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, conducts research and analysis on foreign affairs and global security issues in northeast 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.”
Roland Paris, who served as Trudeau’s senior foreign policy adviser until June 2016, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that Chinese “retaliation against Canadian interests or Canadians would be unacceptable and pointless.”
“It would have zero impact on judicial proceedings in Canada,” wrote Paris, a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa. “Beijing should already know this from previous experience. Let cooler heads prevail.”
Meng’s arrest in Vancouver has heightened tensions between Canada and China. The United States is seeking to have Meng extradited on allegations that she tried to bypass American trade sanctions on Iran.
Beijing has warned Canada of unspecified “grave consequences” for the arrest of Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.
She’s described in some circles as “corporate royalty” in China. On TV and social media, commentators likened her arrest to the detention in China of a Mark Zuckerberg sibling or a cousin of Steve Jobs.
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’s aware of media reports that Michael Kovrig, its northeast Asia senior adviser, has been detained. A member of the organization wrote in a short email that it has no additional information yet.
“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.
Global Affairs Canada 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.
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 so far it’s 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” Trudeau made to Hong Kong in September 2016. At the time, Kovrig worked in Canada’s consulate-general in Hong Kong.
Huawei is one of the world’s largest telecom companies.