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Amid souring ties, Canada abandons free trade talks with China

Ottawa [Canada], September 19 : An another setback for China, Canada has walked away from the free trade talks with Beijing amid souring relations over a Huawei executive’s arrest and the detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation. The announcement was made by Canadian foreign minister Francois Philippe Champagne during an interview, South China Morning Post reported. Talks had stalled more than a year ago. The relations between the two countries have deteriorated in the recent past mainly because of Huawei executive arrest.

“I don’t see the conditions being present now for these discussions to continue at this time,” Champagne said in an interview with the Globe and Mail daily. “The China of 2020 is not the China of 2016,” he said. According to Champagne, Beijing’s “arbitrary detention” of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor on suspicions of espionage, in response to the December 2018 arrest of telecom’s giant Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on the US warrant during a stopover in Vancouver are the reasons behind the shelving of the talks. Meng is wanted for alleged bank fraud and violations of US sanctions against Iran and has been fighting extradition ever since.

“Our first priority is to get the Michaels back home,” Champagne said. “All of the initiatives and policies that had been put in place at the time [in 2016 with China] – all that needs to be reviewed,” he said, adding that Ottawa is “looking at all of them with the lens of China of 2020”. In June, China banned the import of all meat from Canada claiming that customs documents had been forged by Canadian exporters. (ANI)

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