BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 15:  A Woman holding a mobile device with a Huawei logo is seen in this photo illustration on January 15, 2019.(Photo by Xander Heinl/Photothek via Getty Images)
Xander Heinl/Photothek/Getty Images
BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 15: A Woman holding a mobile device with a Huawei logo is seen in this photo illustration on January 15, 2019.(Photo by Xander Heinl/Photothek via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:48
Why the US is making an example out of China's Huawei
--FILE--A Chinese nurse attends newborn babies at a hospital in Xiangyang city, central China's Hubei province, 22 February 2018. China is reported to be planning to eliminate the law that says each family can only have two children. China, the most populous nation in the world, is said to be planning to remove all limits on the number of children a family can have, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a historic move to end to a policy that caused many controversial disputes and left the world's second-largest economy short of labor. The State Council, China's cabinet, has commissioned research on the repercussions of ending the country's policy which has lasts roughly four decades and intends to enact the change nationwide, said the people, who asked not to be named. The leadership wants to reduce the pace of aging in China's population and remove a source of international criticism, one of the people said.  (Imaginechina via AP Images)
Gong bo/Imaginechina/AP
--FILE--A Chinese nurse attends newborn babies at a hospital in Xiangyang city, central China's Hubei province, 22 February 2018. China is reported to be planning to eliminate the law that says each family can only have two children. China, the most populous nation in the world, is said to be planning to remove all limits on the number of children a family can have, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be a historic move to end to a policy that caused many controversial disputes and left the world's second-largest economy short of labor. The State Council, China's cabinet, has commissioned research on the repercussions of ending the country's policy which has lasts roughly four decades and intends to enact the change nationwide, said the people, who asked not to be named. The leadership wants to reduce the pace of aging in China's population and remove a source of international criticism, one of the people said. (Imaginechina via AP Images)
Now playing
02:18
China to allow parents to have up to three children
A woman walks past the headquarters of ByteDance, the parent company of video sharing app TikTok, in Beijing on September 16, 2020. - Silicon Valley tech giant Oracle is "very close" to sealing a deal to become the US partner to Chinese-owned video app TikTok to avert a ban in the United States, President Donald Trump said on September 15. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)
Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images
A woman walks past the headquarters of ByteDance, the parent company of video sharing app TikTok, in Beijing on September 16, 2020. - Silicon Valley tech giant Oracle is "very close" to sealing a deal to become the US partner to Chinese-owned video app TikTok to avert a ban in the United States, President Donald Trump said on September 15. (Photo by Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:40
ByteDance CEO is stepping down
Now playing
05:21
Inside the logistics system behind Alibaba
CCTV
Now playing
01:47
See rescue effort to save dozens of puppies from 'mystery box' online sale
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 25: People walk by the flagship store of clothing brand H&M at a shopping area on March 25, 2021 in Beijing, China. Many on Chinese social networking platforms called for boycotts of major Western brands, including H&M, after statements made by the companies in the past about Xinjiang cotton resurfaced online. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 25: People walk by the flagship store of clothing brand H&M at a shopping area on March 25, 2021 in Beijing, China. Many on Chinese social networking platforms called for boycotts of major Western brands, including H&M, after statements made by the companies in the past about Xinjiang cotton resurfaced online. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:25
Western brands slammed in China over Xinjiang stance
HONG KONG, CHINA - DECEMBER 12: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, founder and owner of Apple Daily newspaper is seen handcuffed and escorted by the guards leaving Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on December 12, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Lai is accused of collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)
Keith Tsuji/Getty Images
HONG KONG, CHINA - DECEMBER 12: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, founder and owner of Apple Daily newspaper is seen handcuffed and escorted by the guards leaving Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on December 12, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Lai is accused of collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:28
Hong Kong media tycoon's long battle for freedom
TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
OZAN KOSE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:16
Facebook: Chinese hackers targeted Uyghurs living in US
Biden US China tech war Wang pkg intl hnk vpx_00010025.png
Biden US China tech war Wang pkg intl hnk vpx_00010025.png
Now playing
02:37
US-China tech rivalry will likely continue under Biden presidency. Here's why
Jack Ma makes his first public appearance since late October in a new video published on January 20 by Tianmu News, a subsidiary of the Zhejiang government's official newspaper.
Tianmu News
Jack Ma makes his first public appearance since late October in a new video published on January 20 by Tianmu News, a subsidiary of the Zhejiang government's official newspaper.
Now playing
02:20
See Jack Ma's first public appearance in months
In this photo taken on September 5, 2020, people wearing face masks walk in a shopping mall in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province. - China is recasting Wuhan as a heroic coronavirus victim and trying to throw doubt on the pandemic's origin story as it aims to seize the narrative at a time of growing global distrust of Beijing. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY HEALTH-VIRUS-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-WUHAN,FOCUS BY DAN MARTIN (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo taken on September 5, 2020, people wearing face masks walk in a shopping mall in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province. - China is recasting Wuhan as a heroic coronavirus victim and trying to throw doubt on the pandemic's origin story as it aims to seize the narrative at a time of growing global distrust of Beijing. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY HEALTH-VIRUS-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-WUHAN,FOCUS BY DAN MARTIN (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:32
China's economy grows 2.3% in 2020
HONG KONG - 2019/04/06: In this photo illustration a Chinese online payment platform owned by Alibaba Group, Alipay, logo is seen on an Android mobile device with People's Republic of China flag in the background. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images/LightRocket/LightRocket via Getty Images
HONG KONG - 2019/04/06: In this photo illustration a Chinese online payment platform owned by Alibaba Group, Alipay, logo is seen on an Android mobile device with People's Republic of China flag in the background. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:40
How China's Ant Group built a $17 trillion payments machine
A pedestrians walks past HSBC signage in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on July 31, 2017.
HSBC said on July 31 pre-tax profit for the first half of 2017 had risen five percent to 10.2 billion USD compared with the same period last year, in what it called an "excellent" result following a turbulent 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ISAAC LAWRENCE        (Photo credit should read ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)
Issac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images
A pedestrians walks past HSBC signage in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on July 31, 2017. HSBC said on July 31 pre-tax profit for the first half of 2017 had risen five percent to 10.2 billion USD compared with the same period last year, in what it called an "excellent" result following a turbulent 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ISAAC LAWRENCE (Photo credit should read ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:31
HSBC may have to choose between China and the West
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 27: A Chinese soldier stands guard in front of Tiananmen Gate outside the Forbidden City on October 27, 2014 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 27: A Chinese soldier stands guard in front of Tiananmen Gate outside the Forbidden City on October 27, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:56
China censors a lot, from Winnie the Pooh to the NBA
SHANGHAI, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 17: Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference at West Bund on September 17, 2018 in Shanghai, China. The 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference is held on September 17-19 in Shanghai. (Photo by Zhao Yun/VCG via Getty Images)
Zhao Yun/VCG via Getty Images
SHANGHAI, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 17: Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference at West Bund on September 17, 2018 in Shanghai, China. The 2018 World Artificial Intelligence Conference is held on September 17-19 in Shanghai. (Photo by Zhao Yun/VCG via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:02
How Jack Ma changed China
Yum China
Now playing
01:43
Why American fast food chains will do anything to win in China
Beijing CNN —  

