Photo: AFP

The Canadian government on Tuesday confirmed earlier reports that a former diplomat had been detained in China after the high-profile arrest of a Chinese executive in Vancouver.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canada was “sparing no effort” to ensure the safety of Michael Kovrig, who has previously worked at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.

Chinese officials have not given a reason for Kovrig’s arrest and Canada’s Foreign Ministry is unable to release further details regarding the case, CBC reported on Tuesday.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig. Photo: CrisisGroup

“Canadian diplomatic officials have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts to explain how seriously Canadians view this,”  Goodale said. “Clearly we are deeply concerned.…”

Kovrig’s detention comes as court proceedings for the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, continue in Vancouver.

Meng is the daughter of the company’s founder, and her arrest, which is tied to violations of US sanctions on Iran, has led to condemnations from Beijing. Meng is facing possible extradition to the US.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the issue of Kovrig’s detention.

“Obviously we are aware of the situation of a Canadian detained in China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, as quoted by CBC. “We have been in direct contact with the Chinese diplomats and representatives. We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously, and we are providing consular assistance to the family.”

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