OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is not considering immediate sanctions against China over its treatment of Hong Kong and does not want to escalate a dispute between the two nations, a Canadian government source said on Thursday.
Last week, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, banned the export of sensitive military items and said Canada could boost immigration from the former British colony after Beijing imposed new national security legislation.
Some members of the main opposition Conservative party want Trudeau to impose sanctions on Chinese officials but such a move is off the table for now, said the source.
“There are a lot of options we have at our disposal,” said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
Asked about sanctions, the source replied: “Right now it’s not necessarily something that is being considered in the immediate term but lots of things can happen.”
Canada-China relations froze in late 2018, when Canadian police detained Huawei Technologies Co’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. arrest warrant.
“We’re not seeking to escalate any current dispute with China,” said the source when asked about the Canadian measures on Hong Kong. “It’s not a question of trying to do something deliberately provocative, it’s to take a step in response to a step that the Chinese took.”
For the time being Canada is more focused on measures to boost immigration from Hong Kong.
Australia said on Thursday that Hong Kong students, graduates and workers in the country on temporary visas will have the opportunity to stay and work for an extra five years and then apply for permanent residency.
Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendocino, asked on Thursday what Canada would do, said Ottawa was exploring options but did not give details.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Nick Zieminski
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