Beijing has dismissed “rumors” by the mainstream media that Westerners may be used as hostages in future diplomatic disputes, against the backdrop of the release of two Canadians detained in China for spying.
At a regular press briefing in China’s capital on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the West and its media were simply trying to stir up negative feelings and slander China.
“It is exactly the same as the absurd rumors that some people in the United States and the West are accustomed to making, inciting appalling rumors on China-related issues,” she said.
The spokeswoman added that foreigners were safe in China and that one must remember the two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were taken into custody about three years ago were criminals. They had written confessions and even repented, she said.
On Saturday, the Canadian government released a top executive of the Chinese communications giant Huawei held in the country, a move that prompted the release of the two Canadian nationals. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou flew home to China on Friday after Ottawa reached an agreement with US prosecutors to end the bank fraud case against her. “Over the last three years my life has been turned upside down,” Meng was reported as saying before leaving the Canadian soil.
The two Canadians had been arrested on accusations of espionage on December 10, 2018, just nine days after Wanzhou’s detention in Canada.
Meng, the 49-year-old daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, had been fighting against extradition to the US since she was arrested in Vancouver nearly three years ago.
Meng was charged with misleading the HSBC bank on Huawei’s dealings with Iran. She and the Chinese telecom giant dismissed the allegation.
In 2019, former US President Donald Trump accused Huawei of threatening America’s national security and announced that the US had blacklisted the Chinese company, banning it from accessing US technology.
Relations between the US and China have grown tense in recent years, with the world’s two largest economies clashing over a range of issues, including trade, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Hong Kong, military activities in the South China Sea as well as the origins of the new coronavirus.