A Canadian businessman, who is one of the only Western figures to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, has gone missing in China.
Michael Spavor has been declared missing after he alerted the Canadian government he was being taken in for questioning in China earlier this week and hasn’t been heard from since, according to Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.
He is the second Canadian figure to go missing in China in the past two days.
Spavor is the director of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that brings tourists and athletes to North Korea. He helped arrange a visit to North Korea where former NBA player Dennis Rodman met Kim Jong-Un in 2017.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed that Spavor has missing in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Canadian businessman Michael Spavor was pronounced missing in China on Wednesday after he was questioned by local authorities and hasn’t been heard from since
Spavor is the director of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that brings tourists and athletes to North Korea and is one of the few Westerners to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
He was due to be in Seoul, South Korea on Monday but never showed up. He told Canadian authorities he was summoned for questioning in China and hasn’t been heard from since. Spavor pictured above with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un
He helped arrange a visit to North Korea by former NBA player Dennis Rodman (pictured left)
‘We are aware that a Canadian citizen, Mr Michael Spavor, is presently missing in China,’ the government said.
‘As the Foreign Minister said today, we are aware of a Canadian citizen who was in contact with us from China. We have been unable to make contact since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities. We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we continue to raise this with the Chinese government,’ the statement added.
His disappearance comes just two days after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in China on Monday December 10.
He was arrested on suspicion of engaging in ‘activities that harmed China’s national security’, according to Chinese media.
‘Canada is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr. Kovrig and Canada has raised the case directly with Chinese officials,’ Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said after his arrest.
After Kovrig was detained, Spavor contacted the Canadian government saying he was summoned for questioning. He’s believed to have been missing since Monday as well.
He reportedly knows Kovrig, according to The Globe and Mail.
His disappearance comes just two days after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in China on Monday. Kovrig and Spavor reportedly know each other
Spavor lives in China but works closely with North and South Korea. He was due to arrive to Seoul, South Korea on Monday but never showed up, according to CTV News.
It also comes less than two weeks after Meng Wanzhou, the chief executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, at the request of the United States for possible extradition.
Wanzhou was arrested on U.S. claims that she used a Hong Kong shell company to do business with Iran, violating U.S. sanctions.
Meng was released on Tuesday after posting $10million bail but she is still confined to Vancouver and nearby suburbs and must where a GPS tracker.
The Canadian government has not said if the detainment of Kovrig and Spavor are acts of retaliation by the Chinese government following Wanzhou’s arrest.
Friends and experts say Kovrig may have become a ‘hostage’ and ‘pawn’ in a three-nation feud, according to AFP.
Kovrig and Spavor’s detainment follow the arrest of prominent Chinese businesswoman Meng Wanzhou, 46, in Vancouver, Canada on December 1. Wanzhou was arrested on U.S. claims that she used a Hong Kong shell company to do business with Iran, violating U.S. sanctions
Meng was released on Tuesday after posting $10million bail but she is still confined to Vancouver and nearby suburbs and must where a GPS tracker. Pictured above arriving to the parole office with a security guard in Vancouver
According to Canada’s former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, ‘In China there are no coincidences’.
‘In this case it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the Canadian government,’ he said to Canadian Broadcasing Corporation on Tuesday when asked about Kovrig’s arrest that shortly followed Wanzhou’s.
After Wanzhou was arrested, China threatened severe consequences to Canada.
Analysts predicted that retaliation for the arrest was likely.
The tensions between Canada and China come as the U.S. and China make trade talks this week.
The president said he’d wade into the case of Wanzhou if it would help produce a trade agreement with China.