Canada alleged Zhao was part of a campaign to pressure Conservative MP Michael Chong and his extended family that lives in Hong Kong.
Chong has taken strong anti-People’s Republic of China (PRC) stances, including sponsoring a motion to declare China’s alleged abuses against its minority Uyghur Muslim population as genocide.The move to expel Zhao came days after Canadian media cited Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) documents that alleged the PRC had been working behind the scenes against Conservative candidates in elections and promoting Liberal party candidates.The head of the CSIS reportedly told Chong after his vote on the Uyghur issue that he and his family were being targeted. After the report’s publication, Chong said he was unaware of any attempts to influence him, but noted he was hit with sanctions by China in 2021 after sponsoring the resolution.Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said additional Chinese diplomats could be expelled if such actions continue. “We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs,” Joly said in a statement.Chinese spokesperson Wang Wenbin, during his daily news conference, commented that accusations that China attempts to influence Canada’s internal affairs are “ideology- and politically driven manipulation designed to slander and denigrate China.”He added that China reserves the right to take further action, and that the move was a “reciprocal countermeasure.” He didn’t give an answer when asked why Lalonde was specifically picked to be expelled.Commenting on the CSIS report, Wang told reporters the findings were part of an attempt to “smear the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Canada.”“None of the accusations are based on facts,” Wang said. “They are trumped up with [a] hidden agenda.”