West Unites Against Detention of Foreign Nationals in Signal to China

A team of mainly Western countries led by Canada have formed a coalition towards the detention of overseas nationals for diplomatic leverage, having intention at a apply that diplomats say has been employed by Beijing and Tehran.

Fifty-8 nations, including the U.S., Japan, Australia and virtually all users of the European Union, have signed a declaration that is nonbinding and has no equipment for enforcement. The Canadian overseas ministry, which is launching the initiative publicly on Monday, suggests that it does not concentrate on a one country, but that it was aimed at bringing diplomatic strain to bear on the concern.

“Taking individuals from their families and using them as bargaining chips is both of those unlawful and immoral,” Canadian International Minister Marc Garneau instructed the Reuters information agency.

Western diplomats have accused China, Iran, Russia and North Korea in recent years of detaining overseas nationals as bargaining chips.

Two Canadians—ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor—were detained in China in December 2018 and accused of espionage. They are at the heart of a superior-stakes standoff concerning Canada, the U.S. and China. Canada has accused China of detaining the two men in retaliation for its arrest of an executive at China’s Huawei Technologies Co., Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. extradition request.