Michael Kovrig is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - International Crisis Group

Michael Kovrig is shown in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - International Crisis Group

Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

A former Canadian diplomat has been arrested in China, according to media reports and the international think tank he works for.

A former Canadian diplomat — who worked as a political lead for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2016 visit to Hong Kong — has reportedly been arrested in China.

The International Crisis Group says it is aware of media reports that Michael Kovrig, its North East Asia senior adviser, has been detained.

A member of the organization wrote in a short email that it has no additional information at this time.

“We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael’s whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release,” the organization said in a statement.

Canada’s foreign affairs department has yet to respond to a request for comment.

China’s embassy in Ottawa also has yet to provide a response to a request for information.

Read more: Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Read more: B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

News of Kovrig’s detention comes after China warned Canada of consequences for its recent arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver’s airport — but it is unclear if there is any link between the two cases.

Kovrig wrote on his LinkedIn profile that he served as the political lead on the “successful visit” of Trudeau’s visit to Hong Kong in September 2016.

In his profile, Kovrig describes himself as an international policy analyst and strategist “at the intersection of communication, politics, economics and global security.” He says he has 20 years of international experience — and about 10 years working for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, domestically and in postings abroad.

A profile on the International Crisis Group’s website says Kovrig previously worked as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and at the United Nations in New York. The group says Kovrig, who speaks Mandarin, researches and provides analysis on foreign affairs and global security issues in North East Asia, particularly China, Japan and the Korean peninsula.

Kovrig, the group said, had been one of its full-time experts since February 2017.

The International Crisis Group describes itself as an “independent organization working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world.”

The Canadian Press

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