Canadian sentenced to death on drug charges

China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.

The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.

Death sentences are automatically referred to China’s highest court for review.

The brief court statement gave no details, but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and begun making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

Police later confiscated more than 266 pounds of the drug from Xu’s home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful painkiller that has become popular among clubgoers in China and elsewhere.

Relations between China and Canada soured over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The United States wants her extradited to face fraud charges over the company’s dealings with Iran. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise as a global technology power.

In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, accusing them of vague national security crimes.

Soon after, China handed a death sentence to convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg in a sudden retrial, and in April 2019, it gave the death penalty to a Canadian citizen identified as Fan Wei in a drug-smuggling case.

Beijing has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, in an apparent attempt to pressure Ottawa into releasing Meng.

— Associated Press

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