China expels Canadian consul in Shanghai, one day after Ottawa orders Chinese diplomat out

China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it will expel a diplomat in Canada's Shanghai consulate as a reciprocal countermeasure, according to a statement on its website.

Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai, must leave by May 13

A row of alternating Chinese and Canadian flags.

China on Tuesday expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai in a tit-for-tat response after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave the country, escalating already tense bilateral relations amid concerns about Chinese influence in Canada.

Canada on Monday expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target the family of Conservative MP Michael Chong, who has been critical of China's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

"We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference," 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.

The Canadian Embassy in Beijing had no immediate comment on the expulsion order.

A woman in a dark blazer and white shirt poses in front of a wall, smiling with her arms crossed.

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, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, on spying charges. All three were freed in 2021.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) authored a report in 2021 about Chinese influence in Canada that included information about potential threats to Chong and his family.

Details of the CSIS report came to light on May 1, when The Globe and Mail reported that China sought information about Chong and his family in China in a likely effort to "make an example" of him and deter others from taking anti-Chinese government position.

An unnamed security source reportedly told The Globe that Zhao was allegedly working on efforts to target Chong's family in China.

WATCH | Chinese diplomat has up to 5 days to leave Canada:

Canada expels Chinese diplomat

7 hours ago

Duration 3:32

Canada has declared Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei 'persona non grata' after days of pressure from opposition parties. The diplomat has five days to leave Canada after being accused of targeting Conservative MP Michael Chong's family living in Hong Kong.

"It shouldn't have taken two years for the government to make this decision," Chong told reporters after the announcement.

China denies interference

China has said it has never interfered in Canada's internal affairs and has no interest in doing so. China's Toronto consulate-general said the report on Chong has "no factual basis and is purely baseless."

The Globe, citing an unnamed national security source, said Zhao was involved in gathering information about Chong, who has been a vocal critic of the Chinese government and had voted in favour of a House of Commons motion in 2021 calling Beijing's treatment of the Uyghur minority in China a genocide.

Chong said he was "profoundly disappointed" to find out about the potential threat to his family in Hong Kong from a newspaper, and criticized Trudeau's government for inaction. He repeatedly called for Zhao's expulsion since the Globe report.

Trudeau said he found out about the intelligence report from the newspaper, and on Wednesday blamed CSIS for not passing it on to him at the time.

Trudeau has previously said China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 votes, but that the efforts did not change the outcome. He has appointed an independent special investigator to probe the allegations.

with files from The Associated Press and CBC

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