Fresh diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa: China on Tuesday announced the evacuation of the Canadian embassy in Shanghai in retaliation for a Chinese diplomat accused of trying to intimidate a Canadian MP.
Bilateral relations have been strained since Canadian authorities arrested an official of Chinese telecommunications group Huawei in 2018 and China retaliated by jailing two Canadians.
Although the three were freed, tensions remained, with Beijing accusing Ottawa of aligning with Washington’s China policy and Canadian officials regularly accusing China of meddling.
The Canadian newspaper “Globe and Mail” reported last week that Conservative MP Michael Chong and his family came under Chinese pressure after the parliamentarian criticized Beijing.
In February 2021, Mr. The paper claims that Chong was targeted by Chinese intelligence because he voted.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, the Canadian ambassador in Shanghai, is now “persona non grata” and must “leave China before May 13”.
The document adds that China “reserves the right to take other measures” in retaliation.
At the Canadian embassy in Shanghai, staff told AFP they were not aware of the decision. A Chinese police car was parked in front of the embassy building.
Neither Canada’s foreign affairs department nor its embassy in Beijing had immediate comment.
“We advise the Canadian side to stop unreasonable provocations,” Chinese diplomatic spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday.
He warned that China would take “resolute and forceful action” if Canada “does not heed this advice”.
The fresh diplomatic crisis was sparked by Canada’s decision on Monday to expel Zhao Wei, a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat whom Canada believes was involved in the intimidation of MP Michael Chong.
“We will not tolerate foreign interference in our internal affairs,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie said in announcing Zhao’s expulsion.
Zhao Wei, the Chinese consul in Toronto, will be deported in the coming days, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The decision was immediately condemned by Canada’s second-largest trading partner, China, which Ottawa accused of “sabotaging” already existing bilateral relations.
In this context, China had already condemned the alleged interference as “defamation” and “defamation” when China’s ambassador was summoned by the Canadian foreign ministry last week.
Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, are the main ethnic group in Xinjiang (northwest China), which has long suffered from bloody attacks by authorities on Islamists and Uyghur separatists.
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In the name of counter-terrorism, Chinese authorities launched a sweeping crackdown in the mid-2010s. The UN raises the possibility of crimes against humanity.
In the company of two other American figures, Michael Chong was admitted in March 2021 after his vote by Beijing in response to the first sanctions from Canada and the United States against China on the matter.
China’s foreign ministry said at the time that those targeted were banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
For weeks, Justin Trudeau’s government has been under increasing pressure to raise its voice against Beijing, accusing it of meddling in Canadian affairs as the revelations in the press again raised tensions.
China is suspected of trying to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 Canadian elections in particular. In a series of articles published by Canadian media, there is the question of covert funding or involvement in the campaigns of certain candidates.
Chinese officials “vehemently” denied the allegations.
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