A day after Canada removed a Chinese diplomat for allegedly intimidating a Canadian lawmaker, China expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai on Tuesday.
China’s Foreign Ministry sharply criticized the expulsion of Toronto-based diplomat Zhao Wei and declared Shanghai consul Jennifer Lynn Lalonde persona non grata as a “reciprocal countermeasure” on Tuesday.
The document requests Lalonde leave China on May 13.
“We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday as Canada expelled Zhao. Diplomats in Canada have been warned that such behavior will result in expulsion.
After the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) found an accredited Chinese diplomat in the country had targeted opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and relatives who may be Chinese after he sponsored a motion to condemn China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority group, public pressure on the government to respond increased.
The Globe and Mail disclosed the intelligence earlier this month amid public outrage over China’s alleged meddling in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections.
Beijing regularly denies political intervention in Canada. On Monday, the Chinese Embassy in Canada termed the claims “groundless” and said the deportation would harm China-Canada ties.
In 2018, Beijing detained two Canadians in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese entrepreneur Meng Wanzhou, straining relations.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were freed on the same day Meng was permitted to return to China in 2021, despite Beijing’s denials that their trials were political reprisal.
The country’s significant Chinese minority has raised concerns about Chinese intervention in the country, notably through foreign police stations and speech policing.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched an inquiry earlier this year to detect and counteract foreign intervention in Canada’s elections and democracy after allegations of Chinese meddling.
Trudeau claimed intelligence services didn’t inform him about Chong’s suspected targeting. Last Monday, his Foreign Ministry summoned Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu.
Chong, who represents Ontario’s Wellington-Halton Hills constituency, demanded Zhao’s removal and chastised Trudeau’s administration for inaction.
Chong tweeted on May 1 that he learned about the intelligence, which was cited in a 2021 CSIS assessment, via the Globe and Mail. CSIS had briefed him on broad foreign influence dangers.
Like many Canadians, I have family abroad. “The PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) targeting of family abroad to intimidate and coerce Canadians here at home is a serious, national threat,” Chong said, stating that he had family in Hong Kong.
China sanctioned Chong and other political officials in March 2021 in retaliation to American and Canadian sanctions against Xinjiang “based on rumors and disinformation.”
China’s treatment of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities may constitute crimes against humanity. Beijing rejects the charges, and rights organizations have recorded its efforts to deflect international attention.
Canada’s parliament passed a non-binding vote calling China’s Xinjiang treatment of Uyghurs genocide in February 2021.
China may expel a diplomat from Canada’s embassy in China as “countermeasures” to Zhao’s deportation.
Beijing is also known for punishing diplomatic relations with economic or trade actions.
According to the Globe and Mail, expelled diplomat Zhao worked in China’s Toronto embassy.
CNN’s Monday night search of China’s diplomatic diplomats didn’t reveal his identity.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Joly said Canada needed to consider how China would react to calling Zhao “persona non grata” on Monday.
On Thursday, Joly warned legislators that China will “of course” act against Canada’s “economic interest, consumer interest and also diplomatic interests,” adding, “I know that we are under pressure to go fast, (but) we need to make sure as well that we protect our democracy.”