(OTTAWA) Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has reportedly confronted her Chinese counterpart over allegations that Beijing envoys may be interfering in Canadian politics.
Mme Joly spoke this week with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang at the G20 ministerial meeting in New Delhi. The Canadian minister would have signified to her Chinese counterpart that Canada would not accept Beijing interfering with Canadian democracy.
“Canada will never tolerate [une] any form of foreign interference in our democracy and internal affairs by China,” Ms.me Joly, according to an account his firm posted on Twitter on Friday, after the media brought up the conversation.
“We will never accept [une] any attack on our territorial integrity and our sovereignty. We will never accept [une] any violation by Chinese diplomats of the Vienna Convention on Canadian soil,” the Canadian minister reportedly told her Chinese counterpart.
“Allegations not credible”, says Beijing
The Liberal government has been under pressure for the past few weeks to explain what it is doing about alleged foreign interference in the last two federal elections, in 2019 and 2021. Alleged instances of interference have come to light in recent news reports based on leaks from security sources.
Canadian officials who were in New Delhi during the exchange said Mr.me Joly had approached Mr. Qin and that their discussion had lasted about twenty minutes.
Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Minister Qin had reprimanded Mr.me Joly for not condemning the reports of Global News and the Globe and Mail on the interference.
Chinese state media reports that Mr. Qin had told Mr.me Joly that these allegations were not credible and that she should not allow “rumours” to derail the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
According to the office of the Canadian minister, Ms.me Joly told his counterpart Qin that Ottawa will not allow Chinese diplomats to violate international agreements that prevent envoys from interfering in the politics of the state where they are stationed.
In his statement, Mr.me Joly says she was “direct, firm and unequivocal” in her remarks, based on the Indo-Pacific Strategy the Liberals released last fall. This new strategy plans to forge ties with other countries to counterbalance the growing influence of China.
Mme Joly said in his statement that this was their first conversation since Mr. Qin was appointed to the post last December, and that the two ministers had agreed to “keep the channels of communication open”. Minister Joly had already discussed with Mr. Qin’s predecessor last November, during the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia.
This week’s conversation took place on the sidelines of the meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing countries. The ministerial meeting ended Thursday without consensus on the war in Ukraine.
According to a report of Thursday’s meeting released by India, G20 members China and Russia objected to two paragraphs taken from the previous Bali summit declaration.
These two paragraphs stated that the war in Ukraine was causing immense human suffering while exacerbating the fragilities of the world economy. It also recalled the need to enforce international law and reiterated that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons” was “inadmissible”.
M’s officeme Joly said that during the closed-door meetings, she berated Russia for its invasion and the chaos it had wrought in global food and energy supply chains — amounting to an “all-out attack on people.” most vulnerable people in the world”.
According to his office, Mr.me Joly called on his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to “stop holding the world’s most vulnerable hostages”.