The family of a Canadian man who has been sentenced to death in China say their “worst fears” have been realised.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was given a 15-year jail term in November but, on Monday, a court said the sentence for drug smuggling was too lenient.
The ruling is likely to worsen a diplomatic row between the countries.
“It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation,” his aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, told the BBC via email.
“It is our worst case fear confirmed,” she added. “It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the ruling.
“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty,” he said in a statement.
Schellenberg has 10 days to launch an appeal and his lawyer told Reuters news agency that he would likely do so.
His case was unexpectedly reviewed after Canada arrested a top official at the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on a request from the US.
The detention of Meng Wanzhou, 46, last month angered China and soured its relations with both Canada and the US.
The Canadian, who is believed to be 36, was arrested in 2014 and accused of planning to smuggle almost 500lb (227kg) of methamphetamine from China to Australia.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November but, following an appeal, a high court in the north-eastern city of Dalian on Monday sentenced him to death.