Canada, China Escalate Diplomatic Row

    Canada, China Escalate Diplomatic Row
    Last updated May 09, 2023
    Image credit: Wall Street Journal


    • On Tuesday, China escalated diplomatic tensions with Canada by classifying Shanghai-based consul Jennifer Lynn Lalonde as a "persona non grata," demanding she leaves China by May 13.[1]
    • This comes as, on Monday, Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei was also declared "persona non grata" and ordered to leave Canada following reports that he helped to harass and gather information about Canadian Conservative lawmaker Michael Chong.[2]
    • Beijing also issued an official statement that characterized Ottowa's diplomatic move as a violation of international laws and norms, and an escalation that could jeopardize PRC-Canada relations.[3]
    • This marks the first time in five years that a foreign representative has been declared unwelcome and expelled from Canada. The right of a receiving state to prompt a member of a diplomatic mission to leave the country at any time without any explanation is under the 1961 UN Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.[4]
    • The decision to expel the diplomat also comes days after Canada's foreign minister, Melanie Joly, summoned the Chinese ambassador, Cong Peiwu, to assert that Ottawa would not tolerate foreign interference as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service believes that Zhao has targeted Chong.[5]
    • For months, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has been criticized for its treatment of claims that the Chinese Communist Party attempted to interfere in the 2021 national elections, forcing him to reverse his views on Beijing and vow new measures to curb interference in Canada's Chinese diaspora.[6]


    Anti-China narrative

    The Canadian government has carefully assessed the options to retaliate against allegations that Chinese diplomats had threatened a minister of parliament, anticipating potential Chinese backlash and the risks to the safety of the people and the prosperity of the country. The expulsion of Zhao Wei is the right measure to punish Beijing as it will not prompt harsher consequences for Canada. Some have said Trudeau hasn't gone far enough, but this was a calculated diplomatic move against aggressive PRC meddling.

    Pro-China narrative

    Ottawa has dangerously and recklessly become more confrontational towards Beijing due to domestic political infighting, undermining bilateral relations, and promoting fabricated claims to smear China. Beijing has never meddled in the internal affairs of other countries, and its diplomatic and consular personnel have always complied with international conventions and bilateral agreements. Canada must work hard to return to international norms for Beijing to restore its trust.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that The Economist will rank China as a democracy in the Democracy Index by July 2094, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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