In this image taken from a video footage run by China's CCTV, Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg attends his retrial at the Dalian Intermediate People's Court in Dalian, northeastern China's Liaoning province on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.
A Canadian citizen appealing a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking had his punishment changed to the death sentence on Monday, a decision that has exacerbated a diplomatic row between Beijing and Ottawa. In December, a higher court ordered a retrial as prosecutors claimed they had emerging evidence pointing to Schellenberg's role as a more central player, giving the defence little more than two weeks to prepare.
Schellenberg was first tried in March 2016 and was convicted of being an accessory to drug smuggling in November 2018.
The incident has aggravated already sour diplomatic relations between the two countries, following the arrest of a Chinese executive in Canada and China's subsequent detention of two Canadians.
'Whatever Canada does, it is the rule of law, but whatever China does is not.
"We believe it is inhumane and inappropriate, and wherever the death penalty is considered with regard to a Canadian we speak out against it", Freeland said in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
Rights groups condemned the Schellenberg sentence while Guy St-Jacques, who was Canada's ambassador in Beijing when Kovrig worked there, expressed concern at how quickly the courts had acted. She also disputed arguments from critics that the Chinese court had political motivation in imposing a severe sentence against Mr. Schellenberg.
Trudeau said last week that Chinese officials were not respecting the diplomatic immunity of Michael Kovrig.
Schellenberg has denied all charges against him and says he has been framed.
Schellenberg has 10 days to launch an appeal and his lawyer told Reuters news agency that he would likely do so. The man was sentenced on Monday for smuggling more than 200 kilograms of drugs to death. Upon receiving a sentence of 15 years in prison, he appealed the verdict. Two Chinese men were also involved in the case: one was sentenced to life in jail, while the other was given a suspended death sentence.
It warned that Canadian citizens could face "arbitrary enforcement of local laws" in China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's government is sparing no expense to its worldwide reputation in its determination to force Canada to back down over the case of a Chinese telecommunications executive it detained last month.
"This is a case about a man named King (Xu Qing), he is an worldwide drug smuggler and a liar", Schellenberg told the court, accusing Xu of setting him up.
China severely punishes those caught smuggling or trafficking drugs, including foreigners.
The mention of a "third nation" appeared to refer to the United States, which has requested the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who has been held in Canada since December 1 over allegations that her company misled banks to circumvent sanctions targeting Iran.
Though Meng was released on bail a few weeks ago, she remains on house-arrest in British Columbia while the United States pursues her extradition, as Chinese authorities have responded furiously to her detainment and have threatened consequences.
Beijing considers the number of people executed in China to be a state secret.