Canadian PM fires China envoy after he ‘misspoke’ that Huawei CFO better not be extradited to US
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Canada’s ambassador to China has been sacked after claiming that Huawei’s CFO has a “strong case” against being extradited to the US, and suggesting that Ottawa will be better off releasing the Chinese national.
“Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s Ambassador to China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday, without providing the reason behind the dismissal of the diplomat. Deputy head of diplomatic mission in Beijing will take over until a new ambassador is appointed.
The dismissal of ambassador McCallum, who “served Canadians honorably and with distinction,” follows his statements, seemingly defending the Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou who was arrested on December 1 in Vancouver at the request of the United States over her alleged violations of Washington’s sanctions on Iran.
“From Canada’s point of view, if drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada,” McCallum told the StarMetro Vancouver on Friday, reiterating his position he expressed at the start of the week.
“I think Ms. Meng has quite a strong case,” the diplomat told the Chinese-language media on Tuesday. “One, political involvement by comments from [US President] Donald Trump in her case. Two, there’s an extraterritorial aspect to her case, and three, there’s the issue of Iran sanctions which are involved in her case, and Canada does not sign on to these Iran sanctions.”
The now former ambassador seemingly tried to backtrack Thursday, saying he “regrets” that his comments about Meng’s case created “confusion.”
“I misspoke,” McCallum in a statement on Thursday, before doubling down on his unpopular opinion, which may or may have not gotten him fired.
Meng, who was granted bail last month but remains under house arrest with strict conditions, is due to start arguing her case next month in a legal battle that could drag for months. Earlier this week, the US informed Canada that it will start formal extradition proceedings. In the United States, the 46-year-old business executive faces accusations of defrauding multiple financial institutions in breach of US-imposed bans on dealing with Iran.
Beijing has repeatedly called on Canadian authorities to release the Chinese national or face “serious consequences.” China believes that her arrest is part of US attempt to diminish the Chinese tech companies’ stake on the global market amid the ongoing trade war. In the meantime, in what some believe to be retaliation, Beijing arrested two Canadians – Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a prominent consultant on North Korean business issues – on accusations of harming national security.
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