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Justin Trudeau fired China ambassador John McCallum over Huawei

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired the country’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, on Saturday after he spoke out about the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

It is the latest twist in the ongoing saga over Meng, who was detained in Vancouver last month on reported suspicion of breaking US trade sanctions.

McCallum told Chinese language media on Tuesday last week that Meng had some, “strong arguments” for avoiding extradition to the US. He also said Meng getting extradited “would not be a happy outcome.”

His comments prompted astonishment from fellow diplomats who thought they undermined Canada’s position. David Mulroney, the former Canadian ambassador to China, called McCallum’s remarks “mind-boggling.”

McCallum apologized on Friday, telling the Toronto Star that he “misspoke,” but then added that if the US dropped its extradition request, it would be “great for Canada.”

Read more: China is outraged that the US wants to take the arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou off Canada’s hands

The Toronto Star reported on Wednesday that Trudeau was standing by McCallum, but that changed at the weekend. Trudeau announced in a statement on Saturday: “Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s ambassador to China.”

Meng’s case has sent tremors through China-Canada relations, and following her arrest on December 1, two Canadians have been detained in China and a third had a prison sentence upgraded to the death penalty.

China claims that the arrest was politically motivated by the US, which has been lobbying allied countries to freeze out Huawei’s new 5G network plans on national security grounds. It claims Huawei could be acting as a backdoor for the Chinese government.

Chinese state media reacted derisively to the news of McCallum’s resignation. State-run newspaper The Global Times said: “Ottawa is now as sensitive as a frightened bird.”

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