Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 9, 2023

Newsline: China expels Canadian diplomat in tit-for-tat move

China on Tuesday expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai in a retaliatory 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. “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. 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.” (https://neuters.de/world/americas/canada-expels-chinese-diplomat-accused-targeting-lawmaker-2023-05-08/) China reserves the right to respond further, the foreign ministry added.

Newsline: Protest letter by South Korea’s embassy criticised in China

China’s hawkish state media tabloid, the Global Times, criticised a letter of protest by South Korea’s embassy in Beijing, the latest public spat amid worsening ties between the Asian neighbours. South Korea’s recent diplomatic push towards Japan and the U.S. would “induce and aggravate the … collapse of the situation in northeast Asia” the paper said, a day after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s landmark visit to Seoul. The editorial comment followed a letter published by the embassy on its website on Friday that “expressed strong regret over a series of unreasonable slanderous articles” by the paper. The articles used “sensational, provocative and inappropriate vocabulary to denigrate not only our leader but also the Korean government’s foreign policy,” the embassy added. In turn, the Global Times criticised the embassy’s “brutal interference in (its) independent reporting”. (https://www.investing.com/news/commodities-news/chinese-state-tabloid-criticises-protest-letter-from-south-korean-embassy-3075393) Foreign embassies in China rarely offer public criticism of reporting by Chinese state media. South Korea’s embassy in China did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s foreign ministry distanced itself from the state-affiliated tabloid at a daily briefing on Monday.

Newsline: Canada declares Chinese diplomat ‘persona non grata’

Canada decided to expel a Chinese diplomat, following an uproar in the country over allegations of political meddling, which Beijing has fiercely denied. “Canada has decided to declare persona non grata Mr. Zhao Wei,” read a statement by Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly. “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.” The news follows weeks of uproar in Canada sparked by revelations, first reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper, that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service found an accredited Chinese diplomat in the country had targeted opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in China following his criticisms of Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minorities. Chong has repeatedly called for Zhao’s expulsion since the Globe report emerged. Beijing has denied accusations of political interference in Canada. In a statement dated May 5 and posted to the website of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, a spokesperson flatly rejected the possibility “that a consular officer from the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto was involved in the so-called intimidation of a Canadian Member of Parliament and his relatives.” “The claim has no factual basis and is totally groundless. We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it,” it said. (https://lite.cnn.com/2023/05/08/americas/canada-expels-chinese-diplomat-intl/index.html) The intelligence service also said that Beijing had tried to sway the outcome of Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.