Canada has recently launched a coalition of 57 nations, including CANZUK countries, which calls for a new international declaration to oppose state-sponsored detention of foreign nationals for political purposes.
Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are amongst the endorsers, and the new declaration is the result of years of diplomacy, enforced by a number of high-profile cases involving Canadian, Australian, and British citizens.
The Canadian Government has been consistent and vocal in calling on the Chinese Government to release Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained by Chinese authorities in December 2018.
The detentions occurred immediately after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei in Vancouver, characterizing Chinese actions as textbook hostage diplomacy.
Similarly, the Australian Government has raised concerns about the secretive detention of Australian citizen and former Chinese news anchor, Cheng Lei, who disappeared from Chinese screens in August 2020.
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Relations between Australia and China have been deteriorating in recent years due to a number of factors, including Huawei’s involvement in Australia’s 5G network and the Coronavirus pandemic, causing some to believe that Ms. Leng may be used to pursue the Chinese Governments hostile agenda.
But it is not only China who has been accused of arbitrary detentions, as the United Kingdom has been in a diplomatic battle with Iran over the detention of British citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, since 2016. The Iranian government attempted to organise a prisoner swap involving Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliff in 2019, further demonstrating the underhanded political motives of the detention and characterising it as hostage diplomacy.
These egregious acts are mirrored in other states such as North Korea, Russia and Turkey and have no place in the modern sphere of international relations.
This new coalition is further evidence of the CANZUK nations leading the way in promoting international cooperation in order to maintain the rules-based international system.
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