Originally Published: 08 MAY 23 17:07 ET
By Paula Newton and Caitlin Hu, CNN
(CNN) — Canada decided to expelled a Chinese diplomat on Monday, 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.
The intelligence service also said that Beijing had tried to sway the outcome of Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
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, going on to accuse local media and politicians of seeking to “disrupt the normal exchange and cooperation” between Canada and China.
The allegations have become a growing political problem for the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has said that intelligence services failed to brief him on Chong’s alleged targeting.
Chong himself has focused much of his criticism on Trudeau’s government, which he says was too slow to act.
Last week, Joly previewed the possibility of retaliatory action against China, but warned that Canada needed to carefully weigh how China might react.
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