Two Canadians incarcerated in China can definitely do with some Christmas cheer this month, more than two years after they were seized, seemingly in retaliation for the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, in response to a United States request for extradition on bank fraud charges.

The Chinese government has denied any connection between the two cases, even though its officials have hinted broadly that the two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — could well be released if Canada allowed Meng to return home. China stands guilty in the eyes of many of the heinous offense of hostage diplomacy.

On Dec. 10, 2018, the two Michaels were detained in China and charged with national security offenses. They were held in solitary confinement and subjected to intense high-pressure questioning. Meng, who owns several properties in Canada, was able to live in her $15 million Vancouver mansion and, though tagged electronically, was free to travel around the city.