China strongly protests Canada's summoning of ambassador over 'interference' allegation
Reciprocal measures will be taken if Canada expels Chinese diplomat
Published: May 05, 2023 11:45 PM
China and Canada Photo: VCG

China and Canada Photo: VCG

China on Friday strongly protested the Canadian Foreign Ministry's threat of expulsion of Chinese diplomats based on hyping of rumors, and said it will take firm actions to defend its interests, as the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry lodged a stern representation to Canada's ambassador to China.

The diplomatic row between China and Canada continued on Friday, with analysts criticizing Canada for losing rationality in its China policy. China-Canada relations, which have not fully recovered from the arrest of Huawei's Meng Wanzhou, should not be kidnapped and destroyed by certain Canadian politicians, observers said. 

"Should the Canadian side continue to make provocations, China will play along every step of the way until the very end," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, reiterating Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu's remarks in response to the latest developments in the dispute. 

On Thursday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced the summoning of the Chinese ambassador and threatened the expulsion of Chinese diplomatic and consular personnel after Canadian Conservative MP Michael Chong accused a Chinese diplomat of seeking to "intimidate" him and his family in Hong Kong over his criticisms of China. 

Certain Canadian politicians and media hyped the so-called intimidation, which is a baseless political stunt with ideological bias. Chinese diplomats in Canada have always abided by international conventions and fulfilled their duties in accordance with laws, said Mao, stressing that China will take necessary action to firmly defend its interests. 

China's sanctions against certain Canadian politicians in March 2021 were reciprocal countermeasures to Canada's sanctions on Chinese individuals and entities based on lies and disinformation about China's Xinjiang region. Mao said that Canada's provocation harmed China's interests, and China's countermeasures were legitimate and necessary.

Canadian media Globe and Mail claimed in a report on May 1 that China's intelligence agency had planned to target Chong and his relatives with sanctions after Chong voted in February 2021 for a motion condemning China's policy in Xinjiang region as "genocide."

Both the Chinese Consulate-General in Toronto and the Chinese Embassy refuted the baseless claims and groundless accusations on Thursday. Moreover, while meeting with a senior official of Global Affairs Canada on Thursday, Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu stressed that China's diplomatic and consular officials' normal performance must not be smeared, and China's sovereignty, security and development interests must not be violated. 

The Chinese ambassador also urged the Canadian side to immediately stop this self-directed political farce, and not go further down the wrong and dangerous path. Should the Canadian side continue to make provocations, China will play along every step of the way until the very end, he said.

The current political stunt staged by some Canadian politicians and media is the latest in a series of mounting allegations of China meddling with Canada's elections to favor Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party, and the opposition parties are using the event to attack the Trudeau government, pushing him to take a tougher policy toward China, analysts said. 

The Conservative Party, as the main opposition party in Canada, has suffered a setback in the election and is hyping China-related issues to attack the Liberal Party. Some Canadian politicians are using baseless allegations to slander China and to estrange China from Canada, Huang Zhong, an expert on Canadian studies from the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Canadian opposition parties have pushed for months for a broad public inquiry into alleged interference from China into Canada's election. For example, in March, Kenny Chiu, a member of Canada's Conservative Party, claimed that "China's meddling" is the reason he lost his seat in the 2021 federal election, media reported. 

China has repeatedly refuted the interference allegations, but some Canadian politicians continued to hype the issue. Analysts noted that Canadian politicians are making China-related topics a core agenda for political struggle regardless of Canada's national interests, and the mounting anti-China sentiment has poisoned the atmosphere of bilateral exchanges. 

"Canada is gradually losing its basic attitude of calmness, objectivity, rationality and independence in its China policy," said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the China Foreign Affairs University. 

Instead of reflecting on its deviated China policy, Canada summoned the Chinese ambassador, which will further consolidate the "China threat" narrative, Li told the Global Times. 

If some Canadians are determined to blindly follow the US in targeting China, China-Canada relations will be affected and so will Canada's international image, said Li, noting that China has warned Canada of serious consequences for expelling a Chinese diplomat. 

Huang also expressed concerns over the Trudeau government's future China policy. Unlike Australia, which has closely followed the US in recent years and fully cooperated with it through mechanisms such as AUKUS, Canada actually hopes to balance influence from the US. 

However, it is facing more pressure from opposition parties to take a tougher China policy due to domestic politics and pressure from the US, said Huang.

Analysts also called for more rational voices from Canada to resist the current frenetic anti-China sentiment of some politicians, as sour relations bring no good to the two countries.