China slams Canada for accusations of 'arbitrary detentions'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Toronto Star editorial board that China's use of "arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals" was concerning not only to Canada but to Western allies

China on Friday hit back at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who accused Beijing of using "arbitrary detentions" to achieve political goals, as relations between the two countries continue to sour.

Ottawa has been embroiled in a diplomatic and trade row with Beijing after it arrested Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant last December.

China detained two Canadians -- former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor -- days later in apparent retaliation, with both men now facing espionage-related accusations.

On Thursday, Trudeau told the Toronto Star editorial board that China's use of "arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals" was concerning not only to Canada but to Western allies.

"The remarks made by the Canadian leader misrepresent the facts and make fake accusations," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing.

"Canada arbitrarily detained a citizen of a third country... and is cooperating with the US to cook up the Meng Wanzhou incident," he added.

Diplomatic relations between China and Canada have been strained over a number of issues, including two other Canadians who have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

Canada has called the death penalties for Fen Wei and Robert Lloyd Schellenberg "cruel and inhumane" and asked for clemency on their behalf.

Beijing also recently blocked Canadian shipments of canola and pork worth billions of dollars.

In a sign this week that Ottawa and Beijing may be ready for dialogue however, the two countries -- which had been without representation for months -- nominated new ambassadors.

Besides Canada, foreign nationals from other countries have also been arrested in China, the latest being Australian academic Yang Jun, who also goes by his pen name Yang Hengjun.

He was detained in January shortly after making a rare return to China from the United States, and Beijing announced last week that he had been formally arrested on suspicion of spying.