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China sentences second Canadian citizen to death ahead of centenary

By Elizabeth Shim
China sentences second Canadian citizen to death ahead of centenary
Tensions between China and Canada are rising following the arrests of citizens in both countries. File Photo by Fred Dufour/EPA-EFE

April 30 (UPI) -- A second Canadian citizen was sentenced to death in China on Tuesday for manufacturing and trafficking methamphetamine.

The decision comes after another Canadian national, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, had a 15-year prison sentence increased to a death sentence, the BBC reported.

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The Chinese decision to sentence to death Canadian citizen Fan Wei comes at a time when the two countries are experiencing unprecedented tensions over citizens in custody.

In December, China detained Michael Spavor, head of Paektu Cultural Exchange, at the Chinese border city of Dandong. He was arrested on charges of "harming [Chinese] national security," but details on the reasons for his detention were not provided by Beijing. Ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig is the other Canadian in Chinese custody.

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The arrests came after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei. Meng was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned Schellenberg's death sentence, but the Chinese government refuted the remarks and has said Canada was practicing "double standards."

On Tuesday the Jiangmen Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong province said Fan Wei was the leader of a drug ring. A defendant of an unknown nationality but identified as Wu Ziping was also conferred the death sentence, according to the BBC.

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China takes a tough stance on narcotics that may date back to the 19th century, when the country fought the Opium War against Britain. The Qing dynasty began to sentence Chinese drug traffickers to death as early as 1838, according to historians.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has evoked his country's "humiliation" at the hands of Western powers on previous occasions.

On Tuesday he called on Chinese youth to build community and "take responsibility" in order to "realize the great revival of the Chinese people," according to Chinese network CGTN.

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Xi was speaking at an event commemorating the centenary of the May Fourth movement, a student-led mass protest in 1919 that condemned Chinese concessions to Japan at the time.

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