Canada dismisses ambassador to China after controversial Huawei remarks
The Prime Minister of Canada has fired his ambassador to China after the diplomat made a controversial statement regarding an extradition case of a senior Huawei executive detained in Canada.
“Last night, I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s ambassador to China,” Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Saturday.
Trudeau did not cite the reasons for the dismissal of McCallum - a heavyweight in his Liberal Party.
Trudeau merely highlighted the career of McCallum, who has previously held many senior positions in cabinet, serving as minister of defense and minister of immigration and refugees.
Until the appointment of a new ambassador which will be effective immediately, Canada has put Jim Nickel in charge of its embassy in Beijing.
A week ago, McCallum made some controversial remarks during a press conference in Canada attended only by media from the Chinese community in the United States.
In his remarks, McCallum hinted that Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Canada on December 1 at the behest of Washington, has a great chance of avoiding extradition to the US.
Among the reasons given, McCallum cited statements by US President Donald Trump, suggesting that he would use the case of Wanzhou to exert pressure on the trade negotiations with China.
After his comments sparked criticisms, McCallum on Thursday retracted his statements. But on Friday, he said it would be great for Canada if the US did not request the extradition of Wanzhou.
McCallum was accused of avoidable interference in a case that has soured relations between Canada and China, and caused serious diplomatic crisis between the two.
The arrest came amid a diplomatic row between the US and China. Meng has been accused of committing fraud by violating US sanctions on Iran.
Following the arrest of Huawei’s executive, China detained two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
The two Canadians were arrested on suspicion that they were involved in activities that Beijing says put China’s national security at risk.
In addition, a Chinese court raised the sentence of 15 years in prison to death penalty to Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg for drug trafficking.
Trudeau condemned the death sentence, saying it was arbitrarily applied.