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” to Canada’s “unreasonable behavior” and reserved the right to make further responses.
The Canadian embassy in Beijing didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.
On Monday, news/articles/2023-05-08/canada-expels-chinese-envoy-risking-retaliation-in-growing-feud” target=”_blank”>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.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement: “I have been clear: we will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs. Diplomats in Canada have been warned that if they engage in this type of behavior, they will be sent home.”
The diplomatic spat is the latest rupture in ties between Beijing and Ottawa. 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.
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