June 16, 2020 / 8:13 AM / 23 days ago

China asks Canada to investigate pests found in logs

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s foreign ministry has asked Canada to investigate pests found in shipments of logs, spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing on Tuesday.

The move coincides with strained relations between China and Canada since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecoms firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, in December 2018.

Last year, citing pest concerns, Beijing blocked canola seed shipments from Richardson International and Viterra Inc - Canada’s two top exporters. It also temporarily suspended imports of pork and beef from the country last year.

Canada’s Trade Ministry confirmed later on Tuesday that on June 9 it received 16 notifications of non-compliance from China related to the discovery of pests in shipments of hardwood and softwood logs, spokesman Ryan Nearing said.

“Canada is investigating these notices as per standard response procedures,” Nearing said. “Ongoing trade in forestry products to China continues without disruption despite the notices.”

Meng suffered a setback last month in a Vancouver court that will prolong her efforts to avoid extradtion to the United States. Analysts said at the time that the decision could leave Canada vulnerable to further retaliation from Beijing.

Zhao said some Chinese port authorities had detected pests in imported Canadian logs that were not permitted under Chinese quarantine rules.

Beijing had asked Canada to investigate and take measures to resolve the issue, he said.

“Protecting China’s agriculture and forestry industries, as well as its ecological safety, is the Chinese government’s obligation,” said Zhao.

The move was “scientific and reasonable” and in line with international conventions, he added.

Reporting by Huizhong Wu; writing by Dominique Patton and Steve Scherer; editing by Barbara Lewis and Steve Orlofsky

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