Canada has banned journalists with Xinhua and People's Daily from joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper on an Arctic trip, prompting complaints by Chinese reporters who say they are being discriminated against.
The ban comes at a time when relations between the two countries are already strained. The Canadian government recently accused Chinese hackers of infiltrating the computer systems of Canada's top research and development organisation, which China denies. Just a few days later, authorities in China arrested a Canadian couple on suspicion of stealing state secrets about military and national defence research. They remain in custody.
The decision not to have reporters for the Communist Party newspaper and the official news agency travel with Harper stems from an incident during last year's trip to the Arctic, when Li Xuejiang of People's Daily pushed former Harper spokeswoman Julie Vaux after she prevented him from asking a question.
Jason MacDonald, chief Harper spokesman, said from the Arctic that "some media outlets are not welcome on the trip".
Li acknowledged pushing Vaux last year, but said the Prime Minister's Office discriminated against Chinese journalists by not allowing him to ask a question and later having him manhandled by police.
"They used the police force to get me out of the line of the journalists. It's very rare in the world," he said. "They bruised my arm."
Li, the paper's Canada bureau chief and a former Washington correspondent, said he could not understand why he was silenced. Harper's staff limits the number of questions at public events.
Li said he did not even apply to go on this year's trip.
"Why do they discriminate against Chinese journalists? For racial reasons?" he said. "They didn't give me any reason."
Xinhua News Agency reporter Baodong Li said he applied but was told he could not go because of a lack of space.
"This is really ridiculous. This is not just against Mr Li of the People's Daily, it's also against all the Chinese journalists," he said.
Both men said they were considering issuing a complaint with the Ottawa press gallery.