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

Tourism Fernie hosts annual general meeting

Last Thursday, Tourism Fernie held its annual general meeting, which was well… Continue reading

Timber Chair to undergo makeover

A popular chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) will run more smoothly… Continue reading

Fernie public works yard set for complete overhaul

City of Fernie considers $5m overhaul of aging public works buildings; awards design contract

Teck to compensate Sparwood residents for dust

House cleaning among mitigation measures pitched by focus group; plus former Mayor joins SCEEAC

Delays dash hopes of Fernie curling season

Leaky floor fix takes longer than expected; City offers to extend ice plant operation for bonspiel

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Fernie Ghostriders host annual banquet, present player awards

MVP of the season was awarded to Brendan Nemes

Elk Valley swimmers set records at provincials

Five senior athletes from the Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club qualified for the Kamloops competition

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

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

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

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

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

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

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’

Most Read