China abducted two Canadians. What do they need to release them?

Fifteen years ago, after the SARS epidemic, a medical researcher named Michel Chrétien and his longtime collaborator Majambu Mbikay proposed a hypothesis in their laboratory in Montreal. A group of scientists around the world are realizing the reality of a new generation of infections like SARS. Chrétien and Mbikay, researchers at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) believe that quercetin derivatives are a "broad-spectrum" antiviral drug that can fight multiple viruses, and quercetin is a known help Cholesterol-lowering compounds. When the Ebola virus outbreak swept West Africa in 2014, two scientists collaborated with the Winnipeg National Microbiology Laboratory to test the effect of quercetin on mice infected with Ebola virus and found that the effect was significant. They also think it can fight Zika virus. The drug still requires clinical trials. But late last year, when a new global health crisis broke out in Wuhan, China, Chretien and his team started working again. Their research suggests that the drug may work on the new coronavirus COVID-19.

Michel Chrétien refused to retire. The 84-year-old physician and medical researcher was the seventh most-cited scientist in the world, with his name in more than 600 publications. His achievements contrast with those of his older brother, Jean, which is impressive considering that special siblings have been Prime Ministers of Canada for ten years. Michele almost certainly saved more lives.

The idea of ​​his team quickly moved to the field of practice. When Chrétien studied biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, he had accepted a long-term close relationship with Chinese researcher C.H. Dr. Lee, which led to Chrétien's visit to China in 1979 and a seven-fold increase in subsequent years. Chrétien is an honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Peking Union Medical College. In 1984, when he was chairman of IRCM, he trained emerging scientists from China. One young man was molecular biologist Chen Zhu, who eventually entered politics and served as China's health minister from 2007 to 2013. When a new coronavirus broke out in January, Chretien made an offer to Zhu: "Can we help?" [19659004] Learn more: When should the Chinese government be held responsible for the spread of coronavirus?

Zhu met with the highest official of the National Health Council, the government agency responsible for the crisis. News spread to Chrétien and his team in mid-February. Chrétien's team was invited to start clinical trials in China as soon as possible. Plan: Send samples of quercetin to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan. Canadian and Chinese scientists will cooperate equally in the trial, which will include approximately 1,000 patients. Chrétien and Mbikay plan to work with the non-profit organization International Anti-Virus Alliance, which was co-founded by Jeresmy Carver in 2004 in response to the SARS outbreak, to staff the 24-7 communications center at the beginning of the clinical trial.

If there is a cure, it will be easily available: Swiss manufacturer Quercegen Pharmaceuticals can quickly produce thousands of doses of the drug. Next, Chrétien needed funding to begin the trial in Wuhan. His team spent weeks at Global Affairs Canada and then Health Canada seeking senior officials. Chretien said there was no time to waste. "I have been doing science all my life. He said:

Quercetin is not the only way to treat COVID-19; quercetin is not the most urgent thing I have encountered throughout my career. China is doing dozens of others Clinical trials. Of the drugs tested, the most notable is ramxivir produced by a U.S. company. But the price of quercetin may be partially different; according to Chrétien, the compound is based on onions and grapes A common compound that costs less than $ 2 a day, while some antivirals cost $ 1,000 a day. This is a huge potential in finding affordable treatments for deadly coronavirus strains Leap.

For Canada, the drug could have serious ancillary benefits-you can use it off-label if you like. For the plight of two Canadians who have struggled in Chinese prisons for 14 months This may be a dark horse therapy. Michael Kovrig, a diplomat and businessman, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, are now in prison For more than 400 days, one of them is now in the suburbs of Beijing and the other is near the North Korean border without any charges or evidence that they have violated any laws. They have stayed alone for several months without the sun They did not have the opportunity to meet their family members (although they have been able to meet with lawyers in recent months, Globe and Mail reports, Maclean confirmed by sources). According to Canadian media reports, Kovrig was recently allowed to speak to his seriously ill father, and both Michaels were "provided with better food" during the Michael Kuwait (COVID-19) outbreak. But they are still being used by China Abduction.

Related: Coronavirus in China: I travel through the land of the forbidden area

Chretien and his team must know that their potential discovery is a critical moment in Sino-Canadian relations. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police China arrested Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition order in December 2018 Spavor has arbitrarily detained in retaliation. The deep freeze on diplomacy marks a new low in bilateral relations. Canada's mild pressure campaign to release two Michaels to no avail.

