The war of words between China and Canada has escalated this week,
The tension between the two was ignited by the 2018 detention in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request, and subsequent arrest and imprisonment of two Canadians in China on alleged espionage charges.
This week Canada’s ambassador to the U.N. publicly rebuked China regarding their claim Canada was attempting to bully the country, noting that Canada will ‘never forget” China’s imprisonment of the two Canadians in harsh conditions, and that ‘insulting’ Canada will not resolve the situation.
Then on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned the detention of the two Canadians saying Canada would work with others to ensure China’s ‘coercive diplomacy’ would not be successful.
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry then quickly shot back stating, “we firmly deplore and oppose the Canadian side deliberately confusing right and wrong and once again making erroneous comment and we have lodged stern representations”
Now China’s ambassador to Canada has made another strong rebuke which some have interpreted as being much more than a rebuke, and which has raised concerns about the safety of the some 300,000 people in Hong Kong with Canadian passports.
- RCI: Oct 14/20: China slams Canada over Trudeau’s ‘coercive diplomacy’ remarks
- RCI: Oct 13/20: Finally a consular visit to Canadians imprisoned by China
- RCI: Oct 7/10: Canada may be accepting Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters as refugees
Recently Canada had granted asylum to two Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and appears that others may be granted the same considerations as ‘convention refugees’ under the U.N. reference.
Many Hong Kong activists are said to have fled abroad to avoid the Chinese imposition of its new wide ranging ‘security’ law in the former British colony that criminalises any form of dissent with harsh penalties up to life in prison.
.The Globe and Mail reports there are 45 other pro-democracy activists in Canada awaiting decisions on their asylum claims.
On Thursday, ambassador Cong Peiwu, urged Canada to stop the practice calling the activists ‘violent criminals’ and labeling the granting of asylum to them as interfering in Chinese internal affairs.
In a video conference from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa he further stated, “If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport-holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes”.
Asked if this was a threat, the ambassador quoted in the Globe and Mail said, “That’s your interpretation”.
He also said if Canada labeled China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority as ‘genocide’, there would be a ‘strong reaction’ stating that the Uyghurs live in harmony in China while reiterating that such matters are internal and that China would tolerate no outside interference.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne called Cong Peiwu’s statements, “inappropriate”.
Cherie Wong, executive director of Alliance Canada Hong Kong quoted by The Canadian Press called the ambassador’s statements a “direct threat’ to Canadians.
The current group of Hong Kong activists awaiting asylum decisions arrived in Canada prior to the March COVID restrictions on international travel. Many civil rights groups have called on Canada to relax the COVID travel restrictions to allow pro-democracy activists to fly to Canada to seek asylum. They are also calling on Canada to take a tougher stance on China and what they call human rights ‘abuses’ related to Hong Kong, Tibet, and the Muslim Uyghurs in China
additional information -sources
- Globe and Mail: Fife/Chase: Oct 15/20: Chinese envoy says Canada’s acceptance of Hong Kong refugees jeapardises Canadians in former colony
- Canadian Press (Global News): M.Blanchfield: Oct 15/20: China warns Canada not to accept Hong Kong protesters
- Chinese Embassy in Canada: Press statement Oct 15/20