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'Two Michaels' and Meng Wanzhou book a gripping ride through an international saga

A new book chronicles the interwoven tales of a Chinese executive arrested in Vancouver and two Canadian men detained in China.
Meng Wanzhou entering B.C. Supreme Court Oct. 1, 2019. Photo Albert Van Santvoort / Business in Vancouver

A Vancouver courtroom is an innocuous place for a battle to start between the United States and China but with Canada’s southern neighbour’s request for the extradition of a high-profile electronics executive in 2018, it was game on.

When Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s plane arrived in Vancouver in December 2018 and she was arrested, Beijing was incensed. 

Shortly after, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China. 

Nothing to do with Meng, Beijing said.

And so, a saga unfolded.  Domestic and international media flooded Vancouver’s law courts. The case went viral.

Now, all the strings in the case have been pulled together.

The Two Michaels: Innocent Canadian Captives and High Stakes Espionage in the US-China Cyber War by Mike Blanchfield and Fen Osler Hampson details Meng’s arrest in Canada and her U.S. extradition request hearings. It’s coupled with Canada’s "Two Michaels" being detained in China and makes for gripping news reading. 

The authors have put the whole situation together: the U.S.-China-Canada relations; the battles for cyber supremacy and the bickering about what constitutes the rule of law depending on what country you’re in; genocide and human rights; the Michaels’ backgrounds; the future of high-tech communications and the espionage. 

A central tenet of the book is the authors’ argument that Ottawa’s insistence that it had to adhere to its extradition treaty with the U.S. as a matter of accordance with international law, never mind prestige. 

The authors argue Ottawa could have put a stop to the extradition proceedings at any time through the use of ministerial prerogative.

Meng could have gone home and the Michaels could have returned to Canada.

Sure, that’s eventually what happened – but only after a lot of sabre-rattling and shouting.

The 281-page book’s conclusion appears on page 123: “The hearings served as a new front in the epic struggle between China and the United States for economic and political supremacy, one with serious repercussions not only for Meng and the Two Michaels, but for the futures of the internet and everyone who uses it.”

The Two Michaels chronicles an international saga about political relations and cyber security