Canada and China Expel Diplomats in Mutual Retaliation

Canada and China Expel Diplomats in Mutual Retaliation

The Lede: China and Canada have each expelled a diplomat amid deteriorating relations and growing concerns in Canada over Chinese influence

What We Know:

  • China expelled Canadian diplomat Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, a consul of the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai, the day after Canada announced the expulsion of Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei over allegations of intimidation against a Canadian politician.
  • In 2021, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) accused the Chinese diplomat of attempting to intimidate lawmaker Michael Chong and his family. Chong has been critical of China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority group in the Xinjiang Province. (China’s consulate-general in Toronto issued a statement saying the CSIS report has “no factual basis and is purely baseless.”)

The Background: The targeting of Chong and his family occurred around the time that Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive for the Chinese tech company Huawei in 2018. China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, in China after that incident. They were released the same day Meng was allowed to return to China in 2021. In recent years, Canada has suspected China of engaging in political interference and influence and intimidation activities against the Chinese diaspora in Canada. Several Canadian political figures have been sanctioned by China over Western measures regarding the treatment of the Uyghur minority group in Xinjiang.

Likely Outcomes:

  • Canada’s relations with China will continue to deteriorate as each country responds to corresponding retaliatory measures. China will likely take action in an economic or trade-related area that will signal its dissatisfaction. This may be the start of a larger rift between the two countries that neither side seems willing to walk back from in the near term. China will be displeased either because of accusations of nefarious activities in Canada or because of the revelation of those activities. Canadian officials will continue to respond to the allegations of Chinese interference in the country while remaining vigilant on issues regarding Xinjiang as well as the geopolitical tensions over Taiwan.
  • Canada will most likely remain firmly on the side of the U.S. and Western countries standing in opposition to China. If measures are taken by either side in the tech and semiconductor industry, Canada will likely shift further into the U.S. camp on trade restrictions.


“We will take whatever action is necessary to continue to protect our democracy and show that we’re standing up for our values and our principles. We understand there is retaliation but we will not be intimidated.” – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“Like many Canadians, I have family abroad. The PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) targeting of family abroad to intimidate and coerce Canadians here at home is a serious, national threat.” – Michael Chong, conservative member of parliament in Canada

"We have to reassure Canadians of Chinese origin that if they are intimidated or harassed by Chinese officials, that if they report their problem, that we will take serious action.” – Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China

Good Reads:

Canadian diplomat expelled from China in tit–for-tat measure (CNN)

Trudeau says expulsion of Chinese diplomat shows Canada 'will not be intimidated' (CBC)