China says fears of insect infestation behind barring of Canadian canola

Marco Green
March 6, 2019

The Chinese ban on Canadian canola is reasonable since it was imposed out of safety concerns when risky organisms were detected in the imported product, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday.

Canada exported more than US$3.75 billion worth of canola past year, with nearly half of it, or about five million tonnes, going to China, according to industry figures.

Some saw that as retaliation for Canada's arrest of a top executive for the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

On March 1, Beijing revoked the license of Canada's largest agricultural handler, Winnipeg-based Richardson International, to ship canola to China, which puts Canadian farmers at risk of a glut.

The U.S. Department of Justice has laid out 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Huawei and Meng, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

"I can reliably state that this decision of the Chinese government is absolutely supported by facts".

The US alleges that Meng violated Iran sanctions and lied about it to American banks, and the case has become a major headache for Canada.

This action is most likely in response to the USA decision to ban federal agencies from using the company's products after it was accused of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile, which both China and Huawai denied by claiming there is no evidence any laws were broken. It 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 unsafe separatist by Beijing. She said the agency had not identified any pests or bacteria of concern.

A Canadian grain industry source with knowledge of the matter confirmed Richardson's exports of canola to China had been halted.

China's move hits a vital crop for western Canada, and comes after canola prices have already been hit by China's retaliatory tariffs on USA agricultural exports.

Beijing has warned of serious consequences if Meng is not released.

As the diplomatic dispute between China and Canada intensified, Beijing has detained two Canadians working in China, and on Monday accused one of them of stealing Chinese state secrets passed on to him by the other.

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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