The fate of the Michaels is one of the fate facing the federal government Difficult decisions resonate more: should global telecommunications giant Huawei with close ties to China be part of allowing the establishment of Canada's emerging 5G network? In addition to being labeled a national security threat by Western spy chiefs, the company Iran's sanctions have been under investigation for years, and have recently been charged with extortion and conspiracy to steal trade secrets in the United States. Will the decision to give Huawei a green light or prevent Huawei from participating in it affect the freedom of the Michaels? For months, experts and insiders have debated these issues as diplomats built cars behind closed doors.

Now that China is facing a pandemic public health disaster that is sweeping the globe, it is possible to change the political landscape. The coronavirus drug trials developed in Montreal are a true collaborative project between the two countries, and Canadian funding has boosted the laboratory work of Chinese scientists. The Lazaridis Family Foundation has donated $ 1 million for this, enough to conduct clinical trials. The initiative could lead to a shift in frost relationships that can only help the Michaels. Although Chrétien, to a large extent, a scientist, or showing political skills comparable to siblings, will boast about the benefits of academic freedom. He said: "In order to do this, basic science is worth doing, without knowing what the short-term or medium-term results will be." "Long-term returns may be great."


Meng Wanzhou left home during his court appearance in Vancouver, Canada on January 17, 2020. (Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images)

Public health diplomacy is only the latest idea that has surfaced. It is a possible lever for the difficult rescue of the Michaels. Former Chinese vacation diplomat Kovrig and entrepreneur Spavor, known for his close ties with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (Chinese ally), were arrested by Chinese authorities on December 10, 2018. The scope of their detention is widely seen as leverage or punishment for the arrest of the Canadian Monk Tit during a trip to Vancouver International Airport. The extradition process began a few days later and is still ongoing. Meng's conditions of release mainly limited her to her multi-million dollar home, although she was allowed to walk around the city before the curfew every night. In contrast, Kovrig and Spavor were detained under harsh conditions, they were interrogated for several hours and forced to live in cells that had never been turned off. Once, Kovrig's defender confiscated his glasses and replaced the metal frame with plastic.

Michaels is only the latest soldier in the strategy of China's foreign policy center in Xi Jinping's time. Chinese experts around the world often refer to it as "hostage diplomacy". Any country that inadvertently crosses China may see its people abducted for months or years at a time, and often without any formal arrest or charge. Blocked up.

Peter Humphrey knows reality better than most people. Humphrey, a Shanghai-based fraud investigator, underwent a bribery investigation on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline in 2013 when he and his wife Yu Yingzeng were detained and charged with "illegal access to personal information." He was squeezed into a crowded cell, unable to use hot water, and had a toilet hole in the floor. After GlaxoSmithKline's China operation was convicted by the Chinese for bribery and imposed a high fine, the couple were eventually convicted and released in 2015.

Michael's case must also familiarize two Canadian missionaries, Kevin and Julia Garratt, with operating a cafe popular with foreigners in Dandong, across the Yalu River in eastern North Korea. They were dragged into a detention facility in 2014-Kevin was in the same facility as Spavor-and were typically treated harshly. Obviously, the Galatians are just bargaining chips for the Chinese. U.S. authorities have called for the extradition of Chinese citizen Su Bin, who lives in Canada, on espionage charges; China needs leverage. Julia was released in 2015; Kevin held it for another year.

Guy St. Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, warns that the freedom prospects of Coffrig and Spavol may soon get worse. Gail Saint-Jacques gained valuable experience during Garat's imprisonment. He noted that Chinese prosecutors can now file a lawsuit on any day to initiate legal proceedings that could further impede Canada's efforts and detain them for years.

The Michael family, like other detainees in Chinese prisons, were unfortunate victims and were arrested. In political crossfire. Canada itself is caught in the relentless geopolitical struggle between China and the United States. These are the two superpowers who hate each other. They have waged a long and painful trade war.


