Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, reportedly detained in China (Toronto Star)

China has detained two Canadians, an entrepreneur and a former diplomat, apparently in retaliation for Canada’s arrest and extradition of a top Chinese executive to the US.

On December 1, Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of communications technology giant Huawei, was detained as she was about to fly out of Vancouver’s airport. US authorities accuse her of breaking Iran sanctions through the provision of technology.

EA on Al Jazeera: Why Has US Arrested Top Chinese Executive Meng Wanzhou?

I spoke with Austria’s Radio FM4 on Thursday about the case and the significance for US-Chinese relations amid Donald Trump’s trade war with Beijing.

Listen to Discussion at 13:15

The Chinese see Meng’s detention as a political trade move in the US trade war. They see her as a hostage. So they now, to be blunt, have taken their own hostages: 1) to punish the Canadians for being involved in the American process and 2) because if you’re going to hit back at the US, the safer if provocative course is not to take an American but to grab two Canadians.