police, acting on a U.S. warrant, arrested Meng at the Vancouver airport nearly two weeks ago on allegations of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

A judge freed her on bail late Tuesday while she awaits a hearing on extradition to the United States.

Judge William Ehrcke set bail at $7.5 million and imposed several conditions on Meng. They include that she remain in British Columbia, live in a house her husband owns, and not leave that house between 11 at night and six in the morning. Meng will also be under 24 hour-a-day surveillance.

Meng is chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunication giant, Huawei Technologies - a company founded by her father and one of the world's biggest manufacturers of mobile phones. Her family is worth billions of dollars.

U.S. officials say Meng lied to banks about Huawei's control of Hong Kong-based Skycom - a company that allegedly sold U.S. goods to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against Tehran.

If convicted in the United States, Meng faces up to 30 years in prison.

Her arrest has infuriated China, calling it 'extremely bad.' China summoned the U.S. ambassador Sunday to lodge a formal protest.

Kovrig is currently the Northeast Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group, which researches peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

An International Crisis Group statement said, 'We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Kovrig's whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release.' Rob Malley, the head of the Brussels-based group, said Kovrig was not in China for any reason that would endanger Chinese national security.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he was 'deeply concerned' about Kovrig's detention, but said there is 'no explicit indication at this moment' that his arrest is in reaction to the Meng case.

But Guy Saint-Jacques, Ottawa's former ambassador to Beijing, disputes that notion. 'In China there is no coincidence,' he told reporters. China had vowed that Canada would suffer serious consequences over Meng's arrest.

VOA Mandarin Service contributed to this report.

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