Chinese diplomats have issued a Lunar New Year message of goodwill to Canada, saying they want to get relations back on track amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the detention of a senior Huawei executive.
One diplomat said China wanted to build a relationship based on mutual respect, but some nations did not give Beijing a chance, China News Service reported on Tuesday.
“We hope to strengthen communication with the Canadian side in the new year, remove obstacles, and work hard to push China-Canada bilateral relations back to the correct development track,” Heng Xiaojun, the deputy chief of mission, told the Chinese embassy’s Spring Festival Reception in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, China’s consul-general in Vancouver Tong Xiaoling told a separate reception that she hopes to make a fresh contribution towards the relationship between the two sides.
Lu Xu, the consul-general in Calgary, told another event that China did not seek to impose itself on other nations and wanted to develop relationships based on mutual respect and peace.
“However, unfortunately, some nations seem to be unwilling to give China a chance,” she said.
Relations between the two countries took a turn for the worse after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, also known as Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng, in December at the request of the US.
Meng is accused of fraud relating to possible breaches of US sanctions on Iran, and the company has since been indicted by the US courts on suspicion of fraud and stealing technology. America hopes to extradite her for trial.
Canada said last month that 13 of its citizens had been detained in China on various charges since Meng was arrested on December 1, at least eight of whom have since been released.
But former diplomat Michael Kovrig and the businessman Michael Spavor continue to be held national security grounds.
A Chinese appeal court has also sentenced a Canadian drug smuggler to death, saying Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s initial 15-year jail sentence was too lenient.
Despite the diplomatic olive branch, tensions between the two countries are likely to continue, especially given the growing backlash against Huawei across the West.
A number of countries have banned or considered banning the tech giant from involvement in their communications infrastructure and this week it emerged that the FBI had carried out a sting against Huawei on suspicion it was trying to steal glass technology from a US start-up.
Canada has so far refused to give in to China’s demands that it free Meng and last month the country’s ambassador to China was forced to resign for criticising Meng’s arrest and saying it would be “great” if Meng were released.