China’s consul general in Vancouver has accused Canada of “brutal interference” in Chinese internal affairs by imposing sanctions in response to the new national security law in Hong Kong.
Tong Xiaoling, who was posted in Hong Kong before being transferred to Vancouver in 2017, said western countries including Canada and the US had “slandered” the law, and were trying to ruin Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
“[It] has to be pointed out that Canada has taken part in this. So these countries’ wrongful comments and actions violate international laws and the standards for international relations; it is also a form of brutal interference with Hong Kong and Chinese internal affairs,” Tong said in an interview with Vancouver’s Chinese-language AM1320 radio.
She added: “[Any] intent and conspiracy to prevent China from implementing the national security law is useless. We hope Canada will not go further down on this wrongful path, and will stop damaging the Canada-China interests.”
Tong’s remarks were broadcast in news bulletins on Monday and in a longer interview on Tuesday.
Alliance Canada HK (ACHK), an activist group which opposes the national security law and has supported the Hong Kong protest movement, said Tong’s comments were “part of the larger campaign to influence and coerce Chinese communities in Canada to comply with the wishes of the Chinese government”.
Tong, who had served as deputy commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong from 2014 to 2017, told AM1320: “No matter how external forces or other countries gesticulate and make random remarks at Hong Kong’s national security law, or even increase pressure and impose sanctions, it will not shake the Chinese government’s strong will to protect the country’s sovereignty and safety, and maintain Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.”
The new law criminalises acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign and external forces to jeopardise national security. They carry maximum sentences of life in prison, although minor offences are to carry sentences of up to three years.
The law has been cited by police in a range of situations, including the arrests of four activists, aged 16-21, from the Studentlocalism group on Wednesday night. “They were suspected of secession by advocating #HKIndependence,” the Hong Kong Police Force tweeted.
Canada responded to the introduction of the national security law by suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. It also banned the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, and updated a travel advisory to warn of the risk of “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in Hong Kong.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on July 3 that Canada was considering further measures against the national security laws, including “around immigration”.
Britain responded to the security laws by offering a pathway to citizenship for about 3 million Hongkongers who hold British National (Overseas) passports or previously held the travel document.
But Tong said that the national security law was in Canada’s interests.
“Actually, investors from various countries including Canada will have their lawful rights in Hong Kong protected in a more efficient way [because of the law],” she said.
There are about 300,000 Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong, most of them former immigrants, who have returned to the city, and their children.
In her interview Tong said the current low point in Canada-China relations could be attributed to the treatment of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver in 2018 and is battling a US attempt to have her extradited to face fraud charges in New York, which she denies.
Tong said the Green Party of Canada had been correct in a July 14 statement that called for Canada to demand that the United States drop the case against Meng, so that Canada can release her.
“The Trump administration duped Canada into arresting Meng for political advantage,” the party had said.
Neither China’s consulate in Vancouver nor its embassy in Ottawa had responded to requests for comment about Tong’s remarks at the time of publication.
ACHK said in a press release that Tong had tried to call out Canadian politicians “for meddling in Chinese affairs, while attempting to censor criticism of the CCP’s tyrannical national security law in Hong Kong”.
“Aiming to unify all ethnic Chinese groups under the Chinese regime, the CCP has promoted the image of a unified Chinese community in the face of persecution from a foreign government to advance their own state interests and goals,” ACHK said.
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