Beijing on Tuesday criticized Paris for siding with Canada after the French Foreign Ministry demanded the release of Canadian citizens being investigated in China.
Stating that the meddling by France into the investigation of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig has left a "very bad impression" in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying urged Canada's "so-called allies" to respect Beijing's judicial sovereignty.
"I cannot understand why the French side issued such a statement and why it speaks for Canadian nationals. This has left a very bad impression on the Chinese people," Hua said arguing that the French response shows that "France only cares for Canadians and not for Chinese."
"We firmly reject and oppose the French statement," she said.
Earlier on Monday, France joined other Canadian allies including Britain and European Union to appeal for the release of Spavor and Kovrig while describing Canada's detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou as legitimate.
"Ms Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, is subject to a regular Canadian legal process that is in accordance with the rule of law. This is consistent with Canada's international commitments,” the French ministry was cited by Canadian media as saying in a statement.
Stating that the cases are "different in nature", Hua reiterated that while the Canadians detained by Chinese authorities are suspected of engaging in activities endangering China's national security, Meng was "illegally detained" in Canada "at the behest of the U.S. side."
"We hope that the Canadian side, the French side... and the other so-called allies of Canada can respect Chinese judicial departments' right to independently handle cases as well as China's judicial sovereignty," the spokesperson said.
Meng was detained in Vancouver on December 1 on a request from the U.S., which is seeking her extradition over allegations that her company conducted business with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. Meng and Huawei have denied any wrongdoing and are fighting a legal battle in Canada.
Former Canadian diplomat Kovrig and business consultant Spavor were detained on December 10 and are being investigated by the Beijing State Security Bureau and the State Security Bureau of Dandong City, northeastern Liaoning Province respectively.
China rejects UK, EU statements
On Monday, Hua similarly rejected last week's British and EU statements that urged Beijing to release the Canadian nationals while calling Ottawa's handling of Meng's case as fair and transparent.
"As for the UK and the EU expressing concern over the detention of the Canadian citizens, I wonder how they are involved in this case? Where were their voices when the senior manager of the Chinese company was illegally detained by the Canadian side at the behest of the U.S. side?" she retorted.
"It is quite obvious that the human rights they are talking about have different standards when it comes to citizens of different countries," added Hua.
The spokesperson strongly criticized Canada for citing its bilateral extradition treaty with the U.S. as the reason for its "illegal" detention of Meng, saying it "tramples on the basic norms of international law and international relations".
"At the behest of the U.S. side, Canada illegally detained the senior manager (Meng)… who has violated no Canadian laws as the Canadian side itself has acknowledged. This action, which is far from legal, legitimate and reasonable, is what truly merits the name of arbitrary detention," Hua said.
"The Canadian side cannot stop talking about its so-called 'legal obligations' under its bilateral extradition treaty with the U.S. Does that mean that it can turn a blind eye to and trample on the basic norms of international law and international relations? Does that mean that it is okay for Canada to ignore its obligations in terms of protecting the legal rights and interests of Chinese nationals?" she asked.
"We have all noticed that such moves by the Canadian and U.S. sides have invoked severe criticism and strong opposition from people with a sense of justice in Canada, the U.S. and other countries. The ugly nature and impacts of the Meng Wanzhou case cannot be clearer," she said.
Stating that China is "strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to" the remarks made by Canada and its allies, Hua urged Ottawa to "correct its mistakes" by immediately releasing the Huawei CFO and reinstating "her legal and legitimate rights and interests" while also demanding the U.S. to "immediately withdraw its arrest order for Ms Meng Wanzhou".
Meanwhile, a local Chinese public security authority imposed an administrative penalty on a third Canadian – an English teacher named Sarah McIver – for illegal employment, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed last Thursday.