China Just Sentenced a Third Canadian to Death for a Drug-Related Offence

The sentence was announced amid declining Canada-China relations. Tensions started in 2018 when Canada detained Meng Wanzhou of Huawei and have worsened since.
August 6, 2020, 2:22pm
Xi Jinping; Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, Friday June 28, 2019. Photo by Adrian Wyld (CP)

A Canadian has been sentenced to death in China on charges of manufacturing the drug ketamine.

Xu Weihong is the third Canadian to receive the death penalty for drug-related charges in China amid escalating tensions between the two countries, the Associated Press reported.

Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu’s verdict on Thursday, adding that an accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, was given a life sentence, according to AP. All death sentences in China are reviewed by the country’s highest court.

According to news reports, Xu and Wen started making ketamine in October 2016 after collecting the required tools and ingredients. Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of ketamine from two locations, including Xu’s home.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told reporters there is no link between Thursday’s verdict and China-Canada relations.

"I would like to stress that China's judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures," Wang said.

Two other Canadians, including smuggler Robert Schellenberg, have received the death sentence in China following drug-related convictions. Schellenberg was sentenced in January 2019, while Canadian citizen Fan Wei was sentenced in April 2019 as part of a multinational drug smuggling case.

The relationship between Canada and China has been in steady decline since Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of tech corporation Huawei, in late 2018 following an extradition request from the U.S. (A New York Court had issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest in August 2018.) According to AP, China said the move was deliberate to prevent its rise as an international tech power.

China has also detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavo, accusing them of national security crimes. The country charged the two with spying in June, about a year and a half after they were first detained.

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