Later that month, the High People's Court of Liaoning Province ordered a retrial regarding the charges against another Canadian national, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug smuggling in November by a lower court, after prosecutors called for him to receive a harsher punishment, citing "new evidence" showing that he was part of an worldwide drug trafficking syndicate.
"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply a death penalty, " Trudeau said. "They also discussed China's application of the death penalty to a Canadian citizen", said his office.
Freeland also trumpeted a long list of allies that the country has courted in its efforts to free two other Canadians imprisoned last month after Canada arrested a Chinese executive at the request of the United States.
"[Freeland and Pompeo] noted their continued commitment to Canada's conduct of a fair, unbiased, and transparent legal proceeding and USA extradition request with respect to Ms Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei", Palladino said.
The development comes after China detained two Canadians on national security grounds in December in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Canada, suggested in a newspaper article last week that the arrest of Kovrig and Spavor was "China's self-defence", but did not give details.
A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a Canadian man to be executed for drug smuggling, prompting Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accuse China of using the death penalty arbitrarily.
In response to Canada's travel advisory, warning its citizens about "the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws" in China, Hua said Canadian citizens should be reminded never to engage in serious crimes such as drug smuggling in China.
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The dispute between China and Canada has rattled the foreign diplomatic community in Beijing, particularly United States allies, which see their citizens could be put in a similar position in the future.
But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denied Beijing had politicised Schellenberg's case, calling on Canada to "respect China's judicial sovereignty... and stop making such irresponsible remarks".
Then authorities revisited the little-known case of Schellenberg, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November for drug offences.
Freeland said she had spoken to Schellenberg's father on Monday, adding it had been "a very emotional conversation for him". The Chinese media began republicizing Schellenberg's case after Meng's detention.
Schellenberg's defense lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.
Hua dismissed such concerns, saying the 222 kilograms (489 pounds) of methamphetamine that Schellenberg was accused of smuggling merited the harsh penalty.
"Chinese law stipulates that during an appeal, only if new evidence is discovered and retried can there be an increase in the severity of a sentence", Zhang said.
China's justice system has been routinely condemned for its handling of capital punishment, with a 2008 Washington Post investigation finding it was notable for its "secrecy, lack of due process and uneven application of the law".