China on Tuesday expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai in a tit-for-tat move after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave, escalating tense relations amid concerns about Chinese influence in Canada.
Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei on Monday after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.
“We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday.
In response to Canada’s “unreasonable actions”, China told Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Canadian consulate in Shanghai, to leave China by May 13, according to the Chinese foreign ministry in a statement.
China reserves the right to respond further, the foreign ministry added.
“In response to the Canadian side’s unreasonable provocation, China has adopted corresponding retaliatory measures,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular news conference. “This was absolutely just and necessary. We urge Canada to immediately stop its unreasonable provocations.”
Wang added that if Canada did not heed Beijing’s warning and continues to “act recklessly”, China will “fight back resolutely and forcefully, and the Canadian side must bear all the consequences.”
Diplomatic tensions have been running high 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.
Last year, Beijing lifted a three-year ban on imports of canola, Canada’s largest crop, from trading companies Richardson International and Viterra. The restrictions followed Meng’s arrest, but China cited concerns about pests. China is also a major importer of Canadian potash and wheat.