John McCallum out as ambassador to China following controversial comments

Leroy Wright
January 29, 2019

"It should never have come to this", Scheer tweeted Saturday, after the prime minister's office released a statement announcing McCallum's resignation at the request of Justin Trudeau.

Mr Trudeau said he had asked for and accepted John McCallum's resignation on Friday night (local time).

On Friday, speaking at a charity lunch in downtown Vancouver, Mr McCallum told the Star that if the United States strikes a trade deal with China it should also benefit Canada.

The move comes amid the fallout of Canada's arrest in December of Huawei Technologies Co. Meng is the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, and USA authorities allege she disobeyed American economic sanctions on Iran.

Though no explanation was given for his removal, John McCallum was asked to resign just hours after he was quoted in a Vancouver newspaper saying it would be "great for Canada" if the US dropped its extradition request for Meng Wanzhou.

The statement added that, effective immediately, McCallum's deputy Jim Nickel would represent Canada in Beijing as its charge d'affaires. "I thank him and his family for his public service over the past many years", Trudeau said. A Chinese court later retried a Canadian man who had been jailed for drugs smuggling and sentenced him to death.

Notably, Chinese state-run media has claimed throughout that Meng's detention is because the USA government realized that American companies could not compete on equal grounds with Chinese companies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fired Canada's ambassador to China over comments about the extradition of a Huawei heiress. Trudeau has spent considerable effort and political capital over the past month telling world leaders that because of Canada's inherent respect for the rule of law, Canadian authorities had no choice but to detain Meng, and that the extradition process was not political.

He suggested the case was politically motivated and said the USA could make a trade deal with China in which it would no longer seek her extradition, and two Canadian detained in China could then be released.

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Ong said one way Canada might look to fix its relationship with China would be to replace McCallum with someone more familiar with China and its culture. Yet US-China tensions remain as high as ever and it is very likely that tensions will only grow from here on out.

Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, said "Mr. McCallum's remarks were continuing to cause confusion about Canada's position".

Robert Bothwell, a professor at the University of Toronto, said it is not an ambassador's job to speak out of turn.

Having a career diplomat at the helm in China instead of a former politician is a better bet, said Fen Hampson, the head of the global security program at the Centre for Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont.

'What is worse is this is happening in the middle of the crisis when we need all-hands on deck, ' Saint-Jacques said.

She is now out of jail on bail.

Washington has 60 days to file a formal demand for extradition, a deadline that will be reached 30 January.

Huawei has close ties to China's military and is considered one of the country's most successful worldwide enterprises, operating in the high-tech sphere where China hopes to establish dominance.

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