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US slams China for imprisoning Canadian man linked to Huawei case

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The US has joined the global chorus of voices demanding for China to release a Canadian man who the has been detained on spying charges

The US is among countries calling for China to immediately release a Canadian businessman from prison. Chinese officials have sentenced Michael Spavor for up to 11 years for “spying on China’s national secrets”.

Has ‘hostage diplomacy’ implicated Spavor’s case?

Chinese authorities detained both Spavor and a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig. This came shortly after Canada arrested top Huawei executive Meng Wangzhou at Vancouver airport for violating sanctions against Iran.

Federal prosecutors have accused Kovrig of “using an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China”.

Canada claims that Spavor’s arrest is a case of ‘hostage diplomacy’. The day prior, China upheld a death sentence for another Canadian Robert Schellenberg on drug smuggling charges.

Michael Spavor: Canadian businessman sentenced by Chinese court to 11 years  in prison for spying | CNN
Michael Spavor talks during a video interview on March 2, 2017.

The arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

However, Chinese officials reject this claim. They’ve demanded for Canada to release Meng, who they claim is being held hostage at the at the behest of the US.

Chinese authorities had initially sentenced Schellenberg to 15 years in prison. However, federal prosecutors changed the verdict to a death sentence shortly after Canadian officials arrested Meng.

Meng’s extradition hearings are in their last few weeks. Canada’s Justice Minister will make a decision in the next few months as to whether to extradite Meng.

Key events in Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's extradition case | Reuters
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou leaving a court in Canada, 2021.

International backlash

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Spavor’s conviction and sentencing was “absolutely unacceptable and unjust”.

“The verdict for Mr. Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process, and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law,” he said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also slammed the proceedings against both Spavor and Kovrig.

“We join our partners in condemning Beijing’s sentencing of Canadian citizen Michael Spavor,” he said in a statement. “People are not bargaining chips.”

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Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

Tech

Porn floods Twitter “China” search

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Twitter users have been finding it hard to search for information on the social media platform due to an explosion of pornographic spam.

While thousands of protests against extended lockdowns, a digital bot army has roared into action on Twitter, with long-dormant Chinese language accounts suddenly tweeting links to escort services and other adult content.

Anyone trying to track the spontaneous protest movement on Twitter complained about the deluge of spam pornographic content making flooding the search for information.

The China protests come at a time when Twitter’s content and moderation teams have been pared back drastically following Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the social media giant.

Twitter, along with other international social media services like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, is blocked by Beijing’s internet censors within Mainland China.

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World

Biden silence on China protests

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As citizens across China revolt against the country’s “zero Covid” policy, the White House issued a statement about the growing protests.

“‘We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, in the United States and around the world,’ a White House National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement.

‘This includes in the [People’s Republic of China.]’

“‘Zero COVID is not a policy we are pursuing here,’ the spokesperson said.

‘And as we’ve said, we think it’s going to be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to be able to contain this virus through their zero COVID strategy.’”

Commentators have noted that the statement came from the White House, and not President Biden himself.

Demonstrators are calling on President Joe Biden to take a stance and publicly support their cause.

The protests have continued despite numerous attempts by the Chinese government to quell them.

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Business

China protests hit global markets, crypto

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Investor watches markets

The protests in China are having a negative impact on cryptocurrencies and markets around the world.

Bitcoin failed to break its descent and fell more than 3 percent.

The global crypto market cap fell over 2%, sending major cryptos into the red.

Over the last 24 hours, overall crypto market volume grew by 22%.

It comes amid a round of investor nervousness in global markets spurred by protests in China against Covid restrictions.

Protesters outraged by harsh COVID-19 regulations called for China’s strong leader to quit.

China is the world’s second-largest economy and has a significant impact on global financial markets.

Stocks and cryptos aren’t considered safe havens, leading to bearing price action.

Analysts are hoping for a sharp bullish reversal if and when the protests end.

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