China has declared a Canadian diplomat as ‘persona non grata’ in retaliation for Ottawa’s expulsion of a Chinese consular official, who Canada’s spy agency alleged was involved in a plot to intimidate Conservative MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong.
Canada has earlier expelled a Chinese diplomat after allegations that Beijing tried to intimidate an MP and interfere in the country’s elections, according to media reports.
In a statement on Monday, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said that Canada has declared Toronto-based diplomat Zhao Wei “persona non grata”, CNN reported.
“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 behaviour, they will be sent home,” she added.
Monday’s development follows mounting public pressure on the Ottawa government to respond following revelations the Canadian Security Intelligence Service found an accredited Chinese diplomat in the country had targeted opposition MP Michael Chong, and his relatives in China, after he sponsored a motion to condemn Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority group.
The intelligence service also reportedly said Beijing had tried to sway the outcome of Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
The allegations were first reported by Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail.
Chong, who represents the Wellington-Halton Hills district in Ontario, has repeatedly called for Zhao’s expulsion since the media report of Chinese actions emerged.
In response to the explusion, the Chinese Embassy in Canada called allegations of political interference “groundless” and warned of “consequences”.
“China strongly condemns and firmly opposes it and has lodged a solemn representation with Canada. China will resolutely take countermeasures, and Canada will bear all the consequences arising therefrom,” CNN quoted the Embassy as saying in a statement late Monday.
It added that the move “deliberately undermines China-Canada relations”.
The latest allegations come amid other intelligence reports, leaked to Canadian media outlets, that have accused China of attempting to interfere in Canadian elections, the BBC said.
In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an independent special rapporteur to investigate the interference claims.