A top Chinese diplomat on Thursday warned Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, adding that doing so could jeopardize the “health and safety” of Canadians living in the southern Chinese financial hub.
The remarks by Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu (叢培武) prompted a rebuke from Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne, further escalating tensions between the countries.
Cong was responding to reports that a Hong Kong couple who took part in last year’s huge and sometimes violent protests had been granted refugee status.
The landmark decision makes it likely that other Hong Kongers would be given sanctuary in Canada, which has emerged as a top destination for those fleeing Beijing’s crackdown.
“We strongly urge the Canadian side not [to] grant so-called political asylum to those violent criminals in Hong Kong because it is the interference in China’s domestic affairs. And certainly, it will embolden those violent criminals,” Cong told a news conference.
“So 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 [Special Administrative Region], you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes,” Cong said.
When asked by reporters if that latter comment was a threat, Cong said: “That’s your interpretation.”
Champagne described Cong’s comments as “totally unacceptable and disturbing.”
“I have instructed Global Affairs to call the ambassador in to make clear in no uncertain terms that Canada will always stand up for human rights and the rights of Canadians around the world,” he said in a statement carried by the Globe and Mail and other Canadian news outlets.
China and Canada are marking 50 years since they forged diplomatic ties — but those relations are deeply strained.
Ties plummeted following Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and daughter of its founder.
Meng was arrested on a US warrant in December 2018 during a stopover in Vancouver and is charged with bank fraud related to breaches of US sanctions against Iran. She has been fighting extradition ever since.
Canadian former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in China on spying charges soon afterward, disappearing into Beijing’s opaque judicial system.
Western governments see the detention of the Canadians as direct retaliation by Beijing.
On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit out at Beijing for what he said was its “coercive diplomacy,” as well as the ongoing crackdowns in Hong Kong and on Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Cong rejected Trudeau’s comments, saying: “There is no coercive diplomacy on the Chinese side.”
“The Hong Kong issue and the Xinjiang-related issue are not about the issue of human rights. They are purely about internal affairs of China, which brooks no interference from the outside,” he added.
EXTENSION: The route chosen by the transport ministry was the longest of three options, and the most expensive, but it would ensure clean water for greater Taipei The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday finalized route for a Taiwan High Speed Rail line to Yilan County, which avoids the Feitsui Water Reservoir’s (翡翠水庫) watershed, a source within the ministry said. The ministry originally had three proposals for the Taipei-Yilan section of the railway, two of which were shorter, but crossed the watershed, while the ministry-proposed route, although longer, completely avoids it. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) approved the ministry’s decision yesterday after being briefed on the issue at a meeting and is expected to announce the plan in Yilan in the coming days. While the chosen route is the most expensive
ATTACK UNLIKELY: China would become ‘pariahs internationally for just the wanton destruction of Taiwan’ and would have little to gain from it, Trump’s security adviser said A top White House official on Friday urged Taiwan to build up its military capabilities to protect against a possible invasion by China, saying that Beijing would have that ability in 10 to 15 years. US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told the Aspen Security Forum that a missile attack by China against Taiwan would be much too destructive. An amphibious attack is a possibility, although at the moment it is beyond China’s capability, he said. However, China could combine that threat with “gray zone” operations, embargoes, harassment and other actions to intimidate the nation if Taipei does not build
REGISTRATION ROW: The online marketplace stopped taking new orders before noon yesterday and said that it would help sellers complete their deals before going offline E-commerce site Taobao Taiwan (淘寶台灣) yesterday announced that it would leave the Taiwanese market at the end of this year, after being told by the Investment Commission to register as a Chinese entity. It made the “tough decision” to leave Taiwan, effective Jan. 1 next year, due to “market uncertainties” and was in talks with its employees over a redundancy scheme, the company said in a statement. It would also help sellers on its site complete their outstanding deals to protect their rights and those of the buyers, it said. The company said that it had decided to stop taking new orders before
UNFOUNDED CLAIMS: Hong Kong air traffic controllers told a Taiwanese aircraft to leave due to ‘dangerous activities,’ but the military said it found no reason for the claim Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) yesterday called on Beijing to respect international aviation rules and refrain from undermining air travel after Hong Kong air traffic controllers on Thursday morning warned off a Taiwanese flight. A military chartered supply flight operated by Uni Air (立榮航空) from Kaohsiung to the Taipei-controlled Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) in the South China Sea was forced to turn back on its way to the disputed islands, where 250 Taiwanese coast guard personnel are deployed, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said. Hong Kong air traffic controllers denied the Uni Air ATR2-600 aircraft authorization to enter the