Canada won't release Huawei exec: Trudeau

PM Justin Trudeau has ruled out freeing a Huawei executive to win the release of two Canadians

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says trading two Canadians jailed in China for the top Huawei executive held under house arrest in Canada on a US extradition request would put millions of Canadians at risk.

Speaking at his daily pandemic briefing in Ottawa, Trudeau was responding to comments by a Chinese official who signalled on Wednesday that Beijing authorities are ready to discuss freeing the two Canadians jailed for more than 560 days on charges of espionage if Canadian officials stops extradition proceedings against Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press briefing that terminating proceedings to extradite Meng to the US, where she faces charges of fraud and other economic crimes, would "conform to the rule of law and be beneficial to solving the two Canadian citizens' problem".

The two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, who've become known in Canada as the Two Michaels, were jailed in China just days after Meng's arrest in Vancouver in December 2018.

Trudeau said he cannot allow "random arrests of Canadian citizens to influence the functioning of our justice system".

"It is not just the Two Michaels that are at question here. It is every Canadian who travels to China or anywhere else overseas," Trudeau said.

"If the Chinese government concludes from this exchange and this interaction that it is an effective way to gain leverage over Canadians and over the Canadian government to randomly arrest Canadians, then no Canadian will be safe going forward."