China expels Canadian diplomat to get even with Ottawa amid strained ties


A day after Canada ejected a Chinese diplomat over accusations of strong-arming a Canadian politician, China on Tuesday got even with Ottawa by expelling a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai, prompting diplomatic outrage.

Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei on Monday after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

In a statement Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it strongly condemned the expulsion of Toronto-based diplomat Zhao Wei, and as a “reciprocal countermeasure,” would declare Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, a consul of the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai, persona non grata.

Lalonde has been asked to leave China before May 13, according to the statement.

Announcing Zhao’s expulsion Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said: “We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs. Diplomats in Canada have been warned that if they engage in this type of behaviour, they will be sent home.”

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.

“In response to the Canadian side’s unreasonable provocation, China has adopted corresponding retaliatory measures,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular news conference. “This was absolutely just and necessary. We urge Canada to immediately stop its unreasonable provocations.”

The move comes following disclosures made by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that there was credible intel that a Chinese diplomat reportedly targeted opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in China after he supported a motion to condemn China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority group.

Canadian spy agency authored a report in 2021 about Chinese influence in Canada that included information about potential threats to Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong and his family.

Details of the CSIS report came to light on May 1, when Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported China sought information about Chong and his family in China in a likely effort to “make an example” of him and deter others from taking anti-Chinese government position.

“It shouldn’t have taken two years for the government 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. China’s Toronto consulate-general said the report on Chong has “no factual basis and is 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 its Uyghur Muslim minority genocide.

Chong said he was “profoundly disappointed” to find out about the potential threat to his family in Hong Kong from a newspaper, and criticized Trudeau’s government for inaction. He repeatedly called for Zhao’s expulsion since the Globe report.

Trudeau said he found out about the intelligence report from the newspaper, and on Wednesday blamed the spy agency for not passing it on him at the time.

The agency has now been directed to immediately pass on information about threats to members of parliament and their families.

Canadian media outlets have published several reports, citing anonymous intelligence sources, alleging schemes run by the Chinese government to interfere in Canada’s last two elections. Beijing has denied those allegations.

Trudeau has said China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 votes, but that the efforts did not change the outcome. He has appointed an independent special investigator to probe the allegations.__The News