China condemns Trudeau's remarks about Canadian's death sentence

China condemns Trudeau's remarks about Canadian's death sentence

Trudeau expressed "extreme concern" after Canadian national Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, convicted of smuggling over 222 kilograms of methamphetamine, was sentenced to death by a Chinese court on Monday.

Acting Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham said on ABC Radio on Wednesday the Australian government was "deeply concerned with this case".

"I won't comment specifically, because I may have a role down the road, but I will say that we are a rule of law country, and it's one of our most important principles and as minister of justice and attorney general for Canada I will always act to protect the rule of law", he told CBC News.

China said on Wednesday it's "not anxious in the slightest" by mounting worldwide concern over the death sentence handed to a Canadian for drug smuggling.

Schellenberg's sentence has further strained relations between China and Canada, already aggravated by the December arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, on a USA extradition request as part of an investigation into suspected violations of US trade sanctions.

Last week, Trudeau accused China of "arbitrarily and unfairly" detaining former diplomat Michael Kovrig and business consultant Michael Spavor, who were rounded up nine days after Canada arrested Meng.

The formal request for Robert Schellenberg was given to China's ambassador to Canada.

As tensions increase between democracies and China with the abrupt decision by Chinese court to execute a Canadian citizen on drug smuggling charges, Beijing has also reportedly been cautioning state-run companies and their employees in recent weeks to avoid travel to the United States and allied nations, like Canada.

The ministry later issued its own travel warning, citing the " arbitrary detention" of a Chinese national in Canada.

"We really understand how hard the situation is, and I think the Schellenberg family has our country's sympathy".

State media has played up coverage of his case following the deterioration in relations with Canada.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denied Beijing had politicised Schellenberg's case, calling on Canada to "respect China's judicial sovereignty... and stop making such irresponsible remarks".

"We express our strong dissatisfaction with this, " Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.

"It was a very emotional conversation", she says.

Schellenberg's defense lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.

Zhang said there was insufficient evidence to prove Schellenberg was part of a drug syndicate, or that he was involved in smuggling methamphetamines.

"China is going to face lots of questions about why this particular person, of this particular nationality, had to be retried at this particular time", Human Rights Watch's Washington-based China director Sophie Richardson told Reuters.

Beijing has brushed off the global outcry over Schellenberg's case as insignificant.

She rhymed off a list of countries - Germany, France, the Netherlands, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia - for "publicly coming out and speaking against these arbitrary detentions".

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