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Champagne warns tough talk on China could hurt efforts to free Kovrig, Spavor

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OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is warning that tough talk about China could hurt efforts to gain the release of two arbitrarily detained Canadians.

Testifying before the House of Commons Canada-China relations committee, Champagne is urging MPs not to give in to the temptation to tough talk that won't help Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

The two men have been imprisoned in China for almost two years in retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request from the United States.

Champagne's plea comes a week after the House of Commons passed a Conservative motion calling on the government to decide by Dec. 18 whether to allow Huawei to be involved in development of Canada's 5G network.

The motion, passed with the support of all opposition parties over the objections of the government, also calls on the government to unveil within 30 days a robust plan to deal with growing intimidation by China of Canadians within Canada's borders.

The motion is not binding and Champagne says government action on both fronts will be guided by national security requirements, not by arbitrary deadlines.

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