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

Inspirational Parksville youngster Kaiden Finley dies after cancer battle

‘He was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Development cost charges considered to fund regional parks

DCCs to assist in funding land acquisitions and development

Parksville powerlifter qualifies for world championships

Buhler sets personal bests in both raw and equipped lifting events

Wires left dangling after van crashes into hydro pole in Dashwood

Road closed while BC Hydro crews dealt with situation

Police go on hunt for distracted drivers in Parksville Qualicum Beach

One motorist ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and using a cellphone while driving

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

Vancouver Island home to B.C.’s luckiest lotto store

Five million-dollar winners have bought tickets from same Port Alberni corner store

Video of ‘brutal, shocking and chilling execution’ opens Vancouver Island murder hearing

Sentencing underway for Brandon Woody after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in Nanaimo

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

SPCA seizes 54 animals from Vernon property

Animals weren’t receiving adequate care

Most Read