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China Rising, Episode 11: An emotional homecoming for the Michaels. What now for Canada-China relations?


For nearly three years, Vina Nadjibulla waited for the phone to ring.

Nadjibulla’s husband, Michael Kovrig, was arrested in China, along with another Canadian, Michael Spavor, in December 2018.

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Their detention was widely seen as political retribution for the arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

On Sept. 5, Nadjibulla organized an event in Ottawa. Hundreds marched through the nation’s capital, marking exactly 1,000 days since the two Michaels were arrested and calling for their release.

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“That is what I focus on every day when I start the day and wonder what I can do today to bring that closer to reality,” she said before the event. “That is the mission. The goal is to get him on a plane to Toronto.”

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Then, a couple of weeks after that march, Nadjibulla’s phone finally rang.

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“It’s been 1,020 days of working for this moment,” she said. “The moment is here.”

On Episode 11 of China Rising, we’ll hear directly from Nadjibulla’s husband, Kovrig, about what’s it like to be back home in Canada after nearly three years in a Chinese prison.

On Sept. 24, Huawei executive Meng suddenly struck a deal with U.S. authorities and was released from custody and allowed to return to China. Just hours later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Kovrig and Spavor were also freed and on their way home to Canada.

That frantic climax sent shockwaves around the world.

“It came out of nowhere,” said Jacco Zwetsloot, a friend of Spavor’s in Seoul, South Korea. “I really didn’t expect in my wildest dreams that it would happen.”

News of Kovrig and Spavor’s release took even veteran Chinese political analysts by surprise.


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