A Chinese court will try a Canadian citizen on drugs charges on Saturday, a government-run news portal said, in a case that could further test already difficult relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

The two countries have sparred over the fate of two Canadian citizens detained in China on suspicion of endangering state security and over the arrest of a high-ranking Chinese executive by Canada at the request of the United States.

The high court in the northeastern province of Liaoning said on Wednesday a man it identified as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg would be tried on drug smuggling charges in Dalian city on Saturday.

A Dalian government news portal reported late on Wednesday Schellenberg was a Canadian and that this was an appeal hearing after he was found by an earlier ruling to have smuggled “an enormous amount of drugs” into China.

There was no immediate response from the Canadian government.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she did not have a grasp on the situation, but added that China had repeatedly made its “solemn” stance clear to Canada.

Drug offences are routinely punished severely in China.

US, Canada hold talks amid tension with China over Huawei case (1:36)

China executed a Briton caught smuggling heroin in 2009, prompting a British outcry over what it said was the lack of any mental health assessment.

Canada has pressed for the release of the two Canadians detained in China earlier this month.

The two were detained after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on December 1.

Neither country has drawn a direct connection between the cases.

China demanded the release of Meng, who is fighting extradition to the US. She was granted bail on December 11.

If extradited to the US, Meng faces fraud charges that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years jail for each charge. The US is engaged in a trade war with China.

Al Jazeera and news agencies


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