Hua Chunying

By Gaurav Sharma

Beijing: China on Tuesday defended the death sentence given to a Canadian for drugs smuggling and warned Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against making “irresponsible” remarks about Chinese law.

A Chinese court on Monday handed the death penalty to Robert Lloyd Schellenberg for smuggling drugs, aggravating tensions between Beijing and Ottawa who are locked in a dispute over Canada’s arrest of telecom giant Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

Trudeau slammed the court’s judgment, saying that “China chose to arbitrarily apply the death penalty” on Schellenberg.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was dissatisfied with Trudeau’s “irresponsible” remarks.

“I think this is wrong. I don’t know if the relevant person has carefully read the notice issued by the Dalian’s Intermediate People’s Court and Chinese laws,” ministry’s spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.

Hua said there was enough evidence against the 36-year-old Canadian who was part of an international syndicate and smuggled 222 kg of methamphetamine in China.

“Drugs smuggling is a grave crime in other countries of the world… and it is the same in China. All people are equal before the law.

“The relevant remarks made by the Canadian side are full of double standard and lack the spirit of rule of law. We are highly dissatisfied with the remarks and we urge the Canadian side to respect China’s rule of law and sovereignty and stop making such kind of irresponsible remarks,” Hua added.

Schellenberg was detained in China in 2014 and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016 for drug peddling in China.

However, the court deemed the quantum of punishment for Schellenberg was way too lenient given the grave nature of his crime and ordered a retrial of the case.

Schellenberg’s case was the most recent in a series of incidents between Ottawa and Beijing which began with Meng’s arrest at the request of the US. Washington has sought her extradition for fraud and violating the US sanctions on Tehran.

The row was further aggravated when two Canadian citizens — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — were arrested in China, suspected of activities that Beijing said put the country’s national security at risk.