A court in China on Wednesday sentenced Canadian businessman Michael Spavor to 11 years for foreign espionage and the illegal provision of state secrets, a day after the death sentence of a convicted Canadian drug trafficker was upheld, in what analysts called a clear show of China's resolve and determination to safeguard its independent judicial system and national interests despite baseless attacks and mounting pressure from the West.The closely-watched court ruling, which also ordered the deportation of Spavor, came as bilateral relations between China and Canada are at the lowest point due to Canada's arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the US and its constant disregard of international norms and China's concerns.
Following the court rulings, Canada has been rallying support from some of its Western allies to attack China, but Chinese officials have dismissed the criticism as baseless accusations and blatant interference into China's judicial proceedings. The court rulings have also been widely applauded by the Chinese public as a crucial, necessary step to protect the public and the country from drugs and foreign espionage, especially given the constant unreasonable provocation from the Canadian government.
Chinese experts on foreign affairs pointed out that the sentence conveyed a signal to other US allies that they will pay heavy price if they insist on being the US' "running dogs" in its anti-China camp and their citizens would face harsh punishment if they commit crimes in China as their nationality is not a talisman.
Dandong Intermediate People's Court in Northeast China's Liaoning Province announced the verdict on Wednesday, five months after his first trial in a closed-door court in Dandong as it concerns national security. He also had personal property of 50,000 yuan ($7,700) confiscated and will be expelled. According to Chinese legal proceedings, he will have 10 days to appeal.
Another Canadian national Michael Kovrig along with Spavor was prosecuted for suspected crimes undermining China's national security in June 2020 and received trial in March at a Beijing court. Kovrig was accused of using an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017, while Spavor was accused of being a key source of intelligence for Kovrig.
Speaking from Dandong on Wednesday, Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton said his government condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the sentence handed down to Spavor, according to a CNN report.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced Spavor's sentencing Wednesday as "absolutely unacceptable and unjust," while the US and Australia embassies in China also joined in the chorus to attack China over the sentence on their official Sina Weibo accounts.
Chinese experts slammed them for being "blind" and "stubborn" and having nothing new to present but these lousy clichés as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons have reiterated the status of both cases and China's judicial authorities have released information timely about the cases.
A source close to the matter told the Global Times previously that due to the COVID-19 epidemic situation, the hearings for both cases involving Kovrig and Spavor had yet to commence. Meanwhile, Global Affairs Canada, which manages the Canadian government's diplomatic and consular relations, issued a statement in October 2020, noting that Ambassador Barton conducted a consular video visit with the two.
Referring to previous cases of outbreaks in prisons at home and abroad, for the humanitarian protection of this special place and the need of domestic epidemic prevention and control, China has not opened up to face-to-face visits. This special "online visit" arrangement was apparently a humanitarian goodwill measure given to Canada by the Chinese government, Liu Dan, a research fellow with the Center for Canadian Studies, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, said previously.
Barton noted that he did not think it was a coincidence that there were developments in the Spavor and Robert Schellenberg cases while Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's case in Canada was progressing. On Tuesday, Canadian drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg's death penalty was upheld by the High People's Court of Liaoning Province. He was found guilty of smuggling 222.035 kilograms of meth and being engaged in organized international drug trafficking.