Canada expels Chinese diplomat under the influence

Usman Deen
Usman Deen

Global Courant 2023-05-09 06:22:59

Canada on Monday expelled a Chinese diplomat accused of harassment and gathering information about a Canadian lawmaker who had criticized China, a decision that heightened tensions between the two countries.

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, said in a rack that the diplomat, Zhao Wei, had been declared “persona non grata”. Ms Joly said the decision was made “after careful consideration of all factors involved.”

“Diplomats in Canada have been warned that if they engage in this type of behavior they will be sent home,” she added. “We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference.”

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In response, China said Canada had “seriously violated relations” and promised to take “decisive countermeasures”.

Allegations of election interference have rocked Canada in recent months. The Globe and the Mail The newspaper and other prominent Canadian news organizations have published a series of leaked intelligence reports accusing the Chinese government and its diplomats in Canada of attempting to rig the last two elections to ensure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party wins.

The goal, according to the reports: prevent a victory for the Conservative Party, which the Chinese viewed as being too hard on China. The reports caused a political storm and raised questions about the integrity of Canadian democracy. China has denied any influence campaign in Canada.

The Globe, citing a top-secret document from 2021, also reported that Mr. Zhao had been involved in gathering information on Canadian lawmaker Michael Chong, who is a Conservative MP, and his family in Hong Kong in a possible attempt to make an example of him.

In 2021, Mr. Chong angered Beijing for supporting a motion to declare China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority as genocide. Beijing then imposed sanctions on Mr. Chong, denied him entry into the county and banned Chinese citizens from doing business with him.

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That year, a Canadian Security Intelligence Agency report on a possible Chinese influence campaign also included information about potential threats to Mr. Chong.

The Chinese consulate in Toronto, where Mr. Zhao is based, said in a statement last week: “The claim has no factual basis and is totally baseless.”

It was not clear whether Mr. Zhao had been given a deadline to leave the country.

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Diplomatic expulsions are not common. In 2018, Canada joined Western allies in launching Russian envoys in the wake of allegations that Kremlin agents used a nerve agent to kill a former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33 , to poison.

After Ms Joly’s announcement, Mr Chong told reporters, “It shouldn’t have taken two years for the government to make this decision.” He had said he was “deeply disappointed” when he learned through a newspaper about the potential threat to his family in Hong Kong, and criticized Trudeau’s government for its lack of action. Since the Globe report, he had continuously called for Mr. Zhao’s expulsion.

After Mr. Trudeau said he was unaware of allegations that Chinese diplomats were targeting Canadian lawmakers, Mr. Chong replied last week: “This is a complete failure of the leadership of part of the prime minister.”

An independent report, made public on March 2, concluded that while China, Russia and Iran had tried to interfere in the 2019 and 2021 elections, they had no effect on the results.

That is what the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said on Monday a statement that China “strongly condemns and vigorously opposes” the action against Mr. Zhao and has filed a “strong protest” against the expulsion, which it said was based on “rumours of the so-called ‘China Interference’ extolled by some politicians and media.”

Canada expels Chinese diplomat under the influence

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