China reportedly expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai on Tuesday, an apparent retaliation after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave the country. The move has escalated tensions between the two countries, following suspicion of Chinese influence in Canada.
China’s move comes after the Canadian government reportedly expelled Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after Canada’s spy agency suggested that Wei was involved in a plot to intimidate an opposition lawmaker and his relatives in Hong Kong, per the Associated Press.
The intelligence report suggested that Wei had attempted to target a Canadian lawmaker who was critical of China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim population in the country, per Reuters.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said that they “will not tolerate any form of foreign interference.”
She tweeted: “Canada has decided to declare persona non grata, Mr. Zhao Wei.”
Beijing apparently took note of the reported expulsion of the Chinese diplomat and demanded that Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, console of the Canadian consulate in Shanghai, leave China by May 13, according to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry, per the report.
China also noted that it reserves the right to respond further, with Wang Wenbin, spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, saying: "In response to the Canadian side's unreasonable provocation, China has adopted corresponding retaliatory measures."
"This was absolutely just and necessary. We urge Canada to immediately stop its unreasonable provocations."
Wang added that if Canada refuses to heed Beijing’s warnings and proceeds to “act recklessly,” China will “fight back resolutely and forcefully, and the Canadian side must bear all the consequences.”
Diplomatic tensions between the two countries have been escalating since Canada detained Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s response in arresting two Canadians on spying charges. However, all three were released in 2021.