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Canada, China expel envoys in escalating row

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SHANGHAI: China said on Tuesday it was expelling Canada’s consul in Shanghai, in a tit-for-tat move after Ottawa announced it was sending home a Chinese diplomat accused of trying to intimidate a lawmaker.

The expulsions have plunged the two nations into a fresh diplomatic row after years of souring relations.

They follow an outcry in Canada over allegations that Chinese intelligence had planned to target MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong with sanctions for sponsoring a motion condemning Beijing’s conduct in the Xinjiang region as genocide.

In response, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei — who allegedly played a role in the scheme — would have to leave the country.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned the decision to expel Zhao, and said it had ordered Canadian consul Jennifer Lynn Lalonde to leave the country by May 13.

“As a reciprocal countermeasure in reaction to Canada’s unscrupulous move, China decides to declare Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai, persona non grata,” the ministry said in a statement.

And foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged Canada to stop “unreasonable provocations”.

A single police car was seen parked outside the Shanghai office building where the consulate is based.

Inside, appointments appeared to be running as normal, and staff at reception said they were unaware of Tuesday’s developments.

Neither Canada’s foreign ministry nor its embassy in Beijing replied to requests for comment from AFP.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced growing pressure to take a hard line on China following revelations in recent months that it sought to sway Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections in his party’s favour.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2023

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