Jan 15, 2019

China sentences Canadian man to death in apparent hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

China today significantly escalated the stakes in its brinkmanship with the U.S., sentencing a Canadian man to death in a case rooted in an unrelated extradition request from the United States. The move is another sign of a global shift to tough-guy politics.

The sentence against Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian, appears to be retribution for Canada's jailing of a senior Chinese executive on a U.S. warrant for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran. Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of the company's founder, is out on bail awaiting possible extradition to the U.S.

The big picture: Beijing appears to be furious about the case. But, as we reported last week, Schellenberg is also a pawn in a larger game — the new age of hostage diplomacy, in which leading countries are now imprisoning each other's nationals as part of their disputes, trade or otherwise.

  • Robert Kagan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, says this is a prime example of a return to the more brute-force state of global dispute settlement prior to World War II, when "trade wars became real wars."
  • In his latest book, "The Jungle Grows Back," Kagan argues that nations are resorting to strongman-wins-out global politics. "I would consider this new round of hostage-taking a sign of such escalation," he tells Axios.
"So, yes, it's another sign of the jungle growing back — international relations becoming more conflictual as old rules of the order break down."
— Robert Kagan

Go deeper: Review of The Jungle Grows Back

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

India extended its nationwide lockdown — one of the longest-running in the world — on Saturday, as deaths and infections rise, per Johns Hopkins. The country also moved to allow restaurants, hotels and churches outside of hotspots to begin reopening.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide and over 2.5 million have recovered from the virus. Over 367,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.7 million.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening and continued into Saturday.

The big picture: Police responded over the weekend in force, in cities ranging from Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., Denver and Louisville. Large crowds gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday for the fourth day in a row.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

Live updates: SpaceX launches NASA astronauts to space station

Photo: NASA TV

SpaceX just launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on an historic ride to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The launch brings crewed launches back to the U.S. for the first time in nine years, since the end of the space shuttle program.

Follow along below for live updates...