Radio interview on death sentence for Canadian in China

China is upping the ante in its tit-for-tat with Canada over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Cam MacMurchy

I don’t do many “hits” on radio stations these days. I love radio more than anything else I’ve ever done in my career, but it’s been pushed into the background because I need to make a living wage, and, well…. yeah you get the idea.

Even after 15 years out of the business, it’s still nice to hear from my alma mater, News1130 in Vancouver, whenever I accidentally find myself near something newsworthy. Today, that’s China.

The Chinese government is incensed that Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Chinese telecom behemoth Huawei and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, in Vancouver in December 2018. Canada made the arrest at the request of the United States, which claims to have evidence that Meng was a key player in business deals between Huawei and Iran. Iran, you may recall, has been subject to US sanctions forever, so the accusations are serious.

China, which doesn’t quite understand how impartial legal systems work, sees the arrest as an attack on the nation and Meng’s human rights. To prove it’s not to be messed with, China has been retaliating by nabbing a few people of its own: Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman. There could be others.

Today, they went a step further by sentencing a Canadian man named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for an alleged drug-related crime he was convicted for in 2014. At the time, he was found guilty of smuggling and sent to prison for life. But miraculously, after Meng was arrested, China re-opened the case with “new evidence” that suddenly appeared, enough to give him a much harsher sentence: death.

That has left Canadians in China feeling particularly vulnerable, especially those who might be missing a random document or certification to work, study, or run a business. Unless everything is in perfect order, China could decide at any moment to begin enforcing the law. “The law”, by the way, is whatever the Communist Party says it is.

I was interviewed about what it’s like on the ground in China these days, particularly for Canadians. It’s an all-news radio station based in Vancouver, with 30-minute newscasts broadcast live, around the clock. Reporters produce four versions of any one story to ensure people don’t hear the same content repeatedly if they tune in for an hour or two.

I’ve embedded all four interview clips below, which were run on the half hour beginning at 5:00 am. They’re short, but should provide a taste of what’s happening on the ground in the glorious People’s Republic.

I might not be in radio anymore, but doing these brings me right back to my early 20s as a broke, hardscrabble kid learning the ropes out on the beat. I sure miss it.

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