China and Canada can't see eye to eye at the moment. The already deteriorating relationship has become even more volatile with a Chinese court sentencing Xu Weihong, a Canadian citizen, to death for charges of producing a drug called Ketamine illegally. This is only the latest of various moves by the Communist state to hurt the North American nation.
The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court gave the death penalty to Weihong on Thursday along with a life-term prison sentence for his accomplice Wen Guanxiong. Chinese police had seized 120 kilograms of Ketamine from two locations belonging to the pair.
According to the judgment, these two started producing ketamine, which is used medically as a pain-killer but also, increasingly, recreationally by youngsters in 2016. China has strict punishment for drug-peddlers but the Canadians see this verdict, the third sentencing a Canadian to death in recent times, as more of a political move than purely a legal process.
In response, the Canadian foreign minister has expressed "profound concern" over the matter and also presented his government's in-principle opposition to the death penalty. The capital punishment was also given last year to Fan Wei, another Canadian involved in drug smuggling, according to the verdict.
Prior to that, in 2018, Robert Schellenberg, another Canadian national, was also awarded the death penalty. In this case, a different sentence had already been given but a retrial took place and the highest punishment was ordered.
Start of Diplomatic Tensions
All these judgments are regarded as part of an offensive by the Chinese government against Canada following the latter country's sensational arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company's founder Ren Zhengfei, in 2018. Meng is accused by USA of fraud relating to tghe company's business links with Iran and is wanted for trial there. While Canada hasn't yet extradited her, the Chinese were left seething with this action.
The immediate retaliation from the communist state came in the form of arrests of two Canadians â former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. They were accused of crimes related to the national security of China though how they did that wasn't specified.
Then started the death sentences. On the economic front also, China has banned the imports of Canadian products. As of now, things don't seem to be getting any better. This latest development will only progress the downward spiral of relations.
The House of Commons of Canada is going to have one of its committees looking at relations with China and conduct a hearing. Invited to this hearing is Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister of Tibet's Government-in-Exile, not recognized by any major country yet, including India where it resides. This government-in-exile was created by Tibetan refugees in India who are led by Dalai Lama. China views this community and its leaders with great suspicion.
With both countries refusing to relent, the coming days look gloomier as far as the relations between these two countries are concerned. The continued detention of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians is the biggest sore. If the Huawei executive is extradited to US, all bets are off.