Dear President Xi Jinping,
We, the undersigned scholars, former diplomats and others with an interest in understanding China and building bridges, are deeply concerned about the recent detentions of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. We request that you immediately release Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor so that they may be reunited with their families.
Many of us know Michael Kovrig through his work as a diplomat in Beijing and as the senior expert for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group, an organization whose mission is to “build a more peaceful world.” In both roles, Mr. Kovrig regularly and openly met with Chinese officials, researchers and scholars to better understand China’s positions on a range of important international issues. Michael Spavor has devoted his time to the task of building relationships between North Korea and China, Canada, the United States and elsewhere.
These meetings and exchanges are the foundation of serious research and diplomacy around the world, including for Chinese scholars and diplomats. However, Mr. Kovrig’s and Mr. Spavor’s detentions send a message that this kind of constructive work is unwelcome and even risky in China. We who share Mr. Kovrig’s and Mr. Spavor’s enthusiasm for building genuine, productive and lasting relationships must now be more cautious about travelling and working in China and engaging our Chinese counterparts. That will lead to less dialogue and greater distrust, and undermine efforts to manage disagreements and identify common ground. Both China and the rest of the world will be worse off as a result.
We therefore respectfully ask you to free these two Canadian citizens.
Read the full list of signatories here