China cites pest concerns as the reason for a ban on Canadian canola

Many see measure as retaliation for arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

Bottles of Canola Harvest brand canola oil, manufactured by Canadian agribusiness firm Richardson International, are seen on the shelf of a grocery store in Beijing on March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

China’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that it is blocking some imports of Canadian canola due to fears of insect infestation, in what some suggest is just the latest swipe against the Canadian government for arresting a top Chinese tech executive.

At a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China suspended canola imports from a Canadian company “in accordance with laws and regulations and international practice.”

Lu cited “harmful organisms” he did not further identify as a threat, adding that China’s government “needs to protect the health and safety of its own people.”

READ MORE: China revokes Canadian canola permit as dispute escalates

“I can tell you responsibly that the Chinese government’s decision is definitely well-founded. Upon verification, China customs has recently detected dangerous pests in canola imported from Canada many times,” Lu said.

One of Canada’s largest grain processors, Richardson International Ltd., said Tuesday that China had revoked its permit to export canola there amid allegations of an infestation. Canada disputes that claim.

Many see the measure as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder.

Canada is proceeding with an extradition hearing for Meng following her December arrest at the request of the U.S., where she is wanted on fraud charges for allegedly misleading banks about the company’s dealings with Iran. Meng was set to return to British Columbia Supreme Court for a hearing Wednesday.

READ MORE: Huawei CFO suing Canada, its border agency and the RCMP

It wouldn’t be the first time Beijing has retaliated against nations that offend it. China suspended its bilateral trade deal with Norway and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

Britain and other countries were retaliated against over meetings with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, considered a dangerous separatist by Beijing.

Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency conducted investigations after China issued notices of non-compliance on canola seed imports, including nine since January. She said the agency had not identified any pests or bacteria of concern.

China receives about 40 per cent of Canada’s canola exports, and the revocation of Richardson’s permit hurts the entire value chain of industries involved in the market, the Canola Council of Canada has said.

READ MORE: Canada approves extradition for Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

Neil Townsend, senior market analyst at FarmLink, however, said he thinks there is a definite link to the Huawei case.

“There’s no doubt China’s mad at us,” he said.

Canola prices already have been hit by China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports. Further cutbacks on Chinese buying would deal a major blow to what is a lifeline for agriculture in western Canada.

“I am very concerned by what we’ve heard has happened to Richardson. We do not believe there’s any scientific basis for this,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday in Montreal. “We are working very, very hard with the Chinese government on this issue.”

China has warned of serious consequences if the Huawei executive is not released. China arrested two Canadians on Dec. 10 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada.

After Meng’s arrest, a Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier.

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Girl, 9, out of ICU after carbon monoxide poisoning in Shuswap tent

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada forecasts thunder, cloud and rain for one more day

Osprey nest in downtown Salmon Arm will remain until new year

The powerlines around the nest have been de-energized so the birds can stay until spring

A 64-year-old dies while mountain biking in Blind Bay

Shuswap Search and Rescue came assist first responders at the scene

City looks at extending public transit to evenings, Sundays

Salmon Arm council to consider expanding services, sharing costs with BC Transit

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Firefighter spring training comes to Lake Country

From LNG to breaking down doors, firefighters get training from industry pros

More than just a playground: Penticton’s Busy Beans Play Café to help parents and children

Owners Kim Wade and Tracey Wiseman want to use their expertise to help struggling families

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Okanagan woman celebrates 101 years young on the back of a Harley Davidson

Last Saturday Violet Madeline celebrated 101 years. A member of the Lower… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Lake Country joins celebration of local government professionals

The district joined communities across the province by planting a new tree

Most Read