China expels Canadian diplomat in worsening bilateral ties
The People’s Republic of China has expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai in retaliation for Ottawa sending home Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei.
On Monday, Canada expelled Zhao Wei after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker over issues regarding the Uyghur Muslim minority.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said, “We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference.” Canada ordered Zhao Wei to leave the country and go to China.
Reportedly, the Canadian MP was critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority group. This has created tensions between China and Canada.
Canada accused Zhao Wei of trying to intimidate a Canadian politician. The Canadian government also accused the Chinese government of trying to interfere in the country’s elections.
In retaliation, China expelled Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, Canada’s diplomat in its Shanghai Consulate. China slammed Canada for sending Zhao Wei home. Beijing said in a statement, “China reserves the right to further react.” China’s embassy in Ottawa protested the move of the Canadian government.
Canada claimed that China targeted Canadian lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong because Chong accused China of treating the Uyghur Muslim minority in the wrong way. Chong also accused China of human rights abuses.
A Canadian intelligence report accused Zhao of tracking information about Chong after he criticised the Chinese authorities. Canada’s spy agency said that China took information about Chong’s relatives in Hong Kong. The spy agency also claimed that China tried to manipulate the outcome of Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
Chong reportedly put forward a motion in parliament in 2021 to condemn China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority group in the country. Subsequently, the Chinese authorities imposed sanctions on Chong. China has repeatedly denied such allegations. China also denied any intentions of interfering in Canada’s internal affairs.