Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole has called on the Chinese ambassador to Canada to apologize for threatening the 300,000 Canadians currently residing in Hong Kong. 

“The Chinese Ambassador has decided to engage in belligerent rhetoric unbecoming of his office. To be clear, this was a threat to the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong. And a barely veiled one at that,” wrote O’Toole in an official statement on the matter. 

“Conservatives are therefore calling on the Ambassador to fully retract his remarks and issue a public apology. Should the Ambassador fail to do so expeditiously, we expect the government to withdraw his credentials.” 

Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu made the threat on Thursday in relation to Canada’s decision to grant Hong Kong pro-democracy activists asylum. 

“We strongly urge the Canadian side not (to) grant so-called political asylum to those violent criminals in Hong Kong because it is the interference in China’s domestic affairs. And certainly, it will embolden those violent criminals,” Cong said.

“So, if the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport-holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned China’s coercive diplomatic style on Friday and promised to stand up for Canadians at home and abroad. 

In his statement, O’Toole also called on the Trudeau government to expedite asylum for Hong Kongers seeking to flee the country and to place Magnitsky-style sanctions on Chinese officials involved in cracking down on the democratic rights of Hong Kong citizens.