CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Ex-Canadian envoy detained
International Crisis Group violated NGO laws: FM
Published: Dec 12, 2018 10:28 PM
China's Foreign Ministry said that the organization a former Canadian diplomat works for has not registered in the Chinese mainland, indicating that its employees' activities in the mainland have violated Chinese laws.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks at Wednesday's routine press conference, following reports that Michael Kovrig, a senior adviser of the International Crisis Group (ICG) and former Canadian diplomat, is allegedly being detained in China.

Kovrig has been under investigation by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of State  Security on suspicion of jeopardizing China's national security since Monday, The Beijing News reported late Wednesday.

"I have no information to provide on the alleged detention, but if it's true, related departments will deal with it according to laws and regulations," Lu said.

As for the ICG, it did not register in the Chinese mainland. Thus, its employees' activities in the mainland have violated Chinese law on overseas NGO management, Lu said.

According to the ICG's website, Kovrig is its senior adviser for Northeast Asia, and he conducts research and provides analysis on foreign affairs and global security issues, particularly on China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula. He previously served as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and at the UN in New York.

The alleged detention happened amid Canada's detention of Chinese technology firm Huawei's senior executive Meng Wanzhou under the US' request, and some foreign media have speculated that China did it in retaliation.

"Calling the alleged detention a retaliation is typical tit-for-tat thinking of the US, but China would not act like that. We would deal with it case by case," Li Haidong, a professor at the Beijing-based China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The ICG has violated Chinese law. Thus, even if the detention was true, it's merely a legal matter, nothing like the US asking the Canadian government to arrest Meng without any reasonable legal procedure, Li said.

As to whether members of other overseas NGOs should be concerned about their activities in China, Lu said that China has maintained regular communication with other countries and that there is no need to worry as long as foreigners abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

The detention has drawn wide attention on Chinese social media, and the topic has been viewed more than 250 million times on China's Twitter-like Weibo as of press time.

Moreover, the incident has made an Associated Press (AP) journalist famous on Chinese social media.

Many Chinese netizens circulated a video on the US State Department's press briefing on Tuesday featuring AP journalist Matthew Lee asking questions on the alleged detention to deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino, and they gave a thumbs up to Lee for his aggressive questions, and said that even the US journalist could not stand its government's double standards.

After Palladino said that the US urged China to end all forms of arbitrary detentions, Lee asked follow-up questions whether he supported the way the Canadians handled the detention of Meng, as he seemed to suggest that China may have acted incorrectly in detaining the former Canadian diplomat.

Failing to answer it directly, Palladino first said he did not understand the question and then dodged it by accusing Meng.
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