Chinese diplomat warns Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong democracy protesters

A preview flight carrying around 110 passengers circled Hong Kong and returned 90 minutes later

A preview flight carrying around 110 passengers circled Hong Kong and returned 90 minutes later

On Thursday, the Chinese ambassador to Canada warned Ottawa against granting asylum to Hong Kong residents fleeing the situation, saying it amounts to interfering in its internal affairs.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen, was arrested in Vancouver in late 2018 on a bank fraud warrant issued by USA authorities.

Asked about Cong's remarks which were interpreted as a warning by Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that, "the Chinese embassy in Canada just made clear our just position on issues relating to Hong Kong".

"If the Canadian side really cares about stability and 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 ... you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes", Mr Cong said.

"There's no coercive diplomacy on the Chinese side", Cong Peiwu, China's envoy to Ottawa, said in a video news conference on Twitter.

China and Canada are marking 50 years since they forged diplomatic ties - but those relations are deeply strained. Meng, who is now facing trial in the case, is also the daughter of Chinese telecom giant Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

Trudeau has said that China is engaging in coercive diplomacy by imprisoning two Canadian men in retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese high-tech executive on an American extradition warrant.

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"If the US insists on going its own way, China will take resolute countermeasures to safeguard national sovereignty and security interests, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and related personnel", Zhao said.

She is now fighting her extradition to the USA, where she faces fraud charges, in court.

Mr Trudeau's government has faced mounting pressure to fix relations with Beijing, almost two years after the arrest of Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman.

Cong rejected Trudeau's comments at his Thursday press conference.

"Through the imposition of the National Security Law, the (Communist Party of China) has crippled democratic institutions, human rights, judicial independence, and individual freedoms in Hong Kong", State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement accompanying the sanctions announcement.

The law outlaws subversive, secessionist, and terrorist activity, as well as collusion with foreign powers to interfere in the city's internal affairs. "And I would like to point out, there is no coercive diplomacy on the Chinese side", Cong said.

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