Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the resignation of the country’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, this weekend. In an official statement, he said he had requested and accepted the resignation of the official, who had been with the government of the country for more than 20 years and was in Beijing as a diplomat since 2017. The motives were not specified in the press release but were related to negative comments on the Huawei case.
Since the arrest of financial director Meng Wanzhou, McCallum was not exactly in favour of the Canada-US partnership in the case. As a Canadian ambassador to China, it is obvious that he was at the centre of the whole issue, but his statements would have sounded negative to Trudeau, who would have asked for his resignation last Friday.
The last straw was the comments made last Tuesday at a press conference in which the diplomat said that Meng would be able to escape extradition to the US and that he would have strong arguments in his defence. She, in the position of Huawei’s chief financial officer, is accused of spying and breaking US-imposed international sanctions on US-based companies by negotiating technology with nations such as Iran and North Korea. The manufacturer denies everything.
In the past, McCallum also hinted that the arrest would be politically motivated and would represent an even closer relationship between Canada and the US, but to the detriment of relations with China. Meng’s arrest, he said in other statements, would have caused considerable headaches and hampered diplomatic work between the two countries, leading to retaliation involving the arrest of two Canadians on Chinese soil.
In one of the statements that would have sounded the most thorny for the Canadian government, McCallum even stated in an interview with a Toronto newspaper that “it would be great” if the US government would drop the idea of extraditing Meng. He even tried to go back in some of his speeches, claiming to have been misinterpreted by reporters, but the damage was already done and was large enough for his position to be demanded by the prime minister.
According to the statement issued by Trudeau, Canada is now represented in Beijing by Jim Nickel, who was already part of the diplomatic mission in the country and served as its chief executive officer. In the text, the politician thanked McCallum for his two decades of service and said he remains an inspiration to the Canadian people.