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Nationals of China and Canada Fall Prey to the Diplomatic Spat

A Canadian man convicted in China of drug smuggling, a serious offense in the nation, is reportedly scheduled to appear in a Chinese court on Saturday. The message was issued by the High Court of Liaoning Province of China, which identified the man as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

In statement on Wednesday, the court said that the case of Schellenberg’s appeal against smuggling of drugs will be held on December 29, 2018 in Dalian, China. The statement didn’t give any details on when the man was convicted originally, or what his sentence was.

However, a Chinese government news portal, Runsky.com, stated that Schellenberg is a Canadian and had smuggled an “enormous amount” of drugs.

It also expressed admiration towards the Canadian’s courage for “actually daring to smuggle drugs into China,” which has severe charges for those caught in smuggling or trafficking of drugs, including foreigners.

The Global Times informed that the penalty for manufacturing or smuggling at least a kilo of opium, or 50 grams of heroin or methylaniline is 15 years sentence in prison, under the Chinese law. Besides, in extreme cases it could extend to death penalty.

To a question about Schellenberg’s detention at a regular press conference on Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was “not aware of the specifics of the case.”

A spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, Maegan Graveline said that the department “has been following this case for several years and has been providing consular assistance to the Canadian citizen since they were first detained in Liaoning, China.”

According to CNN, Graveline also made clear that they “will continue to provide consular services to them and their family.”

Schellenberg’s conviction is the latest in the ongoing legal battle between China and Canada, since the detention of the Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver earlier this month.

Although Meng, who was charged of violating sanctions against Iran, was granted a bail pending an extradition hearing to the US on December 11, China detained multiple citizens while refusing to link the cases.

Post Meng’s bail, China detained two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — back-to-back, accusing them of endangering Chinese security.

Later, reports about the arrest of third Canadian national in China came, who will most likely be deported in an unrelated matter, according to the Canadian officials.

Schellenberg’s case is raising questions on whether the Chinese authorities put a severe penalty on him considering the ongoing spat with Canada.

Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia professor of global politics, said, “My worry is that he may be more likely to be sentenced to death than would have been the case before the current breakdown in relations between Canada and China.”

As the relations between Ottawa and Beijing become sour, the citizens of both the countries can become a victim to the escalated diplomatic spat. Looking at the deteriorating situation, it is in best interest of both the countries to resolve or at least reach to a mature stance as members of the international community.

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