01/18/2019 12:35 EST | Updated 01/18/2019 12:42 EST

John McCallum, Canada's Ambassador To China, Says Travel To China Still Safe For Most Canadians

John McCallum credited the Trudeau government's efforts to get allies to rally in support of Canada's position.

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, waits to brief members of the Foreign Affairs committee regarding China in Ottawa on Jan. 18, 2019.

OTTAWA — Canada's ambassador to Beijing says he believes it is safe for most Canadians to travel to China, despite the current rocky relations between China and Canada.

But John McCallum says anyone who has had a past run-in with Chinese authorities may want to think twice about visiting the country.

Watch: John McCallum says he is focused on securing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor's release. Story continues below.

McCallum made the comments as he arrived today to field questions from an all-party parliamentary committee about the situation involving three Canadians in China.

That meeting is being held in private after Liberal MPs on the committee raised concerns about the sensitive nature of what McCallum might have to say.

And McCallum told reporters there's good reason to talk behind closed doors, saying he expects to tell the committee some things that the families of detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig might not want aired publicly.

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On Wednesday, McCallum revealed that Spavor and Kovrig were each being interrogated by authorities for up to four hours a day.

He also credited the Trudeau government's efforts to get allies to rally in support of Canada's position, but said Canada needs to engage senior Chinese leaders and persuade them that what they are doing is not good for China's image in the world.

China detained Kovrig and Spavor last month and recently imposed a death sentence on Robert Schellenberg of British Columbia for drug smuggling after Canada arrested a top executive from Chinese tech firm Huawei, at the request of U-S authorities.