Canada warns citizens about China’s ‘arbitrary enforcement of laws’


Robert Lloyd Schellenberg during his retrial in court in Dalian, Liaoning province.

DHARAMSALA, Jan 15: Canada has warned its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in China over the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.

It is understood that the Canadian government’s travel advisory for China, telling citizens to exercise a high degree of caution was issued after a Canadian man convicted of drug trafficking was suddenly retried and sentenced to death.

“We encourage Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement released earlier today hours after a court in China’s Liaoning province sentenced Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to be executed for drug smuggling following a day-long retrial in which the 36-year-old Canadian had declared his innocence.

Canada’s updated travel advisory for China highlighted the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws” and highlighted the severe penalties for drug offences, including death.

Schellenberg was detained in 2014 and sentenced to 15 years in prison two years later. But last month, an appeal by prosecutors claiming the sentence was too lenient was suddenly given the go-ahead. Monday’s retrial was scheduled with just four days’ notice according to a report on Aljazeera.

The sentence has been seen as retaliation by Beijing amidst escalating tensions between Beijing and Ottawa. Though Schellenberg now has the right to appeal to Liaoning High Court within 10 days after the court’s ruling, analysts and rights groups have stated that the retrials were rare in China, especially ones calling for a harsher sentence,

Huawei has come under international scrutiny in recent months. After Canada arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou last month in Vancouver at the request of the United States, the relationship between the two countries nosedived and China has reportedly detained 13 Canadians, off the lot, at least five of them are still being held in detention on undisclosed charges.

Meng was released on bail, and the US has until January 29 to file a formal extradition request.

Meanwhile, warning Americans that they may not be able to return home if they travel to China, the State Department issued a new china travel advisory urging increased caution earlier this month.

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