  On February 28, 2018, video, Michael Kovrig, an adviser to the Brussels-based NGO International Crisis Group, spoke in an interview in Hong Kong. More than a hundred academics and former diplomats have called on China to release two Canadians, Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavol, who have been retaliated against for arresting a Chinese high-tech executive in Canada. (AP / CP)

In a video image of this document taken on March 28, 2018, Michael Kovrig, a consultant with the Brussels-based NGO International Crisis Group, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP / CP)

Since the arrest of Michaels, two schools of thought have emerged, providing radically different solutions to this problem, and basic questions about how to engage with China.

One camp is urging easing policies and may even exchange terms with the Chinese. Former Chief of Staff of Jean Chrétien, Eddie Goldenberg, proposed the so-called prisoner swap: Meng was the Michaels, reflecting the views of many liberals of his time. John McCallum, the minister of the Chretien era, was fired in 2018 because he opposed the government and advocated such trade. Jean Chrétien personally offered last year to travel to China on behalf of Canada to negotiate with the release of Michaels; Globe and Mail reported that he had discussed the intervention of the Canadian Attorney General to stop Bangladesh Idea of ​​extradition.

Other voices disagree with any direct interchange, but urge multilateral diplomacy-the pressure exercise gate following the closure-to engage in a lot of constructive dialogue. Any form of dialogue should be overdue. In an unprepared battle-some believe that Canada should at least warn Meng to fly to Vancouver or remind Beijing of the arrest through diplomatic channels-Ottawa has taken non-intervention in the Michaels case Attitude. Allies have expressed support, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but Canada and China ’s foreign ministers have not met for eight months after their arrest.

In contrast, after the Iranian military shot down Flight 752 in January, Canada convened an international coordination and response team of five countries to put pressure on Iranians to impose "questions on the victims' families" Accountability, transparency and justice. " Some critics have asked if this early leadership could pave the way for Michaels to achieve better results?

Read more: Terrible relations between Canada and China. There is now a committee.

Another camp insisted that Beijing only respect power and force, and that Canada must create influence where power and force are not available. In this camp, the bullish Chinese President Xi Jinping is a geopolitical dangerous leader and has shown a brutal attitude towards his regime in treating its own citizens and foreign nationals.

"Now we are seeing hostage-taking of Meng Wanzhou's detention," said Peter Humphrey, a research assistant at New York University. Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University. Canada can send Meng home through political intervention. However, he said: "Canada is a fortress of the rule of law because we believe in the rule of law in a democratic society and it cannot be done." The case is just a symptom. He said: "China is waging war, but it has not yet waged war with tanks, aircraft carriers and bombers, but it is waging war with the rest of the world to control and rule."

Famous Chinese critic and writer Gordon The 21st page of the book "The Collapse of China" published in 2001 explained in stark terms the views of authoritarian states on the rule of law: "China has no rule of law." He told Maclean & # 39; s Canada should not compromise its Western values. "This could be the result of two [Michaels] indefinite detentions. That is terrible," he said. But in essence, paying ransom to hostage-takers may only encourage Zhang Chang's "military, hostile" state.

 Yu Yingzeng and Peter Humphrey's home in Surrey, 2017 (Trezza Cervesova)

Yu Yingzeng and Peter Humphrey in their Surrey's At home, in 2017 (TerezaČerveňová)

Both he and Humphrey insisted that Canada's leverage was far greater than its performance. "You have to be stronger when dealing with Chinese in Canada, which actually violates the law," Humphrey said. Humphrey said the state's agents have penetrated the provincial and federal levels of the Canadian government. "Stop standing with these people. You know where they are." Indeed, the revised 2019 annual report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of MPs named China a “ engagement in foreign intervention '' at all levels of government and on university campuses. & # 39; & # 39; The report reads: "Although most elected and appointed officials conduct their business in an upright manner, some people are intentionally or unintentionally subject to foreign intervention, which endangers the integrity of the Canadian government system."

Canada also Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, who has other leverage, but is not a senior civil servant for so long, said that she served on the Canada-China Joint Commission on Science and Technology for seven years, and for most of it He has worked with his Chinese counterparts throughout his career. McCaig-Johnston pointed out in a paper at the McDonald-Lauriel Institute in November last year that she had “invested in decades of personal effort” in Canada-China relations, which made her “speak publicly” "pain". But she believes that Ottawa needs to re-establish relations with Beijing. She wrote that we should not associate trade and economic policy with its mission to release the Michaels; China did so when it banned Canadian pork and canola seeds imports.

