Asia-Pacific

Second Canadian 'missing' in China identified as North Korea tourism business operator

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A second Canadian, who runs a business in North Korea, has gone missing in China.

A second Canadian who has gone missing in China is under investigation on suspicion of "engaging in activities that harm China's national security", state media reported Thursday.

Michael Spavor was "being investigated" by the Dandong city branch of China's ministry of state security and the probe started on December 10, according to a government news agency in northeastern Liaoning province.

Spavor, who is based in China, runs the Paektu Cultural Exchange, an organisation that facilitates business, tourism and sport trips to North Korea and famously helped former NBA star Dennis Rodman visit the isolated country.

Michael Spavor, pictured with Kim Jong-un, runs a business in North Korea.
Michael Spavor, pictured with Kim Jong-un, runs a business in North Korea.
Supplied

His disappearance emerged days after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained during a visit to Beijing.

"We are aware that a Canadian citizen, Mr Michael Spavor, is presently missing in China," Canadian foreign ministry spokesman Guillaume Berube told AFP in an email.

"We have been unable to make contact since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities," he said.

Michael Spavor facilitated NBA star Dennis Rodman's 2013 visit to North Korea.
Michael Spavor facilitated NBA star Dennis Rodman's 2013 visit to North Korea.
AAP

"We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we continue to raise this with the Chinese government."

The arrest and disappearance of two Canadian nationals came more than a week after Ottawa infuriated Beijing by arresting Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, at Washington's request.

Meng was released on Can$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail by a court in Vancouver on Tuesday.

The disappearance of Spavor comes days after former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained on a trip to Beijing.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has been granted bail by a Canadian court.
AAP

Canadian officials said they were officially informed of Kovrig's detention via fax early on Monday.

"Canada is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr Kovrig and Canada has raised the case directly with Chinese officials," Freeland said.

Last week Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou - chief financial officer at Chinese telecom giant Huawei - at the request of the United States, which plans to charge her with fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran.

China responded in kind, detaining the former Canadian diplomat, who is now a China expert at the International Crisis Group security consultancy.

Michael Kovrig, who previously worked as a diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations, was taken into custody Monday night.
Michael Kovrig, who previously worked as a diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations, was taken into custody Monday night.
AP

Friends and experts say Kovrig may have become a "hostage" and "pawn" in a three-nation feud.

"In this case it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the Canadian government," Guy Saint-Jacques, the former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, told AFP.

Wanzhou was released in Canada on strict bail conditions on Tuesday.

Ottawa said Chinese officials had been given consular access to Meng on December 1, contradicting claims by Beijing.

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