TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was detained in Beijing earlier this week, is a fluent Mandarin speaker with a great love of China who has traveled to some of the most sensitive parts of the Asian country, people who have worked with him said.
Kovrig is one of two Canadians being investigated on suspicion of harming China’s security. They were picked up shortly after Canada arrested a senior Chinese executive at the request of the United States.
Embassy - Beijing - Kovrig - Ambassador - Guy
Stationed at the Canadian embassy in Beijing from 2014 to 2016, Kovrig served under former ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques, who described him as an excellent political officer.
Kovrig has visited the western Xinjiang region, site of mass detentions and strict surveillance of the ethnic Uighur minority and other Muslim groups, and dealt with other sensitive issues, said Saint-Jacques.
Dissidents - Attention - Security - Establishment - Canadian
“When you meet with dissidents, you get the attention of the Chinese security establishment,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
At the end of his two-year posting, Kovrig told the envoy he wanted to stay on because “he loves China so much.” He joined the Hong Kong-based International Crisis Group, a think tank focused on conflict resolution.
China - Language - Culture - Karim - Lebhour
“He really is passionate about China, its language and its culture,” said Karim Lebhour, head of ICG’s North American communications in Washington, who said he had met Kovrig a few months ago. “He struck me as very professional, very easy to engage with and a brilliant foreign policy mind.”
One area Kovrig focused on was North Korea, where Michael Spavor – the...
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