In her opinion, symbolic gestures may also have an impact. Federal officials can tell Chinese athletes to return home after training in Canada for the 2022 Olympics. They can return the cute giant pandas of the Calgary Zoo to China by 2023. They could freeze Chinese buyers from the Canadian real estate market based on nationality rather than race, and consider withdrawing from the Beijing-based initiative Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

"I recognize that Beijing may have retribution for such action." "But they may be required to communicate to China that their actions have gone too far, and it should give more respect to its partners for nearly fifty years. [19659002] In the words of President Xi Jinping himself, it is easy to find support in support of a more rigorous view of Chinese policy. Xi Jinping said in September last year: "For those who prevent China from achieving a great national rejuvenation, as long as they are there, we will work with them Resolute struggle.


 In this document image from March 2, 2017, Paektu cultural exchange director Michael Spavor speaks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China. More than a hundred scholars and former diplomats have called on China to release two Canadians, former diplomats Spavol and Michael Coffrigg, who have been retaliated against for arresting a Chinese high-tech executive in Canada . (AP / CP)

In the image of this document, taken from March 2, 2017, Michael Spavor, Director of Cultural Exchange at Paektu, speaks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China. (AP / CP)

In the fall of 2018, the Canadian spy chief made an amazing statement at an international cybersecurity seminar in Ottawa. Canadian Security Intelligence Director David Vigneault told listeners that China's ambitions for cyber espionage are the biggest threat to Western democracies. The National Post excavated a copy of his speech, which specifically warned that China ’s foreign investment in fifth-generation or 5G networks has introduced “new espionage and disruption risks.” He is not alone . The key link in Sino-US relations is Huawei. Western intelligence officials have long warned that this will pose a threat to national security.

In all of these contexts, the federal government faces the challenge of allowing wireless operators to use Huawei hardware in their 5G networks. This Chinese technology giant, along with Sweden's Ericsson and Finland's Nokia, is one of the world's three leading providers. It is coming in the era of data speeds and features, as well as driverless cars, "Internet of Things" and high-definition technology. In one leap, the movie will download to your phone in the time you need to read this sentence.

Officials have expressed serious concerns about making Huawei part of the new technology infrastructure. This cyber threat is one of the most precious things that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on. Robert O'Brien, Trump's national security adviser, warned last fall at the Halifax Security Forum that the "Huawei Trojan Horse" could allow Chinese intelligence agencies to directly access Canadian data core. Huawei claims to be independent of authoritarian states, but Chinese law can now force companies to assist in intelligence operations.

Related: "In Huawei, we did not attach a laser beam to the shark's head"

Asked Huawei to help establish some lawmakers warn that 5G networks could lead to U.S. restrictions on intelligence sharing. Officials of the intelligence group's fellow countries) pose a threat. Therefore, Canada's decision on Huawei's participation in its 5G infrastructure can anger China or Americans, depending on the outcome.

Since arriving in Ottawa in 2008, this technology company has taken root in Canada. Canadians may be most familiar with China Telecom sponsoring hockey on Sportsnet, but most of the company's funding is related to research and development. Huawei Canada says it invests millions of dollars in Canadian universities each year. Alykhan Velshi, Huawei Canada's vice president of corporate affairs, said his company has spent 12 years building the telecommunications industry in the northern border. "We employ more than 1,200 Canadians," he said. "With our Canadian partners, we have helped build the 4G LTE and 3G wireless networks that people today rely on nationwide."

The company is currently deepening these The underlying initiative is partly a response to its leadership. American research university. Huawei has invested millions of dollars in U.S. schools over the past decade, but last year, due to pressure from Washington and a new federal law that barred recipients of federal funds from using Huawei equipment or infrastructure, Princeton University Stanford and Berkeley have cut links.

Huawei Canada insists that it has been working with the Federal Electronic Spy Service, the Canadian Communications Security Establishment, for many years. "We maintain regular contact with the government and its security agencies," Velshi said. "We have repeatedly told them that in terms of 5G network security, we are willing to undergo any tests and meet any benchmarks to ensure their commitment to Huawei's security and privacy protection."

