The fate of Michael Kovrig currently remains unknown after the former Canadian diplomat was taken into custody by the Beijing National Security Bureau on Monday, a little more than a week after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies.

Kovrig's current employers, the International Crisis Group (ICG), have said they are concerned for his safety amid an official blackout on the reasons for his detention and his whereabouts.

The move is widely viewed as a direct response to the arrest of Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder, by Canadian authorities on Dec. 1 during a layover at Vancouver airport.

Meng's arrest, which was later described as "unreasonable, unconscionable, and vile in nature" by the Chinese foreign ministry, is a precursor to possible extradition to the U.S. where the CFO could face charges of assisting Huawei with dodging sanctions against Iran. She was released on bail on Tuesday pending an extradition hearing.

It's as if the authorities in Beijing have rushed to fulfill a prophecy made in a Dec. 8 Xinhua editorial warning of "severe consequences" for Canada should it fail to release Meng, whom the Communist government mouthpiece views as merely a victim in a war for influence and trade concessions between the U.S. and China. The integrity of Canada's judicial process, vigorously defended by its government officials, including Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, goes unmentioned in the report.

That said, U.S. President Donald Trump unhelpfully weighed in on the debate by saying on Tuesday that he would consider using Meng as a bargaining trip in the ongoing trade war with China. "If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what's good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," The Donald told Reuters.

His remarks promoted a stern rebuke from Freeland, who warned Trump of the dangers of politicizing the case. Those close to Trump must now work to convince him of the importance of upholding the integrity of separation of powers, a principle that in the long-term separates democracies from authoritarian governments, but for which in the short-term Mr. Kovrig, and potentially other Canadian citizens in China, may suffer the consequences.

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Editor: David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)

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