The case against the two Canadians detained in the wake of the controversial arrest of a Huawei executive was revealed by China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission on Monday.

In a statement, former diplomat Michael Kovrig was accused of spying by the Chinese government, including gathering and stealing “sensitive information and other intelligence” since 2017.

Businessman Michael Spavor is accused of providing intelligence to Kovrig, and is described as an “important contact” for the former diplomat.

“Kovrig’s alleged behavior of gathering and stealing secrets and other intelligence for a foreign power has seriously violated Chinese laws,” the statement said.

In a statement Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “obviously very concerned with this position that China has taken.”

“We have been engaging and standing up for the two Canadians who have been arbitrarily detained in China. We are a country of the rule of law. We will ensure that the rule of law is fully respected. It is unfortunate that China continues to move forward on these arbitrary detentions,” he added.

Canada, China tensions rise

Both Kovrig and Spavor were detained by Chinese authorities in December shortly after Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada for possible extradition to the US.

Huawei is China’s largest and most successful technology company, a symbol of the country’s economic rise, which has made Meng’s arrest especially significant to Beijing.

Monday’s announcement of the case against the Canadians came just two days before Meng is due to face an extradition hearing in Canadian court. The Huawei executive could be sent to the US to face charges over breaking Iran sanctions.

Her case is one of several ways the United States is trying to put pressure on Huawei. The US government claims Huawei’s technology poses a national security threat.

China has repeatedly denounced the arrest of Meng as a political decision, but Canada has said it’s just following the letter of its extradition agreement with the United States. The series of arrests have caused a major diplomatic crisis between China and Canada.

Beijing authorities had already announced Kovrig and Spavor would be charged with “endanger(ing) China’s national security.”

The comparison of Meng’s situation and that of the two Canadians is stark. While Kovrig and Spavor have been held in a Chinese jail and allowed consular access, the Huawei executive is under house arrest in her home in Vancouver.

Meng’s legal team announced this week they would be filing a lawsuit against Canadian authorities for illegally detaining her.

In their statement Monday, Chinese authorities said the two Canadians would have all their rights guaranteed and said the next judicial step would be launched at an appropriate time.

In January, more than a hundred former diplomats, academics and activists wrote an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping calling for the immediate release of two Canadians.

’Vague and unsubstantiated allegations’

Both Canadians have a long history of working in China. Former diplomat Kovrig is northeast Asia senior adviser for the nonprofit organization, the International Crisis Group (ICG).

In response to Monday’s revelations, ICG spokesman Hugh Pope told CNN that Kovrig’s “work for Crisis Group has been entirely transparent and in the open, as all who follow his work can attest.”

“Vague and unsubstantiated accusations against him are unwarranted and unfair,” Pope said.

Spavor is the founder of Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company that helps facilitate trips to North Korea. He has assisted former NBA player Dennis Rodman in travel to Pyongyang to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The tense situation between Canada and China escalated further in January, when a Chinese court sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death on drug trafficking charges, after he was previously given a custodial sentence.

In the wake of that ruling, Ottawa issued new travel guidance for its citizens in China that warned of “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

China issued its own travel warning for Canada in response, citing the “arbitrary detention” of a Chinese citizen for a third country as a reason for the notice.