Canadians who were detained by China attend Biden speech, receive ovation

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Two Canadian men whom China had detained for more than 1,000 days and were at the center of a dispute between Washington and Beijing attended President Joe Biden’s speech to parliament in Ottawa on Friday, and received applause and a standing ovation.

The men, who were released in 2021, will also attend the gala dinner for Biden on Friday evening, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Chinese authorities took the two men, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, into custody in December 2018 shortly after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, on a U.S. warrant.

They were released on the same day the U.S. Justice Department dropped its extradition request for Meng and she returned to China.

Canada and the U.S. say that the detention of the Canadian men – dubbed by the Canadian media as “the two Michaels” in a case followed closely north of the border – was illegal and arbitrary, an accusation that Beijing has denied.

Their presence in Ottawa is likely to be seen as a symbolic gesture that shows Canada and the U.S. are politically aligned on China.

Both countries introduced strategies last year to counter Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Josie Kao and Leslie Adler)