In the second such sentencing this year, a Canadian man has been given the death penalty in China for drugs offences.The sentence is likely to further strain Sino-Canadian relations, which have frayed since Canada arrested a Chinese tech executive last December at the request of the U.S.Fan Wei was one of 11 people sentenced Tuesday at the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court in southern Guangdong province for their roles in a methamphetamine ring.Also among the 11 sentenced were one American and four Mexicans, who were all given life sentences or death sentences suspended by a period of two years. A court statement did not make clear which individual received what sentence.Though the Canadian was identified as “Fan Wei,” it remains unclear whether that is the person’s legal name. A person identified as Wu Ziping, whose nationality was not specified, was also handed a death sentence.The South China Morning Post has named the American as Mark Swidan of Houston, Texas, and the four Mexican nationals only by their first names Leon, Pedro, Oscar and Carrett.According to the court, Fan Wei and Wu conspired to manufacture and sell the drugs in 2012, and brought the others — described as “drug-making technicians” — on board. Between July and November of that year, the court says, the group set up a “den” in Guangdong’s Taishan city, where they produced and sold more than 63 kilograms of methamphetamine and 365.9 grams of dimethyl amphetamine.Speaking Monday on Parliament Hill, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Canadian’s sentence was “inhumane.”“We’re very concerned by this sentence,” she told gathered reporters. “Canada stands firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty everywhere around the world. We think that this is a cruel and inhumane punishment which should not be used in any country. We are obviously particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians.”Fan Wei and the others sentenced Tuesday have the right to appeal, the South China Morning Post reports.
In this image taken from a video footage run by China’s CCTV, Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg attends his retrial at the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in Dalian, northeastern China’s Liaoning province on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.
CCTV via AP
In a later statement, Global Affairs Canada said by email that it had, “raised our firm opposition to the death penalty with China, and will continue to do so.”Canadian officials attended the verdict and sentencing, Global Affairs confirmed.“We call on China to grant clemency for Mr. Fan,” the statement added. “It is of extreme concern to our government that China has chosen to apply the death penalty, a cruel and inhumane punishment.“Global Affairs Canada has been closely following this case and has been providing consular assistance to Mr. Fan and his family since he was first detained in 2012.”The Fan Wei case comes on the heels of that of Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, sentenced to death in Dalian, China in January. That move came just as tensions were escalating between China and Canada over the Vancouver detention of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei who was arrested in December of 2018. Meng faces extradition to the U.S. on the back of charges that she violated sanctions put in place by the U.S. against Iran.In the days following Meng’s arrest, China arrested two Canadian citizens on allegations of engaging in activities that have endangered Chinese national security. Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, are still being held by Chinese authorities in what the Justin Trudeau government has called arbitrary detentions.Weeks after those detentions, Trudeau fired Canada’s former ambassador to China, John McCallum, for going off-script in the government’s efforts to win the release of the two men. Before his posting in Beijing, McCallum was a longtime Liberal MP and cabinet minister.Meanwhile China has blocked Canadian canola shipments in the last few months and has suspended the licences of two major Canadian exporters.China’s decision to cut off Canadian shipments is widely viewed as an attempt to apply economic pressure on Canada following Meng’s arrest.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says Ottawa needs to treat Chinese imports with the same scrutiny China is showing Canada’s canola shipments.— with files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press