Canada will continue to defend and save human rights in China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Friday. This move was taken up after a top Chinese diplomat warned Ottawa against welcoming Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.
On Thursday, China’s ambassador to Ottawa, Cong Peiwu warned Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong activists, which he said could have consequences for the “health and security” of 300,000 Canadians living in the theoretically autonomous Chinese territory.
According to the Canadian daily The Globe and Mail, Ottawa had recently granted asylum to a Hong Kong couple, which the Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied.
When asked about the Chinese ambassador’s comments Trudeau said that “We will stand up loudly and clearly for human rights; all around the world, whether it’s talking about the situation faced by the Uighurs whether it’s talking about the very concerning situation in Hong Kong; whether it’s calling out China for its coercive diplomacy.”
He added carefully highlighting that “We don’t look to escalate.”
In a sign of the rising tensions between the two countries; Canadians Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne; had earlier slammed the ambassador’s remarks as “totally unacceptable and disturbing”.
For his part, the new leader of the conservative opposition; Erin O’Toole, called on the Chinese diplomat “to fully retract his remarks and issue a public apology.”
He said, “Should the Ambassador fail to do so expeditiously, we expect the government to withdraw his credentials.”
If we look back for a while, then relations between China and Canada have been cold since December 2018 when Canada, acting on a US warrant, arrested the chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou. She was accused by Washington for violating US sanctions against Iran and pushing for her extradition.
Shortly after his arrest, China jailed a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig; and a Canadian businessman, Michael Spavor, on charges of spying; an act widely seen in western capitals as an act of reprisal by Beijing.
In August this year, a Chinese court in Guangzhou also sentenced; a Canadian national Xu Weihong to death for drug related charges. Canada also stepped up political; and diplomatic in Beijing.