Release Canadians: Scholars, diplomats to China

In an open letter, a group of former diplomats and academics have urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to release two Canadians who have been detained on allegations of espionage. The letter said former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, who were last month arrested in China for activities that "endanger China's security", worked to improve understanding of China and to promote better relations with the world.

"Kovrig and Spavor's detentions send a message that this kind of constructive work is unwelcome and even risky in China," according to the letter, which had 143 signatories from 19 countries. Six former Canadian ambassadors to China: Fred Bild, Joseph Caron, Earl Drake, David Mulroney, Guy Saint-Jacques and Robert Wright as well as former US ambassadors Gary Locke and Winston Lord and Hong Kong's last British governor Chris Patten are among those who have signed the letter.

"We who share Kovrig and Spavor's enthusiasm... must now be more cautious about traveling and working in China and engaging our Chinese counterparts," the letter said. It added: "That will lead to less dialogue and greater distrust, and undermine efforts to manage disagreements and identify common ground.Both China and the rest of the world will be worse off as a result."

Recently, even as China was suffering from slowdown of its economy amid the trade war with the United states, a senior of the ruling Communist Party of China  said CPC should learn from the collapse of the former Soviet Union and warned against repeating mistakes that led to its demise.