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Death sentence for Canadian. Poland to suffer next?

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Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian, was given the death sentence for drug trafficking charges on Monday at a court in Dalian — Beijing’s latest act of retaliation against Canada for the arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟. 

AFP reports that “his previous 15-year prison sentence was deemed too lenient, a ruling likely to deepen a diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing.”

Globe and Mail correspondent Mark MacKinnon says that this would be “the first Canadian or American ever executed by the People’s Republic.”

Beijing really wanted the world to know about the sentence. Nathan VanderKlippe, China correspondent for the Canadian Globe and Mail, was in Dalian covering today’s sentencing, and tweeted this:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning told reporters, per CBC:

It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty…as in this case facing a Canadian.

A warning for Poland: In related news, nationalistic rag the Global Times reacted to the arrest of a Huawei manager for espionage in Poland, saying (in Chinese) that Warsaw should “pay…a price”:

The whole world is clear that Poland has acted an accomplice to the United States, so we should make Poland suffer a bit (应该让它吃点苦头 ràng tā chī diǎn kǔtóu), and not worry what Western public opinion thinks.

Poland and Polish citizens in China should take this threat seriously — the Global Times has form. On December 12, after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Global Times published a video invective narrated by the paper’s editor, vowing that “China will take revenge if Canada does not restore Meng Wanzhou’s freedom.” As that video was being shot and uploaded, news of the detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor was breaking. 

Further reporting  

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.

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