China is hurting its own interests with arbitrary detentions, Canada PM Trudeau says

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said China undermined its own interests and alienated other nations when it detained two Canadians almost two years ago, after Canada had arrested a Chinese executive on a U.S. arrest warrant.

China arrested businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig in December 2018, shortly after Canadian police picked up Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant. The two men face spying charges.

“China’s approach and the way it’s been conducting itself is not improving its relations with any country around the world, and indeed is harming its own interests,” Trudeau said in a news conference, adding that he would continue to push for the release of the two men.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that U.S. prosecutors were discussing a deal with Meng’s lawyers to resolve criminal charges against her.

Earlier this week, the prime minister was asked in an interview with Global News whether he thought there would be good news for the men’s families before the New Year. Trudeau replied: “I certainly hope so.”

On Friday, when asked to clarify, he appeared to downplay an imminent deal that could lead to the men’s release.

“I remain hopeful to get good news (of their release) an hour from now, a day from now, a week from now, a month from now,” he said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis