China confirms arrest of second Canadian in escalating spat

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"We have raised this case directly with the Chinese authorities".

Meng remains in Vancouver while awaiting whether or not she will be extradited to the face bank fraud charges related to her company's involvement with a firm operating in Iran.

China is the second-biggest buyer of softwood lumber products and companies have increasingly looked to the Asian market as a destination for shipments amid Canada's ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the U.S.

China has threatened unspecified consequences if she is not released.

Canada has not officially raised the issue with the US administration, said the source, but Foreign Affairs Minster Chrystia Freeland will get the opportunity when she travels to Washington on Friday for a pre-arranged meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

"Our extradition partners should not seek to politicise the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law", she said when asked about Trump's comments. There is no question that we are caught in a hard situation between two economic superpowers that are waging both a trade war and a race to dominate the next generation of technology.

China's foreign ministry said ICG was not registered in China and its employees would be "in violation" of the law if they engage in activities in the country.

Pompeo said the detention of nationals overseas was something that "weighs on those of us who serve to try to make sure that our citizens do have the opportunity to return home to their families".

Many in the USA and Canada suspect it means "taken hostage until charges are dropped against Meng Wanzhou".

Spokesman Adam Austen said Canadian officials continue to be in direct contact with Chinese authorities, but due to Privacy Act provision, Foreign Affairs can't divulge further information about Kovrig and Spavor's cases.

Some China analysts were in little doubt about the reason for the detentions. Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's former ambassador to China, told broadcaster CBC that "In China, there are no coincidences...."

"That message has to be sent loudly and clearly by this government to the government of China".

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His friendship with Kim Jong-un included jet-skiing together and savoring cocktails on one of the North Korean dictator's yachts.

His last social media posts on Monday said he was en route to Seoul for a consulting job and meetings with friends, but he never arrived.

Spavor, who organizes business, culture and tourism trips to North Korea, is best known for organizing NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman's visit to Pyongyang.

Originally from Calgary, Spavor's Facebook page says he studied International relations at University of Calgary and North Korean Studies/International Trade at Kangwon National University in South Korea. He organized Rodman's visits in 2013 and 2014. He said the cases are being handled separately by local bureaus of the national intelligence agency in Beijing, where Kovrig was picked up, and the northeastern city of Dandong, where Spavor lived.

He was arrested on 10 December.

It was reported widely on Friday that Canadian consular staff in China had been granted access to Kovrig in detention.

"We have in general informed our personnel in Beijing and in our consulates to take extra precautions", an official said.

Canadian officials say a wide range of topics was planned for their talks, including Russia-Ukraine tensions and issues related to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but the ongoing tensions with China will definitely be on the table. She will have to stay in Vancouver and its suburbs and confine herself to one of her two Vancouver homes from 11pm to 6am.

She was released on bail of US$7.5 million by a court in Vancouver on Tuesday pending a United States extradition hearing.

Meng was detained on December 1 and has been accused of misleading financial institutions about her multinational's projects with Iranian telecommunications companies in violation of worldwide sanctions.

Meng is chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, a company created by her father.

Lawyers for Ms Meng told the court that Huawei had already separated itself from Skycom.