China expels Canadian diplomat amid deteriorating bilateral ties

BEIJING (Reuters) – China expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai on Tuesday after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave the country, heightening already strained bilateral relations amid concerns over Chinese influence in Canada .
Canada expelled Chinese diplomat on Monday Zhao Wei after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.
“We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Monday.
In response to Canada’s “unreasonable actions”, China told Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Canadian consulate in Shanghai, to leave China by May 13, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement.
China reserves the right to respond further, the Foreign Ministry added.
Diplomatic tensions have been high since the detention of the leader of Huawei Technologies Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and the subsequent arrest by Beijing of two Canadians accused of espionage. All three were released in 2021.
Last year, Beijing lifted a three-year ban on imports of canola, Canada’s biggest crop, from trading companies Richardson International and Viterra. The restrictions followed Meng’s arrest, but China raised concerns about the parasites. China is also a major importer of Canadian potash and wheat.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) spy agency compiled a report in 2021 on Chinese influence in Canada that included information on potential threats against Conservative MP Michael Chong and his family.
Details of the CSIS report came to light on May 1, when Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported that China had sought information about Chong and his family in China with the likely aim of “making an example” of him and dissuade others from taking on the anti-Chinese government. position.
“It shouldn’t have taken the government two years to make this decision,” Chong told reporters after the announcement.
China has said it has never interfered in Canada’s internal affairs and has no interest in doing so. The Chinese Consulate General in Toronto said the report on Chong had “no factual basis and was purely baseless”.
The Globe, citing an unnamed national security source, said Zhao was involved in gathering information about Chong, who in 2021 sponsored a successful motion declaring China’s treatment of the genocide of its Uyghur Muslim minority.
Chong said he was “deeply disappointed” to find out about the potential threat to his family in Hong Kong from a newspaper, and criticized Trudeaugovernment for its inaction. He has repeatedly called for Zhao’s expulsion since the Globe report.
Trudeau said he discovered the newspaper’s intelligence report and blamed the spy agency on Wednesday for not passing it to him at the time.
The agency has now been ordered to immediately pass information on the threats to parliamentarians and their families.
Canadian media have published several reports, citing unnamed intelligence sources, alleging Chinese government-led schemes to interfere in Canada’s last two elections. Beijing has denied these allegations.
Trudeau has previously said China tried to interfere in the 2019 and 2021 votes, but the efforts did not change the outcome. He appointed an independent special investigator to investigate the allegations.


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