The Canadian government has expelled a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat who was allegedly involved in a scheme to intimidate a member of parliament.
China is accused of seeking to target lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong after he accused China of human rights abuses.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly declared diplomat Zhao Wei a “persona non grata” in a statement on Monday.
China’s embassy in Ottawa said it condemns the expulsion.
The move by Ottawa follows a Canadian intelligence report, which emerged in the Globe and Mail newspaper, that accused Mr Zhao of being involved in gathering information about Mr Chong, 51, following his vocal criticism China’s treatment of its Uighur minority population.
It said Canada’s spy agency believes China sought details about Mr Chong’s relatives in Hong Kong in an effort to deter “anti-China positions”.
The politician put forward a motion in parliament in 2021 that declared China’s treatment of Uighurs a genocide. China has denied the accusations and sanctioned Mr Chong shortly after.
Ms Joly said on Monday that Canada “will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs” and that the decision to expel the diplomat had “been taken after careful consideration of all factors at play”.
Canada’s spy agency has since been directed to immediately pass on information about threats to members of parliament and their families.
In a statement reported by Reuters, China’s embassy in Ottawa said it “will resolutely take countermeasures” over the expulsion.
China last week accused Canada of “slander and defamation” over the claims Beijing targeted Mr Chong and his family.
Mr Chong, a Conservative, has criticised the governing Liberals of mishandling the matter and on Monday said: “It shouldn’t have taken two years for the government to make this decision”.
The allegations come amid other intelligence reports, leaked to Canadian media outlets, that have accused China of attempting to interfere in Canadian elections.
In March, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an independent special rapporteur to investigate the interference claims.
Source : BBC