(CNN) Canada decided to expel a Chinese diplomat on Monday, following an uproar in the country over allegations of political interference that Beijing vehemently denies.
“Canada has decided to declassify Mr. Zhao Wei,” read a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Jolie.
“We will not tolerate foreign interference in our internal affairs. Ambassadors in Canada have been warned that they will be sent home if they engage in such behaviour.”
The message is as follows Weeks of turmoil in Canada The Globe and Mail newspaper first reported that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service found that an accredited Chinese diplomat in China targeted opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives following his criticism of Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur minority.
The intelligence also said Beijing tried to sway the outcome of Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
Chong has repeatedly called for Zhao’s ouster since the Globe report came out.
Beijing has denied allegations of political interference in Canada. A statement from the Chinese embassy in Canada on Monday condemned the diplomat’s expulsion and warned of “consequences.”
“It seriously violates the basic norms of international law and international relations, seriously violates relevant bilateral agreements between China and Canada, and deliberately undermines China-Canada relations,” the Chinese embassy in Canada said in a statement.
“China strongly condemns and firmly opposes it and has lodged a solemn representation with Canada. China will resolutely take countermeasures, and Canada will bear all the consequences.”
The statement added, “China will never interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Claims of ‘Chinese interference in Canada’s internal affairs’ are baseless.”
The allegations have become a growing political problem for the government Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeauwho said he had not been briefed by intelligence agencies on Chong’s alleged target.
Chong has focused much of his criticism on Trudeau’s government, which he says has been too slow to act.
Last week, Jolie previewed the possibility of retaliation against China, but warned that Canada should carefully weigh how China might react.
Reporting by Shan Deng in Toronto.