This file photo taken on Dec 5, 2017, shows Canadian and Chinese flags taken prior to a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China's President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. (PHOTO / POOL / AFP)
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa, in response to Canada expelling a Chinese diplomat, said the consequences arising from the action shall be borne by the Canadian side.
"The Chinese side strongly condemns and firmly opposes this and has lodged stern protest with the Canadian side," said a statement on the embassy website.
The Canadian government declared a diplomat from the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto "persona non grata", Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced on Monday.
The Chinese embassy said the move was based on "rumors of the so-called 'China Interference' hyped up by some politicians and media" and it has "seriously violated international law".
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Experts interviewed by China Daily also said that the move will further strain already fragile economic and political ties between the two countries.
Instead of protecting China's diplomatic and consular personnel's legitimate rights, the Canadian side has chosen to condone and echo the anti-China forces' hype-up and conduct extreme actions against a Chinese consular official. China does not accept this completely … We urge the Canadian side to step back from the brink and refrain from moving further down the wrong path. If the Canadian side acts wantonly and arbitrarily, it will be met with China's resolute and strong reactions.
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa
The Chinese government also said that it has rejected the allegations of meddling in Canada's domestic affairs and has "no interest whatsoever in doing so".
"China never interferes in other countries' internal affairs. The so-called 'China Interference' is totally groundless, which is the out-and-out smear of China and the political manipulation driven by ideological bias.
"Such provocations by the Canadian side have severely undermined the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese diplomatic and consular personnel," the embassy statement said.
"Instead of protecting China's diplomatic and consular personnel's legitimate rights, the Canadian side has chosen to condone and echo the anti-China forces' hype-up and conduct extreme actions against a Chinese consular official. China does not accept this completely," the statement said. "We urge the Canadian side to step back from the brink and refrain from moving further down the wrong path. If the Canadian side acts wantonly and arbitrarily, it will be met with China's resolute and strong reactions."
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In March, the Conservative Party of Canada forced the House to put forward a motion that called for the expulsion of diplomats involved in "foreign interference", which stem from several Canadian media reports alleging that China interfered in Canada's last two elections.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked former governor general David Johnston to investigate to determine whether there should be a public inquiry into the matter.
The Globe and Mail reported last week that Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) Michael Chong was targeted by the Chinese government and that a Chinese diplomat in Toronto was alleged to have intimidated Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong.
China's Consulate General in Toronto said the claim "has no factual basis and is totally groundless".
The consulate said it has always followed the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Consular Agreement between the two countries and that its officers have never engaged in activities inconsistent with their official capacities.
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"Those Canadian media and politicians have been spreading disinformation with intent to damage the reputation and image of the Chinese Consulate General and maliciously disrupt normal exchange and cooperation between the two sides," the consulate said.
Jing Wenran, an adviser to the Asian Program at the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy, told China Daily that Canada's action will precipitate a more negative turn in bilateral relations.
"It is still not very clear what exactly happened other than an intelligence leak to the media over something in 2021," Jiang said. "Although the public is given very little details on what exactly happened, the overall tone in the Parliament and in public discourse has turned very negative against China."
He said the Liberal government in Ottawa has been under pressure from Conservatives on the issue. That is partly fed by Canada's spy agencies through targeted leaks to the media, Jiang said, and the expulsion is another sign that Canada-China relations have a long way to go.
With Ottawa taking a hard line, Beijing is almost certain to respond in kind, according to Jiang. That is why the Canadian side took "careful consideration" before it expelled the diplomat.
"A chilling bilateral relationship at the political level may prevent more active trade and economic activities by the businesses in both countries that would like to expand bilateral trade in certain sectors. Some of the commercial and trade ties already under pressure may not resume as soon as expected," Jiang said.
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He suggested that both parties now should take a calmer approach to prevent further escalation.
"A stable Canada-China relationship is critical for both countries in the post-Covid economic recovery," Jiang said.
Jonathan W. Dai, president of the Canada China Council for Cooperation and Development told China Daily that the diplomatic incident not only will hurt Canada's relationship with China but also the interests of Canadians in general.
"Arresting, or to be more exact, kidnapping (Huawei CFO) Meng Wanzhou at the baton of the Americans gave rise to a crisis that lasted several years (and) triggered huge anger that had never been there from the Chinese people towards Canada and has not yet been left in oblivion," Dai said.
"This time, the Liberals are yielding to partisan political pressure from the Conservatives, which spotted a convenient opportunity to gain political advantage by using Chong's false claim with no evidence," he said. "These people do not know what they are doing: For their own petty political gain, they are further damaging our traditional good relations with China, and more dangerously, drawing Canada and Canadians into a big war (in which) Canada should have no part."
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David Choi, co-chair of the National Congress of Chinese Canadians told China Daily: "Canadian business and jobs have been hurt due to the strained relations. Last May, China lifted a ban on imports of canola, Canada's largest crop. … We don't want to see the tensions intensified as better relations benefit both sides."
Guan Jianhong, an agent at Harmony Legal Service, said "the Conservative Party's Michael Chong accusation is groundless. It is a desperate move by the Liberals under pressure from the Conservatives, but also a foolish one." Guan said he expects China to "definitely" reciprocate.