OTTAWA – China requested on Tuesday that Canada suspend all meat exports to the country after a Canadian probe unveiled forged certificates tied to certain shipments of pork.
The move comes as tensions escalate between Beijing and Ottawa, following Canada’s decision to arrest a senior Huawei executive in December.
China had already banned the import of Canadian canola seed, restricted imports of pork products from certain plants, and detained and arrested two Canadian men on national-security grounds.
According to a statement posted on the website belonging to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, China said the probe’s findings – which were relayed to officials in Beijing – identified “obvious safety loopholes” in Canadian inspections of export-bound meat.
The investigation was launched after Chinese customs agents found traces of a feed additive, ractopamine, in a shipment of Canadian frozen pork. Ractopamine is banned in China. China banned further pork shipments from the Quebec-based processor.
According to the Chinese embassy, the probe found the veterinary certificate attached to the frozen pork was counterfeit, and Canadian investigators uncovered additional forged certificates.
“In order to protect the safety of Chinese consumers, China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China” as of Tuesday, said the statement from China’s Canadian embassy.
A spokeswoman for Canada’s agriculture minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, said in a statement sent via email that Canadian authorities have taken precautionary measures, and informed law-enforcement agencies. The government is working with Canadian meat sector stakeholders and Chinese officials on this matter, the spokeswoman added.
Canadian officials warned domestic meat producers this month of increased scrutiny of its China-bound exports, in particular potential clerical errors in accompanying trade documents.
China banned imports from other Canadian pork processors in recent weeks because of labeling errors, and in March stopped buying Canadian canola seed.
Foreign-policy experts say the moves are linked to Canada’s decision to arrest Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, and part of Beijing’s effort to persuade the Liberal government to release her from extradition hearings.
Following Meng’s arrest, China detained, and later charged, two Canadians on national-security grounds. Canadian officials have called for China to release the two Canadians, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with United States President Donald Trump last week to persuade him to advocate on their behalf during his planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Japan this week.
On Monday, lawyers for Meng made a formal request to Canada to abandon her extradition hearings.
A representative for Canada’s Justice Department said it has received the request, but declined to comment further.
Meng is out on bail in Vancouver, and her lawyers return to court in September.