Canada has reviewed its China travel advisory, warning of a risk of arbitrary law enforcement after a Chinese court sentenced of its nationals to death over drug charges.
Ottawa recommended its nationals “exercise a high degree of caution” in the country.
The advisory followed the death sentence ruled against Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, earlier on Monday.
Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 accused of planning to send 222 kg of methamphetamines from China to Australia.
In November 2018, the Canadian was given a 15-year prison sentence by the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court, but following an appeal, a court on Monday sentenced him to death.
The sentence comes amid a diplomatic crisis between the two countries that started on December 1, 2018, when Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, was detained in Canada.
Meng’s arrest was made at the request of the US, which wants her extradited for fraud and violating Washington’s sanctions against Iran.
In the weeks after her arrest, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – suspected of activities that Beijing says put the country’s national security at risk.
Canadian media said that although in the past death sentences have been handed down to foreign citizens in China for drug trafficking, Schellenberg’s case was not made public by the Chinese authorities until after Meng’s arrest.
“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty,” Justin Trudeau told the media in Ottawa on Monday.
Schellenberg has 10 days to appeal to the Liaoning High Court.
China is believed to execute thousands of people each year – more than all other countries in the world put together, but is highly secretive about the number, according to the Amnesty International.