The tension between Canada and China grows: the recent episodes that unleashed a strong diplomatic crisis

Tension grows between Canada and China (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration) (DADO RUVIC/)

Tensions between China and the West have been brewing for years. The parties no longer hide their pronounced differences, each working to counter the influence of the other. Although the United States is Beijing’s main geopolitical adversary, it is not the only nation standing up to Chinese supremacist appetites. Canadaa historical partner and ally of Washington, is also on the list of nations that warn about the danger posed by Chinese growth at a global level.

Since 2018, relations between China and Canada have been at one of the worst moments in their history.

On December 1 of that year meng wanzhou, daughter of the founder of the Chinese technology company Huawei, was detained during a stopover in Vancouver. The case sparked a deep diplomatic crisis between Canada, China and the United States.

Meng Wanzhou, a former Huawei executive, spent three years in house arrest in Canada for bank fraud (REUTERS/David Kirton)
Meng Wanzhou, a former Huawei executive, spent three years in house arrest in Canada for bank fraud (REUTERS / David Kirton) (DAVID KIRTON /)

The Chinese executive had been arrested by an international order, accused of bank and electronic fraud, in response to a request from the United States, which also requested her extradition from the Canadian justice system.

Meng, who served as Huawei’s chief financial officer, was accused by the United States of lied to HSBC bank about the technology giant’s relationship with Skycoma company accused of negotiating with Iran to sell it communication equipment, violating the international sanctions that weigh on the theocratic regime.

She paid a million-dollar bail to avoid being extradited to the United States, but had to serve three years of house arrest in Canada. After serving her sentence in 2021, she returned to China.

Meng Wanzhou after a court hearing in Canada (REUTERS / Taehoon Kim)
Meng Wanzhou after a court hearing in Canada (REUTERS/Taehoon Kim) (TAE HOON KIM/)

The case was closed after reaching an agreement with the US Department of Justice, in which it acknowledged having incurred in irregularities in its statements to the HSBC bank. The US Attorney’s office later dropped the charges.

But the case left scars and absolutely decimated relations between China and Canada.

The temperature rose again last year after Canadian intelligence sources informed Justin Trudeau’s government about the Xi Jinping regime’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 election campaigns. infiltrating Chinese advisers for the campaigns of some candidates, while making donations to the campaign offices of several deputies.

After analyzing the intelligence information, Trudeau accused the Chinese regime of “aggressively interfering” in Canada’s electoral processes: “We took significant steps to strengthen the integrity of our electoral processes and we will continue to invest in the fight against interference, against foreign interference in our democracy and institutions (…) Unfortunately we see how some countries and state actors, whether China or others, continue to play aggressively with our democracies.

China, however, denied such accusations.

The issue was raised in November last year during a private meeting between Trudeau and Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali. The first face-to-face dialogue between the two leaders since 2019. The Canadian prime minister told the press that he had discussed the issue with the Chinese president. However, this annoyed the leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and there was a tense – and unusual – exchange during the summit on the Asian island.

The moment was recorded by the journalists who were covering the forum. Xi Jinping, through a translator, told Trudeau that he was inappropriate and accused him of lacking “sincerity.” “Everything we have discussed has been leaked to the newspapers and that is not appropriate”the Chinese president told his counterpart in Mandarin.

After listening carefully, Trudeau replied: “In Canada we believe in a frank and open dialogue and that is what we will continue to have. We will continue to look to work constructively together, but there will be things we will disagree on.”

Xi interrupted him, telling him to “create the conditions” first. Immediately afterwards, she gave him her hand and withdrew.

Since that tense situation, almost six months have passed, and China and Canada are once again at the center of the international scene.

This week the Trudeau government expelled the Chinese diplomat in Ottawa, Zhao Wei, for allegedly interfering in the internal affairs of the North American country.

The authorities took this measure following allegations that Chinese intelligence services had planned to sanction the deputy. michael chong and to their relatives in Hong Kong for leading a motion condemning the human rights violations perpetrated by China in the Xinjiang region against the Uyghur minority, which it describes as genocide.

Canadian media reported that intelligence found Zhao was involved in the attempt to locate Chong’s relatives who are believed to be living in Hong Kong.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin (EFE/EPA/WU HONG)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin (EFE/EPA/WU HONG) (EFEM0353/)

The response from Beijing was immediate, and this Tuesday it announced that it will expel the Canadian consul from the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the Canadian diplomat jennifer lynn lalon of “persona non grata” and gave him a period of five days to leave the country.

The Foreign Ministry of the Asian giant also warned that it reserves the right to take other measures.

For its part, the Canadian Mounted Police recently reported that is “actively investigating” the alleged existence in the country of Chinese “Police Stations”used by undercover agents to monitor all movements of Chinese Canadian citizens: “This or any other type of intimidation, harassment or attack of diaspora communities or individuals in Canada will not be tolerated.”

These latest cases further hurt the already weakened diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ottawa. It is unclear what the next steps for the two parties will be. For now, at the end of the month Trudeau will receive a recommendation from a special rapporteur on whether allegations of Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections warrant a public inquiry.

The Canadian prime minister announced that, regardless of the upcoming decisions, his government will not allow itself to be “intimidated” by China. “We decided that we had to move responsibly to send a very clear message that we will not accept foreign interference and that, whatever the next decisions they make, we will not be intimidated,” he declared after Beijing accused his government of trying to to “sabotage” bilateral relations.

Keep reading:

China expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai, giving her five days to leave the country

Canada expelled a Chinese diplomat who intimidated a lawmaker who had criticized Beijing

Justin Trudeau responded to China after the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat: “We will not be intimidated”