The feud between Ottawa and Beijing climbed to absurd new heights late Wednesday after Beijing announced that it would bring drug smuggling charges against a Canadian national recently detained in the northeastern province of Liaoning. Reuters reported Wednesday that a Chinese court in Dalian has formally charged Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg with smuggling “an enormous amount of drugs” into China – a crime that typically carries the death penalty in the notoriously strict Communist judicial system.
Schellenberg will face an appeal hearing on Saturday, according to a local government news site. The English-language Chinese website Global Times reported that the amount of drugs purportedly smuggled by Schellenberg “will surprise you when it goes public.”
The GT listed the penalties for drug smuggling under Chinese law as follows:
According to China’s Criminal Law, persons who smuggle, traffic in, transport or manufacture opium of not less than 1,000 grams, heroin or methylaniline of not less than 50 grams or other narcotic drugs of large quantities shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of 15 years, life imprisonment or death and also to confiscation of property.
Following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou – the daughter of one of China’s most celebrated titans of industry – at the behest of federal prosecutors in the US, Beijing detained two Canadians – former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based businessman Michael Spavor – whom China has accused of engaging in activities that “endanger China’s security”. Canada has protested their arrest and demanded their release, but Beijing has mostly scoffed at Canada’s objections.
Kovrig is a senior advisor at the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor facilitates trips to North Korea (his clients include former NBA star Dennis Rodman). It has been widely speculated that the arrest of the two men was intended as retaliation for Meng, though no direct link has been substantiated. The circumstances surrounding Schellenberg’s arrest are less clear.
In addition, a Canadian woman named Sarah McIver is also being held in China and will likely be deported for working illegally in the country.
Back in 2009, China executed UK national and convicted drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh after he was convicted of smuggling 4,030 grams of heroin into China – over the protests of the British government.