Canada and China are pressing pause on plans to mark the end of the joint year of tourism, meaning federal Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly is no longer heading to Beijing next week amidst percolating diplomatic tensions.
The Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018 was developed as a partnership to promote travel between the two countries, and Joly had planned to head to Beijing for the closing ceremony, which had been set for Dec. 17 to 20.
On Thursday the minister still had plans to attend, but on Friday, her spokesperson said Canada and China mutually agreed to postpone the ceremony.
“Both governments agreed this would allow us to better achieve our shared objectives,” said Jeremy Ghio.
“We look forward to meeting again to continue building people-to people ties and strengthening the tourism relationship between Canada and China — a relationship that creates good jobs for middle class families and opportunities for people in both countries.”
The government faces pressure as two Canadians remain detained in China this week.
Canada Goose delays store opening
Entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of “endangering national security,” according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
Their detentions came after Canadian officials detained the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, on an extradition request from the U.S. She has been released on $10 million bail.
Canada has argued that the request to detain Meng was made at the officials’ level and was not politically motivated.
When asked if the detention of the two Canadian men was intended as retaliation, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said they were being handled according to Chinese law.
In other news, the popular outdoor apparel maker Canada Goose is delaying the opening of its flagship store in Beijing.
The store was supposed to open Saturday, but in a message posted to Weibo, China’s social media platform, the luxury coat maker said the postponement is for construction reasons.
The outerwear maker had quickly become a style icon in China since launching last year to much fanfare, but its shares fell this week after becoming the target of Chinese consumers upset by the Meng’s arrest.
Weibo users have proposed boycotting the company’s products as payback for her detention in Canada.
The movement gained steam after Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times reported on the boycott proposal.