Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei on Monday for allegedly attempting to target Canadian MP Michael Chong and his Hong Kong-based relatives because the conservative lawmaker supported a legislative motion calling Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minority “genocide.”
Beijing reportedly sought information about a Canadian lawmaker’s family who may be in China in order to “make an example of this MP and deter others from taking anti-PRC positions.” According to a national security source, the MP, who was not named in the dossier issued by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), is Chong.
Zhao, a Chinese diplomat in Canada, was working on this matter, said the CSIS report.
After The Globe and Mail reported that Zhao was participating in a campaign in Hong Kong to punish Chong, and his family for their support for the legislative motion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced calls to remove Zhao.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the unusual action on Monday, saying it was made after “careful consideration of all factors at play.”
“Canada has decided to declare persona non grata Mr. Zhao Wei,” Mélanie Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “I have been clear: We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs.”
The move, which came in response to rising pressure from opposition lawmakers, was expected to aggravate relations between Ottawa and Beijing. Chinese officials dismissed the allegations of meddling as “rumors… hyped up by some politicians and media” and pledged retaliation.
China “strongly condemns and firmly opposes this, and has lodged stern protest with the Canadian side,” the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement. “The Chinese side will take resolute countermeasures, and all consequences arising therefrom shall be borne by the Canadian side.”
Last Monday, the Chinese government threatened retaliation: “Should the Canadian side continue to make provocations, China will play along every step of the way until the very end.”
Did it take too long?
Chong stated on Monday that the government should not have waited so long to boot Zhao.
“We have known for years that the PRC is using its accredited diplomats here in Canada to target Canadians and their families,” he said, adding “this should have happened years ago.”
Trudeau has stated that he knew of the intimidation attempt against Chong via The Globe and Mail report that broke the story. He stated last week that the CSIS had not shared the report with anyone outside the agency because it did not pose a “significant enough concern.”
Chong told Parliament that Trudeau’s national security and intelligence adviser had informed him that CSIS had shared the information with her predecessor and “relevant departments,” but not with the prime minister.
Trudeau stated that in the future, he would order the spy agency to share such intelligence with him.
“Moving forward, any threat — whether it’s serious or credible or not — to a member of Parliament, or their family, particularly from foreign sources, needs to be elevated to higher levels that it was,” he told reporters.
When asked last week why Canada had not expelled Zhao yet, Joly cited their respective instances.
“What we’re doing right now as a government is assessing the consequences that we’ll be facing … because there will be consequences,” she said. “I think it’s important that Canadians know what we’ve learned from the two Michaels’ experience is that, of course, China… will take action.”
Ties between Canada and China faltered in 2018 after China imprisoned two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — in apparent reprisal for Canada’s detention of a Chinese executive wanted on fraud charges in the United States.
Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive, returned to China in 2021 after reaching an agreement with US authorities. She was under house arrest at one of her two Vancouver houses. The “two Michaels,” as they were called in Canada, were also on their way home a few hours later.
Details of the alleged threats against Chong and his relatives come on the heels of a string of recent revelations in local media concerning China’s apparent attempts to meddle in Canadian affairs, particularly the 2021 federal election.
According to the accusations, which cite secret intelligence papers, China wanted to ensure that Trudeau’s Liberals were re-elected with a minority government, something analysts say would be impossible to do.
Information for this briefing was found via The Washington Post, The Globe And Mail, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.