By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left Wednesday for the G20 Summit in Japan, China fired another salvo in deteriorating relations between the two countries by stopping all meat shipments from Canada.
The official reason is that inspectors found residue of a feed additive in pork products – the additive ractopamine is permitted for certain uses in Canada but it is banned in China.
As well, China claimed that the meat came with forged safety certificates.
“The subsequent investigation revealed that the official veterinary health certificates attached to the batch of pork exported to China were counterfeit and the number of those forgery certificates was up to 188,” the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement, Tuesday.
Agricultural Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said that Canadian inspectors “identified an issue involving inauthentic export certificates” and law authorities were investigating. But she called it a “technical issue.”
“The Canadian food system is one of the best in the world and we are confident in the safety of Canadian products and Canadian exports,” Bibeau said.
Relations between the two countries steadily deteriorated after Canada, at the request of U.S. authorities under an extradition treaty with Canada, arrested Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou in December.
The Americans allege she contravened sanctions against Iran and want her to face an American court. She is currently under house arrest in Vancouver while awaiting an extradition hearing in January.
The Chinese were furious and demanded Meng’s immediate release. Canada refused.
In the aftermath, China arrested two Canadians and charged them with spying and another Canadian was sentenced to death. China also stopped imports of Canadian canola. China is Canada’s largest purchaser of canola.
Trudeau said earlier he hoped to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit. Attempts to discuss the case have been rebuffed by the Chinese.
During a visit to Washington last week, Trudeau also received a pledge from U.S. President Donald Trump that he would bring up the issue of the two detained Canadians with Xi.