Chinese scientist Xiangguo Qiu transferred deadly pathogens from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) Dr. Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were dismissed from the NML in 2019 and journalists are now unable to locate them. Those bombshell revelations are finally getting traction, but they may have overshadowed a story with key lessons about China’s Communist dictatorship and its relations with Canada.

In December 2018, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. American authorities charged that Meng violated sanctions on doing business with Iran and sought her extradition. Days later, China arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and their trial in March 2021 got little attention in the United States. Clive Ansley, who practiced law in China for 14 years, provides background on “trials” in China and the co-authors, David Kilgour and Peter Lamont, are experienced in Chinese law and diplomacy.

Michael Spavor’s “secret two-hour trial” occurred suddenly and Canadian diplomats were not allowed to enter the court, the same for proceedings with Michael Kovrig. The Canadians are charged with stealing state secrets but as the authors explain, in China any information disclosed by any criminal investigation is treated as a state secret. Chinese judges are civil servants and a Chinese court “is simply a low level administrative organ of the CCP,” the Chinese Communist Party.

In China’s Communist dictatorship there is no rule of law—only rule by the CCP. In China there is no presumption of innocence and no right to a swift public trial, with the verdict subject to appeal.

China announced no verdict for “the two Michaels,” as Kovrig and Spavor have become known. China has now held them for two years and seven months, more than twice as long as Iran held 52 American hostages in 1979. The Canadians’ imprisonment raises questions of torture and according to Ansley, Kilgour, and Lamont, those familiar with China’s prison conditions say “incarceration in a Chinese prison is torture in and of itself.”

According to Canada’s National Post, Kovrig and Spavor are held in cells roughly three-by-three meters where “there is no furniture and the thin mattress must be rolled up during the day.” Prisoners are not allowed outside their cells and there are no exercise yards or dining hall. Meals of boiled rice and vegetables are pushed under the doors in “doggy bowls.” In some accounts, prisoners must spend the whole day sitting or squatting on the floor, which causes joint and muscle deterioration.

While Kovrig and Spavor suffered in such conditions, Dr. Qiu was operating the special pathogens program at Canada’s highly sensitive National Microbiology Lab. Her transfer of deadly viruses to China drew a response that many Canadians found puzzling.

“Chinese researcher escorted from infectious disease lab amid RCMP investigation,” read the headline of a July 14, 2019 CBC report. As the sub-head explained, it was only a possible “policy breach,” with no risk to the Canadian public. Qui and her husband were “on leave for an unknown period of time,” and no word of any arrest or criminal charges.

Nearly two years after they were “escorted” off the premises, as the CBS reported on Feb. 6, 2021, the Chinese scientists were “let go” from the NML and “no longer employed by the Public Health Agency of Canada.” PHAC official Eric Morrissette declined to disclose further information “for reasons of confidentiality,” and claimed the “administrative investigation is not related to the shipment of virus samples to China.” Both the PHAC and RCMP denied any connection between the virus shipments and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qui and Cheng were “off work with pay, living in Winnipeg,” according to the CBC report, but that could not be verified. The couple has not been seen in public since February 2020, and they have been absent from their Canadian properties, reportedly worth nearly $2 million. According to former co-workers, Dr. Qiu has bragged about owning a mansion in China. If the RCMP has any clue where Qiu and Cheng might be, they aren’t saying, and on all fronts, Canadian officials could be withholding crucial documents.

As the National Post reported on June 23, Qiu “collaborated with Chinese government scientists on inventions registered in Beijing, but closely related to her federal job” in Canada. The patents, registered in 2017 and 2019, were for “innovations related to the Ebola and Marburg viruses.”

In Canada, Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Cheng engaged in highly questionable activities without being charged and both remain under investigation by the RCMP. Over in China, by contrast, the Chinese Communist Party continues to hold Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in prison, with no revelation of any facts in their case and no announcement of the verdict in their “trial.” These revelations, though shocking to many Canadians, should come as no surprise.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was an admirer of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union and established diplomatic relations with China in 1970, when mass murderer Mao Zedong was still in power. In 2013, future Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proclaimed, “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.”

Chinese scientist Xiangguo Qiu supplied the Wuhan Institute of Virology with deadly pathogens and collaborated with China on inventions registered in Beijing. China kidnapped two Canadians, and continues to hold them after a secret trial. This is what happens when a Western democratic nation becomes too cozy with China’s Communist dictatorship. On Canada Day, and all through the year, Canadians have plenty to ponder.