Protesters hold photos of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who are being detained by China, outside the British Columbia Supreme Court, in Vancouver, on March 6, 2019. Photo: AFP

China sharply criticized Canada on Saturday, blaming its leaders for “irresponsible” statements about two Canadians accused of spying in China and calling on Ottawa to end its “Megaphone Diplomacy”.

The evidence against the two Canadians – former Beijing diplomat Michael Kovrig and North Korean consultant Michael Spavor – is “solid and sufficient,” a statement posted on the website of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said.

Beijing has formally indicted the pair on accusations of espionage and providing state secrets.

They were arrested in December 2018 – a few days after the financial director of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Canada at the request of the US judicial authorities. 

The charges against the two Canadians have been widely perceived in the West as retaliation for Meng’s arrest. China denies the allegation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly called the detention of the two men “arbitrary”. 

“The accusation of so-called ‘arbitrarily’ detaining Canadian citizens is totally groundless,” the Chinese statement read.

“Chinese judicial organs will continue to handle the above cases strictly in accordance with law, and protect the two Canadians’ lawful rights,” it added.

Meng’s detention, on the other hand, was itself “arbitrary”, the statement continued, describing it as “a grave political incident concocted by the United States to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and Huawei, and Canada is its accomplice.”

“Stop making irresponsible remarks on cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and exerting pressure on China through ‘Megaphone Diplomacy’,” it continued.

“At the same time, Canada should reflect on its mistakes in the Meng Wanzhou incident, stop political manipulation, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China.”

Some 20 Canadian officials, as well as Kovrig’s wife, recently called on Trudeau to intervene to stop the extradition process of the Huawei executive in order to facilitate the release of the two Canadians. 

But the prime minister, who has regularly affirmed the independence of the Canadian judicial system, categorically ruled out this possibility on Thursday, believing  such a decision would put other Canadians in China and around the world at risk. 

While on probation in Vancouver, Meng is accused by Washington of circumventing US sanctions against Iran.