A former Canadian diplomat has been detained in China, two sources said on Tuesday, just hours before a top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies was set to return to a Vancouver courtroom for a bail hearing that has angered Beijing.
It was not immediately clear if the cases were related, but Canadian analysts had already predicted China would retaliate after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of US authorities. The former diplomat is Michael Kovrig. He works for the International Crisis Group, which said it was seeking his prompt and safe release.
Canadian officials said they were not immediately able to confirm that Kovrig was in detention. China's Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Public Security did not respond immediately to questions faxed about Kovrig's detention.
China has threatened severe consequences unless Canada releases Meng immediately. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the matter is one for the courts to decide.
Tuesday will be the third day of bail hearings in a British Columbia court, where a judge will weigh final issues in determining whether Meng should be freed on bail while awaiting extradition proceedings.
Canadian businesses operating in China are starting to feel the chill and the signing of one major deal has been postponed, a well-placed source said.