July 15 (UPI) -- China says local authorities have detained a Canadian citizen on drug-related charges.
Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday at a regular press briefing the arrest was part of a crackdown on a group of "foreign students" in Yantai, a port city in Shandong Province, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Shandong provincial public security arrested foreign students on drug charges. Among the suspects is one Canadian national," Geng said, according to the report.
The spokesman added relevant embassies have been informed and embassy staff have rights to visit the detainees. The arrest is independent of the capture of 19 people, including 16 foreigners, for drug-related charges in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.
The Canadian citizen being held in Shandong Province has not been identified, but the arrest comes a few months after Beijing detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. Spavor helped NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman gain access to North Korea.
The arrests are widely regarded as Chinese retaliation for Canada's decision to arrest Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, at the request of U.S. authorities.
Canada arrested Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei, on charges of evading U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Tensions are also rising after Canadian media reported Qiu Xiangguo, a Chinese virologist in Winnipeg, was arrested for an alleged "policy breach."
Qiu and her husband were removed from Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory. She helped develop ZMapp, a treatment for the deadly Ebola virus, according to Chinese network CGTN.
On Monday Geng said he has not received notice from China's consulate general in Toronto of Qiu's arrest.
U.S. policy against Huawei is affecting its business in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday the company's research subsidiary, Futurewei Technologies, is planning a layoff of potentially hundreds of workers in Texas and California.
Washington has banned Huawei equipment, citing national security concerns.