China's foreign ministry warns citizens about risk of travelling to Canada

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Tensions are rising between Canada and China after an Abbotsford man, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was sentenced yesterday to death for drug smuggling.

      And it could start affecting the bottom line of hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions from Victoria to Halifax.

      The sentence against Schellenberg was issued in the northern Chinese city of Dalian after prosecutors appealed a 15-year sentence issued in November.

      In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China of imposing this penalty "arbitrarily".

      In addition, the Canadian government issued a travel advisory for China, urging Canadians to "exercise a high degree of caution".

      The advisory warns of the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws in China and the death penalty for drug-related offences.

      That drew a sharp reaction from Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

      She told reporters that the accusation of arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens is "totally unfounded".

      And China's foreign ministry has responded with its own travel advisory for citizens thinking of coming to Canada. 

      According to China, its people need to "fully evaluate risks".

      Beijing has cited the "arbitrary detention" of a Chinese person in Canada—Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou—at the request of the United States.

      The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is one of many Vancouver attractions visited by Chinese tourists.
      Vancouver park board

      Travel from China at record levels

      Destination Canada reported a record 682,000 arrivals from China in 2017, up 12 percent over the previous year.

      "Travelling mostly during the peak travel months of July and August, Chinese tourists spend on average almost $2,400 per trip to Canada, staying for around 31 nights," the federal agency stated. "About 41% of these trips are for the purpose of visiting friends and family, and 25% for pleasure and recreation."

      There were 647,000 visitors from China in the first 10 months of 2018, which was six percent above the same period of 2017.

      Meanwhile, Trudeau has also accused China of "not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity" by arresting Michael Kovrig, who's on leave as a Canadian diplomat with Global Affairs Canada.

      Hua rejected that, noting that he used an ordinary passport and travelled to China on a business visa.

      Kovrig was taken into custody "on suspicion of involvement in activities endangering China's national security".

      "As for the issue of immunity, I would suggest relevant person in Canada to read and study the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and international law first before making any comment, instead of making himself a laughingstock with specious statements," she said on January 14.

      Canadian businessman Michael Spavor is also being detained by the Chinese government.

      His arrest is viewed in the West as retaliation for Canada's detention of Meng at the request of U.S. authorities.