China has ordered a Canadian diplomat to leave the country, in a tit-for-tat move hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government expelled a Chinese envoy from his nation.
Jennifer Lalonde, a diplomat from Canada’s consulate in Shanghai, has until Saturday to leave the country, according to a statement Tuesday from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. China called the move a “reciprocal countermeasure” and reserved the right to make further responses. The Canadian embassy in Beijing didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.
On Monday, Canada expelled Chinese envoy Zhao Wei after a Globe and Mail report claimed the diplomat was looking into penalizing Conservative lawmaker Michael Chong over his hard-line positions on China. The punishments could entail sanctioning Chong’s relatives in Hong Kong, the report said, citing a leaked intelligence document.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the Canadian claims “unfounded” at a regular briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. “Canada’s ill-founded decision to declare a Chinese diplomat a persona non-grata is an egregious move that violates the basic norms governing international relations and a deliberate blow to Canada’s relations with China,” he added.
Trudeau said Tuesday that his government made the decision with “careful consideration” and won’t be swayed by Chinese retaliation. Among the considerations were possible economic consequences, he said.
“Regardless of whatever next choices they make, we will not be intimidated,” the prime minister told reporters in Ottawa. “We will ensure that China continues to see, along with other countries that are engaging in foreign interference, that we take this extraordinarily seriously.”
The diplomatic spat is the latest rupture in ties between China and Canada. The two nations were caught in a years-long standoff after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was held under house arrest in Vancouver as she battled extradition to the US. Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained within days of Meng’s December 2018 arrest and held until all three were freed in September 2021.
During that period, China banned canola shipments from top Canadian exporters Richardson International and Viterra in March 2019, citing the detection of pests. Inspections on cargoes from other firms also got more stringent, cutting overall Canadian canola exports to China. In 2022, China lifted the three-year ban on the Canadian oilseed and has been stepping up imports.
—With assistance from Hallie Gu and Laura Dhillon Kane.
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