Chinese interference: difficult to expel diplomats, says Mélanie Joly

Chinese interference: difficult to expel diplomats, says Mélanie Joly

Chinese interference : difficult to expel diplomats, says Mélanie Joly

Justin Tang The Canadian Press Mélanie Joly pointed out that she and her senior officials had repeatedly voiced their dissatisfaction with the Chinese authorities.

Canada may not have expelled Chinese diplomats in connection with Beijing's attempts to interfere in the federal election, but it is taking other steps to make its displeasure known, says Mélanie Joly. Its foreign ministry notably refused a request for a diplomatic visa from China last fall. An easier gesture than dismissing diplomats who are already on Canadian soil, explained the minister in a parliamentary committee on Thursday.

“We can prevent rather than cure,” argued Mélanie Joly, acknowledging the limits of diplomatic reprisals against representatives of the Chinese regime in Canada.

Asked repeatedly by Conservative MPs, who asked why no Chinese diplomat had yet had their credentials withdrawn, Ms Joly suggested that it was for lack of concrete evidence. “If we have any form of hard evidence of wrongdoing, we're going to send diplomats home very, very, very quickly,” she stressed.

National security experts have repeatedly time pointed out that secret intelligence could very rarely be converted into evidence.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, refused a request for a diplomatic visa to China, confirmed Minister Joly. The news was reported by the Globe and Mail, which spoke of a position deemed by Ottawa to be non-diplomatic, but rather “likely intended for the management of covert political activity and interference”.

A single visa was reportedly denied to this day. There has been a higher “level of awareness” in the department in recent months, which means that these requests are considered more carefully, the minister explained. /h2>

Mélanie Joly also pointed out that she and her senior officials had repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction to the Chinese authorities. The Chinese ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, has been summoned more than once by Foreign Affairs. In particular on February 24, in order to specifically discuss foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections following the revelations of the Globe and Mail in this sense, reported a senior official of the Canadian ministry. .

Representations to the Chinese regime have also been made by the Canadian Ambassador to Beijing, and Minister Joly challenged her counterpart Qin Gang at the G20 last week.

Tory MP Michael Cooper appeared to mock the minister about it. “You have spoken firmly with your counterpart, as you say. You even looked him in the eye. I'm sure he must have been very intimidated,” he said, over a tense and cacophonous committee meeting. A comment that was immediately denounced by the minister herself, her fellow Liberal MPs on the committee, as well as New Democrat Rachel Blaney, who called it “shameful”.

Ms. not having been informed from the outset of the concerns of foreign interference by the Canadian intelligence services. She has since asked them to be kept informed in order to “conduct diplomatic relations properly”.

Chinese police stations

In the morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had indicated that the presence of Chinese police stations on Canadian soil – particularly in the Quebec metropolis, revealed Le Journal de Montréal on Thursday – “concerns him enormously”.

“We're making sure the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] are following up on this and that our intelligence systems are taking this seriously,” he added. .

The RCMP confirmed Thursday that Quebec's Integrated National Security Team has opened investigations into two suspected Chinese police stations in Montreal and Brossard. Federal police also investigated three other such centers in Toronto, as well as another in Vancouver. These have since been closed, its assistant commissioner, Michael Duheme, told a parliamentary committee last week.

These “police stations” are suspected of carrying out, under the cover of Chinese nationals, activities aimed at intimidating and persuading them to return to China to face criminal proceedings.

On Thursday, Justin Trudeau was once again called upon by opposition parties to Commons to order a public inquiry into Chinese interference in Canada. “Who is going to stand up in this government to talk to the Prime Minister, make him listen to reason and tell him that it takes the appointment of a commissioner for an independent and […] immediate public inquiry? Who will dare to stand up to speak to him? ended up launching the Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet.