According to breaking reports Monday morning, January 14, a Chinese court has sentenced Canadian citizen Lloyd Schellenberg to death after a sudden decision to retry his case. Schellenberg has been held by the Chinese government for the last four years and had originally been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the attempted smuggling of methamphetamine out of China, destined for Australia. The retrial of Schellenberg was announced following the arrest of Weng Wanzhou—the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei—on December 1, 2018 by Canadian law enforcement.
Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver at the behest of the United States government due to her alleged direct involvement in fraudulent activities. Charges against Wanzhou state that she provided the means to trick financial institutions into doing business with telecommunications companies in Iran, thus bypassing U.S. sanctions. The arrest of Wanzhou followed increasingly stressed relations between the United States and China over trade and tariffs.
The U.S. State Department issued a warning to U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to China due to Chinese authorities exercising broad authority to prevent U.S. citizens from leaving the country. Additionally, the Canadian government has asserted that China has detained 13 Canadians since the arrest of Wanzhou, though eight have been released.
Huawei has been the source of much scrutiny over the past year. According to a NEWSREP report in May, Huawei devices were banned from sales on U.S. military installations. The report describes how Huawei mobile devices have a built-in back door which was known to and approved of by the Chinese government. The back door actively transmitted extensive personal information from the user’s device to secure servers in Shanghai. There are also concerns regarding the Huawei initiative to become the global leader in the coming 5G network. Several nations, including the U.S., have implemented bans on Huawei 5G equipment based on security concerns. Finally, last week a Huawei employee was arrested in Poland on charges of espionage. Huawei has fired the employee and claimed his actions had nothing to do with the company.
Regarding Schellenberg’s death sentence, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated, “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 in this case facing a Canadian.”
Reuters reports that some Western diplomats stationed in China believe the sudden sentencing of Schellenberg, as well as the arrests of other Canadians, represents a “tit-for-tat” retribution by the Chinese government.
Written by NEWSREP guest writer Micah Olsen. Micah is a Reconnaissance man with more than 13 years in the United States Marine Corps, including combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as theater security cooperation deployments in Latin America. He has a Bachelor of Science in Global Business from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is continually seeking further educational opportunities. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where he is slowly remodeling a newly purchased home with his beautiful wife and their awesome dog.
(Featured image by David Becker/Getty Images)