Canada’s foreign minister said Thursday the country is considering the expulsion of Chinese diplomats over an intelligence agency report that one of them planned to intimidate Hong Kong relatives of a Canadian lawmaker.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said her department has summoned the Chinese ambassador to a meeting to stress that Canada will not tolerate such interference.

She said the intelligence agency report indicated conservative opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his Hong Kong relatives were targeted after Chong criticized Beijing’s human rights record.

“We are evaluating different options, including the expulsion of diplomats,” Joly told a parliamentary committee.

Canada’s spy agency has not released the details. Chong has said the report identifies a Toronto-based diplomat as part of the plot. Chong has criticized Beijing’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province.

“I can’t imagine the shock and concern of learning that your loved ones have been targeted in this way,” Joly told Chong at the committee hearing. «There will be consequences.»

Chong said the diplomat should be on the first plane out of Canada.

“It is inexplicable that this diplomat has not already been told to leave the country,” he said.

“If we don’t take this course of action, we are basically putting up a giant billboard for every authoritarian state in the world that says we are open to foreign interference directed at Canadian citizens. That is why this individual should be sent packing.»

The Chinese ambassador, Cong Peiwu, denied the interference in a statement and warned against expelling his diplomats.

“Once again, China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately stop this self-directed political charade and not continue down the wrong and dangerous path. If the Canadian side continues to make provocations, China will play along every step of the way to the end,» Cong said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that he did not learn of the spy agency’s report until a Globe and Mail article on Monday, citing top-secret documents, said the spy agency had the intelligence. But Chong told Parliament that Canada’s national security adviser informed him that the 2021 report was sent to various parts of the government, including the national security adviser at the time.

Trudeau has ordered Canada’s intelligence agencies to immediately inform lawmakers of any threats against them, regardless of whether those threats are deemed credible.

Canada’s spy agency did not tell Chong about the attack on his family until this week.

Many governments, the United Nations and human rights groups accuse China of taking a million or more people from its Uyghur community and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups to detention camps, where many have said they were tortured, sexually assaulted and forced to leave. their language and religion. China denies the allegations, which are based on evidence including interviews with survivors and photos and satellite images of the Uyghurs’ home province of Xinjiang, a major hub for factories and farms in China’s far west.

Last month, Trudeau appointed a former governor-general as a special investigator to investigate allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s last two elections. David Johnston will decide whether a public inquiry is needed and Trudeau has said he will comply with the recommendations.

The Globe and Mail, citing unnamed intelligence sources, reported that China preferred to see Trudeau’s liberals re-elected in the 2021 election and worked to defeat conservative politicians seen as hostile to Beijing.

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