Canada expels Chinese diplomat for allegedly

Adeyemi Adeyemi
Adeyemi Adeyemi

Global Courant 2023-05-09 00:36:32


Canada’s foreign minister says Zhao Wei has been declared ‘persona non grata’ after allegedly harassing an opposition MP.

Canada is expelling a Chinese diplomat after Zhao Wei was accused of being involved in a campaign to intimidate a Canadian opposition lawmaker critical of Beijing.

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In a statement Monday, Secretary of State Melanie Joly said the Canadian government has designated Zhao, a Toronto-based diplomat, as “persona non grata”.

“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 kind of behavior they will be sent home,” Joly said.

The Chinese government has rejected allegations of interference in Canada’s internal affairs, saying last week it “has no interest whatsoever”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is under pressure to take action after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported earlier this month that China sought information about family members of a Canadian lawmaker “who may be within its borders.”

The move was likely part of an effort to “set an example for this MP and deter others” from taking anti-Chinese positions, the newspaper said, citing Canada’s espionage agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (CSIS).

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While the CSIS report did not name the legislator, The Globe said a national security source identified the targeted politician as Michael Chong, a member of Canada’s Conservative Opposition Party.

Conservative Party legislator Michael Chong is at the center of recent allegations of Chinese interference in Canada (File: Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

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

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The allegations this month have led to renewed tensions between Ottawa and Beijing. The two countries have had a frosty relationship for years over a range of issues, including human rights, trade and the arrests of Canadian and Chinese citizens.

Canada on Friday summoned China’s ambassador to the country over the latest allegations of harassment against Chong, stressing that it was considering all necessary measures to defend its sovereignty.

Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, hit back by accusing the Canadian government of making “baseless defamation” against its diplomatic and consular mission in Canada.

“A handful of Canadian politicians and media outlets have blown up a fabricated narrative about ‘China targeting a Canadian lawmaker,’ which is nothing but a political stunt born out of ideological bias,” Mao said at a news briefing last week.

“I want to emphasize that Chinese diplomatic and consular staff in Canada always adhere to relevant international conventions and perform their duties in accordance with the law. The Chinese side will take the necessary measures to firmly protect its own interests.”

Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, said on Monday that the decision to blacklist Zhao came “after careful consideration of all factors involved”.

“We remain determined that defending our democracy is of paramount importance,” she said.

This is an evolving story. More updates to follow.

Canada expels Chinese diplomat for allegedly

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