Dec. 19 (UPI) -- China's foreign ministry moved quickly to deny claims the government has detained a third Canadian citizen, while condemning the "suppression" of Chinese tech firms abroad.
While not referring explicitly to the United States and its allies, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday the suppression of companies like Huawei Technologies is an overt form of "technological hegemony."
"Some countries are currently working to politicize legitimate technological cooperation without clear evidence," Hua said. "They cite a potential threat to security as a pretext to dishonor Chinese high-tech companies like Huawei, and are suppressing them."
The Chinese spokeswoman also said the move is a narrow-minded act of technological hegemony and protectionism. The "suppression" of Chinese tech firms is not aligned with the principles of the World Trade Organization, she added.
"China has the right to development, and Chinese tech firms the right to develop," she said. "This right should be respected around the world."
Beijing has denounced the arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada on Dec. 1. Meng was released on bail last week.
The Canadian arrest of Meng, made at the request of U.S. officials, has increased tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.
China has acknowledged it has arrested two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, citing their alleged "harm to China's state security."
On Wednesday the foreign ministry denied China has detained a third Canadian, following a report from Canada's National Post a third individual was being held for undisclosed reasons.
Global Affairs Canada, Ottawa's diplomatic corps, said it was "aware of a Canadian citizen" who has been detained, according to the report.
The timing of the arrests has given rise to speculation China could be retaliating in response to the arrest of Meng.
China has previously warned of "unspecified consequences" following the incident.