Reconciliation information from Chinese officials has decreased. Following the detention of Spavor and Kovrig in January 2019. "If the Canadian government does ban Huawei from joining the 5G network," Lusaye, the ambassador to Canada, told reporters, "there is no certainty what the impact will be.

In December, another Chinese envoy, German Ambassador Wu Ken, Beijing's idea has no hint. He reminded Berlin's business crowd that China buys 7 million German cars every year and ponders. Declares unsafe for protectionist reasons. Prime Minister Angela Merkel has been reluctant Huawei has been banned because of this trade concern. At the same time, Australia and Japan have been preventing large Chinese companies from entering the 5G era, ignoring warnings on intelligence rather than other considerations.

Read more: Huawei's Meng Wanzhou: The World The most wanted woman on the Internet

China does not associate 5G with the fate of humankind, says Paul Evans, a professor at the Institute of Global Studies at the University of British Columbia's Liu Global Issues. "Thank God." But it is likely that Beijing will carefully observe which countries are competing for technology in the East and the West. Which side was chosen in the struggle for technological and industrial dominance. Evans said: "If we are in full opposition to Americans in Huawei's decision and in the competition of technological nationalists, it will be difficult to see that this has played a role in bargaining with hostages. Works well.

Pervasive views in Chinese circles Wesley Walker, national security expert and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa's Center for Public Management, said that Canada is the "cat's paw" of the United States, and it is a subordinate partner of the United States, blindly following A US order. He said that the 5G dilemma could be an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate its sovereign decision-making capabilities. Walker emphasized that he believes Ottawa should not include its prisoner dilemma in its 5G decision-making. However, if it can show China through actions or words It is deciding not to be affected by the United States. "It would be great if this created an opportunity for the Chinese to reconsider the detention of the two Michaels," he said.

Believing that the United Kingdom might have provided Canada with a compromise decision The way forward, which seems to appease China (although not the United States). Britain ranks Huawei as a "high-risk supplier" and it cannot build its core 5G system or any equipment around critical government infrastructure, but it can provide the periphery Hardware-Just like an antenna, it only transfers data between the user and the secure core. This route allows Attractive to Canada, as telecom professionals Telus and Bell have stated that they will seek different providers for their 5G cores, but hope to be able to incorporate Huawei equipment elsewhere in the network.

Abbott, the more cooperative company Gordon Holden, director of the China Research Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, said that stance on Huawei beyond the United States may help improve the atmosphere between China and Canada. "I am afraid that the answer China wants most-Huawei, fine , Fired-I'm afraid I won't take the Michaels out tomorrow. "But a subtle decision will help create an environment that may make it easier to resolve.


 From left to right: Majambu Mbikay, Richard Mayrand, Michel Chretien, Jeremy Carver (Photo

From left to right: Majambu Mbikay, Richard Mayrand, Michel Chrétien, Jeremy Carver (Photo by Will Lew )

A coronavirus has entered this stew that has ravaged China, causing thousands of deaths and tens of illnesses, and thousands more are attacking the injured country. Pointing out demand for crude oil "China's economy is currently shrinking," said Gordon Chang, who closed down factories and container ships and left ports well below capacity.

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, Canada Faces clear public health risks. World. Despite this, despite Australia and the United States taking action against the outbreak and banning travel from China, Canada did not impose these restrictions on travelers and instead provided assistance in the form of medical equipment, which The move didn't catch people's attention in Beijing. On February 12, the sick superpower was on the podium of Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. An olive branch was provided. Geng said, "We sincerely thank Canada for its support and assistance in the fight against AIDS in China." "We applaud the statement of Canada's Minister of Health [Patty Hajdu]which reflects Canada's scientific and rational judgment." Leading the world The doctor of the WHO expert group in China also happens to be Canadian epidemiologist Bruce Elward.

Canadians responded. Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne He had two dialogues with his Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2020. At the Munich Security Conference in February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau softened his language when speaking about Canadian medical assistance. Trudeau In Germany: "Just because you have serious differences on an issue that is extremely important to you and Canadians, but that doesn't stop you from continuing to talk and trying to solve other issues at the same time." "There are too many aspects of global relations, Do n’t try to engage constructively. ”A few weeks later, in a message to a Montreal audience, Champagne used a similar language when speaking in foreign policy.

