China expels Canadian diplomat in retaliation

By Chloe Kim and Kelly Ng, BBC News

AFP via Getty Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly attends a press conference with the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (unseen),AFP via Getty

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly declares Chinese diplomat “persona non grata”

China expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai in retaliation for Ottawa’s dismissal of a Chinese diplomat accused of trying to intimidate a Canadian MP.

On Monday, Canada declared Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei “persona non grata” and ordered him to leave the country.

In response, China on Tuesday ordered the removal of Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, the Canadian diplomat to its consulate in Shanghai.

“China reserves the right to react further,” Beijing said in a statement.

The two diplomats have five days to leave the country.

These censures mark a significant deterioration in relations between Ottawa and Beijing following reports of alleged Chinese political interference in Canada.

Canada had accused China of targeting its opposition MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong after Mr. Chong accused China of human rights abuses.

Last Thursday, Canada summoned the Chinese ambassador to reiterate that Canada would not tolerate interference in its affairs.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been strained since the arrest of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, detained in Canada on U.S. fraud charges in 2018, and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on espionage charges. All three were free in 2021.

At the time, China insisted the two cases were unrelated, but critics accused Beijing of using the Canadians as a political bargaining chip.

Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly on Monday declared Mr. Zhao “persona non grata,” a Latin expression for an “undesirable person.”

China called the move “unscrupulous” and said the same about Ms. Lalonde – saying it was a “reciprocal countermeasure.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada “will not be intimidated” by China following Beijing’s expulsion.

“We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect Canadians from foreign interference,” he said.

Canada’s intelligence agency believes China sought details of Mr Chong’s relatives in Hong Kong in an attempt to determine his “anti-China stances”.

Politicians presented a motion to Parliament in 2021 declaring that China’s treatment of the Uyghurs was genocide. China denied the accusations and sanctioned Mr. Chong shortly after.

Ms. Joly said Monday that Canada “will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs” and that the decision to expel the diplomat was “taken after careful consideration of all the factors at play.”

Canada’s intelligence agency has since been ordered to immediately transmit information about threats against parliamentarians and their families.

“China strongly condemns and firmly opposes this and has lodged serious representations and strong protests against Canada,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

Last week, China accused Canada of “slander and defamation” over allegations that Beijing targeted Mr. Chong and his family.

Mr. Chong, a conservative, criticized the ruling Liberals for their mishandling of the matter and said Monday: “It shouldn’t have taken the government two years to make this decision.”

The allegations come amid other intelligence reports, leaked to Canadian media, that accuse China of attempting to interfere in Canadian elections.

In March, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of an independent special rapporteur to investigate allegations of interference.

Chad Sutton

"Typical zombieaholic. General twitter fanatic. Food fanatic. Gamer. Unapologetic analyst."

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