A Canadian citizen has been sentenced to death after being charged with manufacturing ketamine, as tensions run high between the countries, reports Global News.
Over 120 kilograms of ketamine were confiscated by police at Xu Weihong's home and one other location, said reports. The drug is a strong painkiller and is currently a popular club drug in China and other places.
Xu's penalty was announced by the Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court on Thursday, which added that Wen Guanxiong—an alleged accomplice of Weihong’s—has received a life penalty.
Though there were no details given in the court statement, local Chinese media noted that it was nearly four years ago, in October 2016, that Xu and Wen started making ketamine after collecting tools and ingredients. They then stored the drug in Guangzhou's Haizhu district at Xu's home.
China's highest court has to review all death sentences.
Relations between Canada and China have weakened since Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver in 2018. Beijing was not happy with the arrest and looked at the move as a political decision made to prevent China from becoming a bigger global technology power.
In what is widely seen as a retaliation, China detained Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor and Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and accused the two of national security crimes. A Canadian drug smuggler was also given a death sentence in the country following a sudden retrial, and restrictions were imposed on Canadian exports going to China.
Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said Xu’s sentencing is not linked to the current relations between the two countries.
"I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities handle the relevant case independently in strict accordance with Chinese law and legal procedures," said Wang on Thursday during a daily briefing. "This case should not inflict any impact on China-Canada relations."
"Death sentences for drug-related crimes that are extremely dangerous will help deter and prevent such crimes," Wang said. "China’s judicial authorities handle cases involving criminals of different nationalities in accordance with law."