China sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges Thursday as tensions between the two countries grow, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Xu Weihong was given his sentence Thursday by the Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court. He had allegedly been making Ketamine, a powerful and commonly abused painkiller, since 2016, local newspapers reported. Over 266 pounds of the drug were found in the homes of Weihong and one other person, according to local reports.
The court said that they sentenced Weihong’s alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, to life in prison, according to the Associated Press.
Tensions between China and Canada have been escalating since 2018 when the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech company Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested at an airport in Vancouver. Beijing saw the arrest as a move to prevent China from growing as a global technology power, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. wants Wanzhou extradited to face fraud charges related to deals that Huawei made with Iran.
China later accused Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor of vague crimes related to national security and detained them both in what appeared to be retaliation for Wanzhou’s arrest.
Shortly after, Canadian national Robert Schellenberg was suddenly handed a death sentence in a retrial over drug smuggling. Fan Wei, the second Canadian citizen to receive a death sentence for drug crimes, was convicted in April 2019 on drug smuggling charges, the Associated Press reported.
“I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Thursday, according to the Associated Press. “This case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations.”
“Death sentences for drug-related crimes that are extremely dangerous will help deter and prevent such crimes. China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with law,” Wenbin added.