Monday’s death sentence for Canadian Robert Schellenberg for smuggling 222 kg of methamphetamines became the latest strain on ties.
Freeland said Ottawa had formally applied for clemency for Schellenberg, as it usually does in the cases of citizens condemned to death abroad.
“It’s normal to have problems but we should also remember that the links between our two countries are very big,” she told a televised news conference in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, adding Canada had been in touch with Beijing at a number of levels.
“It is true that this is a difficult moment ... The best thing for both Canada and China, and frankly for the whole world, is to get past these current difficulties.”
Freeland’s office did not respond when asked whether she had been trying to defuse tensions with Beijing.
China has not linked any of the three Canadians’ cases to Meng’s arrest but has warned of severe consequences if she was not immediately released.
Trudeau said it should be of “extreme concern” to Canada’s allies, as it was to his government, that China had chosen to “arbitrarily apply” the death penalty.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with that.
“The remarks by the relevant Canadian person lack the most basic awareness of the legal system,” Hua told reporters.
Taking Canada to task for issuing an updated travel advisory warning citizens about the risk of arbitrary enforcement of laws in China, Hua said Canada should instead remind its people to avoid drug smuggling.
“We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China’s legal sovereignty, correct its mistakes, and stop making irresponsible remarks,” Hua said.
The ministry later issued its own travel warning, citing the “arbitrary detention” of a Chinese national in Canada.