Read more: Coronavirus in Canada: These charts show our struggle for "flattening the curve"

New enthusiasm from China, in contrast to the oldest The apparent difference in harshly condemning Canada's actions may mark the beginning of a new chapter. However, the release of the Michaels may be of limited value. Another former ambassador, David Mulroney, told Canadian media that goodwill is far Far from enough. Zhang would agree; he said that apart from Meng's release, it would appease the Chinese. He said: "Canadians need to stop thinking when trying to understand China, but think about the Chinese way of thinking." "Life is not important to Xi Jinping."

There is no alternative to the Michaels case, so there is no As suggested from Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa, return the panda to Canada and ban Canadian cargo planes from flying out of Canadian airspace Maclean & # 39; s ? Even if it is not persuasive, the participation of senior officials will certainly be registered. Dominic Barton, Canada's new ambassador to China, last served as managing director of global consulting giant McKinsey & Co. In February of this year, he informed the parliamentary committee of the anger inside the chamber during his first meeting with congressional officials. "This is probably one of the most unpleasant conversations I've had," he said, but said that releasing Kovrig and Spavol was his number one priority and conveyed by breaking the delicate diplomatic traditions This information. Usually, consular officials, not ambassadors, visit imprisoned foreigners. When Garratts were illegally detained, it was not the then ambassador Saint-Jacques who came to inspect them. But Barton himself took on the task, hoping that it would unambiguously convey his promise to the Michaels.

China's personal interests may be a useful force. Last November, China ended a five-month ban on Canadian pork and beef, ostensibly due to so-called fake inspection certificates and banned additives. But the change of heart may be chalked up to naked national interest more than bilateral chess: China was running low on meat, thanks to African swine fever's massive toll on Chinese hog farms. (Chinese ports have remained shut to Canadian canola since March, also for safety reasons Canada says are unsubstantiated.)

 Kevin Garratt and his wife Julia pose for a portrait in the backyard of a home they & # 39; re staying at after recently returning to Canada. The couple were doing Christian charity work in China near the North Korean border when they were detained by police and had been accused by Chinese authorities of stealing military and defence research secrets and charged with espionage. Kevin would spend almost two years in custody before being deported. (Fred Lum / The Globe and Mail / CP)

Kevin and Julia Garratt (Fred Lum / The Globe and Mail / CP)

And then there is the act of god, even an unwelcome one. In Peter Humphrey's case, ill health—he fell ill with ca ncer while in prison—helped to free him. The Garratts, on the other hand, scored a stroke of good luck when Su Bin turned himself in, suggests Guy Saint-Jacques, the former Canadian ambassador, a turn no Canadian official could have engineered . Su's guilty plea helped the US government acquire evidence of government-backed corporate espionage, and the Chinese backed down.

Could Michel Chrétien's drug offer a ray of hope on all three fronts? A high-level Chinese-Canadian partnership on clinical trials to treat the coronavirus, one relying on long-standing research connections, could help smooth relations between the countries. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada's federal funding agency for health research, will shovel more than $ 300 million into rapid coronavirus research; the quercetin proposal for trials didn't qualify, but the Lazaridis Family Foundation funding is a start—and Chrétien's team still hopes for more federal assistance. [19659002] In a gesture consistent with Beijing's general negotiating style, China's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, threw cold water on public-health diplomacy as a panacea. He told a defence and security conference in Ottawa on March 4 that Canada's robust efforts to fight COVID-19 are “appreciated” and “good,” but not sufficient to repair the broader relationship. “You know the outstanding issue for the bilateral relationship,” Cong told journalists who had pressed him for a response. He didn't have to say Meng's name.

But if the drug proves effective for COVID-19, it could help China save face and, most importantly, lives. Even if it doesn't, a collaborative project like it may help China's image as a global citizen. Saint-Jacques, who sits on the board of directors of the ICRM Foundation that raises money for medical research, said such a breakthrough “may help to switch the channel.” He speculates that Global Affairs Canada could at least parlay t hat goodwill into bail for Kovrig and Spavor, who could take up temporary residence at the Canadian embassy in Beijing as they await trial. The best outcome, of course, in a country like China, would be full release with no trial. For the Michaels ' interminable detention to end that way, ailing Canada-China relations might need a medical miracle.

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