Canada on Monday expelled Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.
“We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday.
The deportation aggravates the country’s already strained relations with China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner.
In response to Canada’s “unreasonable actions”, China told Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Canadian consulate in Shanghai, to leave China by May 13, according to the Chinese foreign ministry in a statement.
China reserves the right to respond further, the foreign ministry added.
Spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) authored a report in 2021 about Chinese influence in Canada that included information about potential threats to Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong and his family.
“It shouldn’t have taken two years for the government to make this decision,” Chong told reporters after the announcement.
China has declared that it has never became involved in Canadian internal matters and has no plans to do so. China’s Toronto consulate-general said the report on Chong has “no factual basis and is purely baseless.”
Details of the CSIS report were revealed on May 1, when the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada claimed that China requested information about Chong and his family in China in an effort to “make an example” of him and prevent others from taking anti-Chinese government positions.
According to the Globe, citing an unknown national security source, Zhao was involved in gathering information about Chong, who in 2021 successfully supported a vote labeling China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority genocide.
Chong said he was “profoundly disappointed” to find out about the potential threat to his family in Hong Kong from a newspaper and criticized Trudeau’s government for inaction. He repeatedly called for Zhao’s expulsion since the Globe report.
Canadian media outlets have published several reports, citing anonymous intelligence sources, alleging schemes run by the Chinese government to interfere in Canada’s last two elections. Beijing has denied those allegations.
Trudeau did not get the report
Trudeau said he found out about the intelligence report from the newspaper, and on Wednesday blamed the spy agency for not passing it to him at the time.
The agency has now been required to pass on information regarding threats to members of parliament and their families as soon as possible.
Trudeau has previously said China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 votes, but that the efforts did not change the outcome. He has appointed an independent special investigator to probe the allegations.
Since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges, diplomatic relations between Canada and China have been tense. In 2021, all three were released.