China’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed the arrest of Canadian national Michael Spavor. Spavor is a businessman who is perhaps most famous for organising tours of the DPRK (North Korea) for westerners. Spavor met with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un long before Donald Trump ever did and reportedly helped to arrange some of American basketball star Dennis Rodman’s goodwill visits to Pyongyang. Spavor’s arrest occurred on the same day that Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was also arrested in China for conducting business activities on Chinese soil without the proper legal permissions.
The arrests of relatively high profile Canadians in China has been interpreted by some as an attempt by Beijing to put pressure on Ottawa in respect of releasing the political prisoner Meng Wanzhou who is currently out on bail in Vancouver. If this pattern of Canadians being detained in China continues, it may become impossible for Ottawa to reject a rational quid pro quo in respect of releasing Meng in exchange for the freedom of Canadians in China. However, prominent Chinese journalist Hu Xijin has offered a slightly different analysis:
No evidence suggests this is Chinese government's retaliation. Public opinion made such speculation only because Canada has gone too far and people naturally think China will retaliate. The highly sensitive situation stemmed from Canada arresting Meng Wanzhou. pic.twitter.com/5EM5yFCTYb— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) December 11, 2018
Please note the two Canadians detained in China are under investigation in accordance with the law. This includes the possibility they may be released at some time. Westerners who were detained by China in the past were deported soon. Hope this time there is reason to be faster.— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) December 13, 2018
With Donald Trump alluding to Meng’s release in the event that trade discussions with China go positively from his perspective, there is now some glimmer of hope that for Meng, her wretched ordeal will soon be over.
Below is Eurasia Future’s recent update on the latest events surrounding Meng’s wretched ordeal:
On 11 December, three important developments occurred regarding the political imprisonment of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. First, with no formal extradition request from the United States forthcoming, a Canadian judge temporarily freed Meng on a whopping $10 million bail. Then it was announced that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was arrested in China for working in the country without the correct form of legal registration. But the most important development of the day was when Donald Trump admitted that Meng’s freedom is nothing but a bargaining chip in America’s trade negotiations with China. When asked by reporters about the possibility of freeing Meng, Trump stated:
“If I think it’s good for what will certainly be the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary”.
The US President issued this statement not long after Tweeting, “Very productive conversations going on with China! Watch for some important announcements!”
Very productive conversations going on with China! Watch for some important announcements!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
This statement itself was a prelude to a development that from a Chinese perspective was the most underwhelming announcement of the day, but one that for many in western media appeared to be a significant development. It was announced that China plans to drop existing tariffs on imported US cars to 15%. That being said, such a development is neither new nor is it novel. For over a year, China has been implementing policies that were originally developed prior to Donald Trump’s election whereby China would rapidly open its vast domestic market to imports at a more significant rate than at any time in the history of the People’s Republic of China. As Shanghai hosted the first annual China International Import Expo (CIIE) this autumn, it is self-evident that many nations are already enjoying the benefits of selling more goods in China. Yet because and only because of the trade war, the United States became a nation that began trading less to China at a time when many of America’s international competitors including the European Union began selling much more to China.
Thus, the present negotiations between China and the US account for little more than the US convincing itself it is getting a special deal when in reality, China is offering the US the same reasonable import terms that it would have offered the US prior to the trade war – just as China offered most of the rest of the world similarly favourable terms at the time. Thus, in admitting that Meng is merely another bargaining chip amid the ongoing trade talks with China, Trump has confirmed statements from Beijing accusing Washington of a supremely reckless and lawless act in pursuit of trying to drive a hard bargain in the trade negotiations, while furthermore attempting to stifle the seemingly unstoppable growth of Huawei, which earlier this year overtook the US company Apple as the world’s single largest seller of smart phones.
Furthermore, Trump’s apparent “climb-down” on Meng lends credibility to the theory that Meng’s kidnapping and detention was neither arranged by, approved by or even known to Trump until long after it occurred. During an recent interview with America’s National Public Radio, National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed that he knew in advance that Washington would instruct the Canadian authorities to arrest Meng Wanzhou in preparation for an extradition to the United States. Bolton also claimed that while he was aware that this was happening on the day that Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina (while Bolton himself was in attendance), the American National Security Advisor indicated that it was possible that Trump was unaware of Meng’s arrest.
If Bolton’s scandalous statement does in fact paint the entire picture of what happened in respect of the kidnapping style arrest and subsequent illegal detention of Meng, it lends credibility to the theory postulated by many observers which insists that while Trump may have been negotiating with Xi in good faith, elements of his government up to and including John Bolton were actively conspiring to stage a violent provocation against China in the form of the unlawful kidnapping of a prominent Chinese businesswoman by compliant Canadian authorities. What’s more is that by hinting at the fact that Trump was likely unaware of Meng’s despicable detention, Bolton has accidentally revealed how aloof the US President may well be when it comes to being informed on crucial issues that will have a profound impact on his ability to govern domestically and negotiate with fellow heads of state and government.
Bolton’s exact words regarding this matter are as follows:
“I knew in advance. This is something that we get from the Justice Department. And these kinds of things happen with some frequency. We certainly don’t inform the president on every one of them”.
It could therefore be that Bolton and other hawkish elements of the American so-called deep state arranged for the kidnapping of Meng to take place at the same time as the Trump-Xi et. al. meeting in Argentina as a means of attempting to embarrass China and Trump simultaneously. Furthermore, it could be that in now offering Meng’s freedom as an incentive to China to “do things Trump’s way” in the trade war, that Trump is conducting his version of damage control in the face of a reckless attempt by Bolton and others to derail the trade talks. The increased likelihood of such a scenario further serves to vindicate China’s method of handling the entire difficult matter by following the wisdom of Sun Tzu who in The Art of War stated:
China’s method appears to be paying off as gradually Meng’s freedom looks to be a more likely short term possibility than at any time since her kidnapping on the 1st of December.