Canada won’t be intimidated by China’s expulsion of Canadian consul, says Trudeau

Image via Facebook Justin Trudeau

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated yesterday that the country would not be intimidated by China’s tit-for-tat expulsion of a Canadian consul. This came after Ottawa expelled a Chinese diplomat earlier this week, who was accused of targeting a lawmaker critical of Beijing. Trudeau emphasised that his administration’s decision to expel the Chinese official was taken to convey a clear message that foreign interference would not be tolerated.

The escalating dispute began when Canada announced the expulsion of Chinese diplomat, Zhao Wei, from its consulate in Toronto on Monday. In response, China’s Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, declared that this demonstrated Ottawa’s determination to defend its democracy.

Subsequently, local media revealed that China’s intelligence agency had planned to target MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong with sanctions. Chong had sponsored a 2021 motion condemning Beijing’s conduct in the Xinjiang region as genocide. After the revelations, China retaliated by expelling Canadian consul Jennifer Lalonde from Shanghai.

Beijing accused Canadian politicians and media of exaggerating allegations of foreign meddling in Canadian affairs and filed an official protest with Ottawa. The Chinese government has also warned that it “reserves the right to further react.”

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In light of this, Joly stated yesterday that Canadians would be made aware of potential risks when travelling to China.

Acknowledging the severity of declaring a foreign diplomat persona non grata, Trudeau highlighted Ottawa’s firm stance against foreign interference. Trudeau has previously faced pressure to adopt a more aggressive approach towards China, following allegations that Beijing sought to influence Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections in favour of his party.

Amid the recent allegations of targeting Chong, the Canadian intelligence services indicated that China “almost certainly meant to make an example of this MP and deter others from taking anti-PRC positions.” Zhao Wei was allegedly a key figure in the plot.

Chong expressed that the expulsion decision should not have required his involvement and lamented that Canada had become “a playground for foreign interference” with diaspora communities being harassed.

Relations between China and Canada have been strained since the 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada, at the request of the US, the subsequent detention of two Canadian nationals in China, and Beijing’s imposed bans on certain Canadian exports, including canola and pork. Although all three individuals have been released and trade restrictions lifted, tensions persist as the two countries continue to clash over technology and foreign policy.

In March, Trudeau appointed an independent special investigator to examine all allegations of Chinese meddling in Canadian affairs, reports Channel News Asia.

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Sara is a journalist and content writer who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics. Sara's journey in journalism began as a copywriter, and over time, her portfolio expanded to include articles and features for some of the nation's top lifestyle publications. Outside the office, she enjoys practising yoga and exploring hidden locations in Bangkok.

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