Chinese-Canadian lawmaker denies allegations of ties to Beijing government, resigns from Liberal Party

Chinese-Canadian lawmaker, Han Dong

23rd March 2023 – (Ottawa) A Chinese-Canadian lawmaker, Han Dong, has announced his resignation from the Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, following unconfirmed media reports suggesting his ties to the Beijing government. Though denying these allegations, Han said he would sit as an independent in parliament as an independent investigation pursues the facts.

Trudeau last month denied a media report that the party had been warned by the country’s spy agency to drop Han Dong as a Liberal candidate ahead of the 2019 election because he had Beijing’s support. However, a new story by Global News, a Canadian broadcaster, reported that Han had advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off freeing two Canadians held there under espionage charges.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig returned to Canada in September 2021 after Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou was released from house arrest in Canada. Han denied any involvement in causing harm to the two Canadians, adding that he had worked hard and advocated for their interests.

Trudeau’s office did not immediately comment on the matter. However, earlier this week, Trudeau bowed to pressure from the opposition and agreed to allow his top aide to testify before a parliamentary committee probing alleged Chinese election interference.

“What has been reported is false and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” Han said, adding that sitting in the government caucus might be seen as a conflict of duty in light of the allegations. He explained that he was resigning from the Liberal Party because “my presence there may be seen by some as the wrong place to be as an independent investigation pursues the facts.”

The resignation of Han Dong comes at a time when Canada’s relations with China are already strained due to the arrest of Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou, in 2018, followed by the detention of the two Canadians in China. The allegations against Han have only added to the tensions between the two countries.