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26 Jan, 2019 23:52

Canadian PM fires China envoy after he ‘misspoke’ that Huawei CFO better not be extradited to US

Canadian PM fires China envoy after he ‘misspoke’ that Huawei CFO better not be extradited to US

Canada’s ambassador to China was fired after saying that Huawei’s CFO has a “strong case” against being extradited to the US, and that Ottawa would 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. The deputy head of the diplomatic mission in Beijing will take over until a new ambassador is appointed.

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The dismissal of Ambassador McCallum, who “served Canadians honorably and with distinction,” follows his statements, seemingly defending Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on December 1 in Vancouver at the request of the US over alleged violations of Washington’s sanctions on Iran.

I think Ms. Meng has quite a strong case

“One, political involvement by comments from [US President] Donald Trump in her case,” the diplomat told Chinese media on Tuesday. "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.”

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The now-former ambassador seemingly tried to backtrack on Thursday, saying he “regrets” that his comments about Meng’s case created confusion. “I misspoke,” McCallum said in a statement on Thursday, before doubling down on his unpopular opinion, which may or may not have gotten him fired.

From Canada’s point of view, if [the US] drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada


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 on for months. Earlier this week, the US informed Canada that it will start formal extradition proceedings. In the US, the 46-year-old business executive faces accusations of defrauding multiple financial institutions in breach of US-imposed bans on dealing with Iran.

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Beijing has repeatedly called on the Canadian authorities to release the Chinese national or face “serious consequences.” China believes that her arrest is part of a US attempt to diminish Chinese tech companies’ stake in 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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