Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A still image taken from CCTV video shows Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg in court, where he was sentenced to death for drug smuggling, in Dalian, Liaoning province, China Jan. 14, 2019.


The government of Canada has asked China to spare the life of Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian man sentenced to death in China for trafficking 222 kilograms of methamphetamine.

“We’ve spoken with China’s ambassador to Canada and requested clemency. Canada’s position with when it comes to the death penalty is consistent and very longstanding,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday.

“We believe it is inhumane and inappropriate.”

Story continues below advertisement

The plea from Ottawa came as the rift with China deepened yet again in a worsening diplomatic dispute following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive accused in the U.S. of fraud related to violations of sanctions against Iran.

On Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry warned its citizens about travel to Canada and issued a stern rebuke to Ottawa, telling it to “stop making such irresponsible remarks” after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Beijing of arbitrarily enforcing its laws.

China is “strongly dissatisfied” with the Canadian criticism, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. She did not mention Mr. Trudeau by name.

But, she said, “the remarks by the relevant Canadian person lack the most basic awareness of the legal system.”

Canadians and Chinese justice: A who’s who of the political feud so far

Opinion: China smells weakness – so it’s picking on Canada

The strident response comes as China’s authoritarian leadership takes an increasingly assertive posture in its foreign relations, while Ottawa’s attempts to hold its ground have stoked growing hostility with the world’s second-largest economy.

Story continues below advertisement

On Monday, Mr. Trudeau spoke out after a Chinese court sentenced to death Mr. Schellenberg, 36, a Canadian man found guilty of organized international drug trafficking. Police in the northeastern port city of Dalian said he was part of a conspiracy to hide 222 kilograms of methamphetamine inside tires and export them to Australia.

Mr. Schellenberg had been sentenced to 15 years in prison but was sent for retrial on more serious charges after the arrest of Ms. Meng. His lawyer on Tuesday said that he will appeal.

“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 it is in this case facing a Canadian,” Mr. Trudeau said on Monday, after the verdict was announced. Soon after, the Canadian government issued a travel warning that “Chinese authorities apply, sometimes arbitrarily, the death penalty for both violent and non-violent crimes.”

But China responded on Tuesday with a travel warning, saying a Chinese citizen has recently been “arbitrarily detained by law enforcement authorities because of a request by a third country.” The alert cautions travellers “to fully assess the risks of travelling to Canada.”

Ms. Hua, meanwhile, suggested Ottawa instead remind its citizens “never to come to China to commit serious crimes like drug smuggling. Because there will definitely be severe consequences.”

She likened the travel alert to “a thief crying. Because it is Canada, not China, that has arbitrarily detained a foreign citizen without legal basis.”

Story continues below advertisement

Come to China, she urged, to “see how friendly and open Chinese people are.“

Ms. Freeland, meanwhile, sought to bring a human face to Mr. Schellenberg, who has also been convicted and jailed in Canada for drug smuggling. The foreign minister said she spoke with Mr. Schellenberg’s father in what she described as “a very emotional conversation for him.”

“It’s important for us to remember we are talking about a human being, a person,” she said, adding: “I’d like to say to him and the family that we really understand how difficult the situation is.”

But Ms. Hua accused Canada of wrongful conduct.

“Anyone with normal judgment can see that the Meng Wanzhou case is not a normal legal case, and the detention of Meng Wanzhou is not just. It is an abuse of legal procedures,” she said.

She repeated threats of “serious consequences” for Canada if Ms. Meng is not released. She also disputed arguments from critics that the Chinese court had political motivation in imposing a severe sentence against Mr. Schellenberg.

Story continues below advertisement

“Such a remark is malicious smearing and unwarranted accusation,” she said. “Any responsible government, when facing such kind of a grave crime, would take the kind of measures that reflect the government’s resolve in safeguarding the safety of their people,” she said.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies