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We won’t let China intimidate us: Canadian PM Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that Canada will not be intimidated by retaliation from China after Beijing expelled a Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat response to Ottawa’s decision to eject a Chinese diplomat on Monday.

Canada expels Chinese diplomat, China retaliates

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Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei over allegations related to foreign interference, and hours later, China asked a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai to leave by May 13 in response to what it called Ottawa’s “unreasonable actions.”

“We understand there is retaliation, but we will not be intimidated, we will continue to do everything necessary to keep Canadians protected from foreign interference,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

Diplomatic tensions have simmered since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges. All three were freed in 2021.

Some fear the latest flare-up could have economic repercussions for Canada. Last year, Beijing lifted a three-year ban on imports of canola, Canada’s largest crop, from trading companies Richardson International and Viterra. China is also a major importer of Canadian potash and wheat.

China “took a very measured response,” Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said in an interview broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He said the Chinese could have responded by expelling a more senior official or multiple officials.

Saint-Jacques also said he does not expect China to resort to economic sanctions because Beijing is trying to reassure foreign companies that they can work there after draconian COVID-19 restrictions were dropped.

Beijing is conducting a “charm offensive (to) convince foreign enterprises to come back to China to invest,” Saint-Jacques added. “So putting sanctions on Canada at this stage would have sent a very bad message to foreign companies.”

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