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China expels Canadian diplomat in tit-for-tat move

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In response for Ottawa sending home a Chinese ambassador accused of attempting to intimidate a Canadian MP, China has expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai.

Zhao Wei, a Chinese official, was ordered to leave Canada on Monday after being branded “persona non grata” by the nation.

In retaliation, China on Tuesday demanded that Canada’s diplomat in its Shanghai Consulate, Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, be expelled.

Beijing issued a statement that read, “China reserves the right to further react.”

Each diplomat has five days to leave the respective nation.

Due to claims of suspected Chinese political intervention in Canada, ties between Ottawa and Beijing have significantly deteriorated as a result of the censures.

After opposition member Michael Chong accused China of violating human rights, Canada accused China of pursuing him and his family in Hong Kong.

Canada summoned China’s ambassador last Thursday to reaffirm that it would not put up with meddling in its internal affairs.

Since the incarceration of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, who was jailed in Canada on US fraud accusations in 2018, and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying allegations, diplomatic ties between the two nations have been strained. In 2021, all three were set free.

At the time, China maintained that the two instances were unrelated, but detractors charged that Beijing was using the Canadians as political leverage.

On Monday, Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, designated Mr. Zhao as “persona non grata,” which is Latin for “unwelcome person.”

China described the action as “unscrupulous,” calling Ms. Lalonde’s “reciprocal countermeasure” “unscrupulous” was also used to describe China.

Beijing’s tit-for-tat expulsion

Following Beijing’s tit-for-tat expulsion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared on Tuesday that Canada “will not be intimidated” by China.

He said, “We will keep doing everything required to protect Canadians from foreign interference.”

In response to Mr. Chong’s outspoken criticism of China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority population, a Canadian intelligence assessment that was published in The Globe and Mail newspaper accused Mr. Zhao of being involved in gathering information about Mr. Chong, 51.

In an effort to discourage “anti-China positions,” it was stated that the Canadian intelligence agency believes China requested information about Mr. Chong’s family in Hong Kong.

In 2021, the legislator introduced a bill in the legislature that referred to China’s treatment of Uyghurs as genocide. China has refuted the allegations and immediately after that, Mr. Chong received sanctions.

The decision to remove the diplomat had “been taken after careful consideration of all factors at play,” Ms. Joly said on Monday, adding that Canada “will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs.”

Since then, the Canadian intelligence service has been ordered to swiftly alert lawmakers and their families to any threats.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a statement on Tuesday that China “strongly condemns and firmly opposes this and has lodged serious démarches and strong protest to Canada.”

Over the charges, Beijing targeted Mr. Chong and his family, China last week accused Canada of “slander and defamation” in a statement.

Mr Chong, a Conservative, has criticised the governing Liberals of mishandling the matter and on Monday said: “It shouldn’t have taken two years for the government to make this decision”.

The allegations come amid other intelligence reports, leaked to Canadian media outlets, that have accused China of attempting to interfere in Canadian elections.

In March, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an independent special rapporteur to investigate the interference claims.

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