Canada expels Chinese diplomat accused of bullying Canadian lawmaker, Beijing hits back

China refuted allegations that one of its diplomats in Canada had engaged in threatening, intimidating, and bullying behaviour toward a Canadian opposition legislator and interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced yesterday that the Canadian government had declared Zhao Wei as “persona non grata” and ordered him to leave the country immediately, despite Beijing’s denials. She said…

“I have been clear: 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.”

China rejected the allegations, with the Chinese embassy in Ottawa releasing a statement on its website condemning the expulsion and reiterating its position that Beijing has never meddled in Canada’s domestic affairs. The embassy also lodged a formal complaint with the Chinese government. The statement warned…

“China will resolutely take countermeasures. If the Canadian side acts recklessly, China will definitely fight back resolutely and forcefully.” And they did.

China expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai in retaliation.

China today ordered the removal of Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, Canada’s diplomat in its Shanghai Consulate. Beijing said…

“China reserves the right to further react.”

Both diplomats have five days to exit the countries.

Canada’s move comes after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that China had sought information about any relatives of a Canadian legislator “who may be located” within its borders. If true, this intimidation tactic was commonly used by China throughout Chairman Mao’s reign and especially during the Cultural Revolution.

The report cited Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which stated that China’s move was likely part of an effort to “make an example of this MP and deter others” from taking anti-China positions.

While the CSIS report did not name the lawmaker, the Globe said a national security source identified the targeted politician as Michael Chong, a member of the opposition Conservative Party of Canada.

Canada expels Chinese diplomat accused of bullying Canadian lawmaker, Beijing hits back | News by Thaiger
Canadian MP Michael Chong who has family in Hong Kong.

China sanctioned Chong in 2021 after he spearheaded a Canadian parliamentary motion condemning Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority as a “genocide” – a charge rejected by the Chinese government for years.

During a news conference yesterday, Chong responded to Canada’s announcement that it was blacklisting Zhao. He said…

“It shouldn’t have taken this long. We have known for years that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is using its accredited diplomats here in Canada to target Canadians and their families.”

The accusations this month have led to renewed tensions between Ottawa and Beijing, which have had frosty relations for several years over a range of issues, including human rights, trade, and the arrests of Canadian and Chinese citizens. Canada summoned the Chinese ambassador to the country on Friday over the allegations of intimidation against Chong, stressing that it was mulling all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty.

Joly said yesterday that the decision to blacklist Zhao came “after careful consideration of all factors at play.”

“We remain firm in our resolve that defending our democracy is one of the utmost importance.”

Heather McPherson, a member of the left-wing New Democratic Party, criticized the government for taking too long to declare Zhao “persona non grata.”

“It is appalling and unacceptable. There are members of the Chinese-Canadian community who have been warning about interference and intimidation for decades.”

The incident has also led to calls for Canada to investigate other alleged instances of Chinese interference, including attempts to meddle in Canadian elections and the use of covert “police stations” in Canada. Beijing has rejected those allegations

There is previous bad blood between Canada and China. Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping clashed at the G20 Summit in Bali in November last year.

President Xi confronted Trudeau at the summit and accused him of lacking “sincerity” after he leaked details of a meeting between the pair to the press.

The media filmed Xi approaching Trudeau and, through a translator, told him it was “inappropriate ” to share details about a conversation between the two leaders with the press.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.