Chinese ambassador leaves posting in Canada as Ottawa pushes to improve ties

20 April 2024
Chinese ambassador leaves posting in Canada as Ottawa pushes to improve ties

Global Affairs Canada has confirmed China’s ambassador to Canada has left his posting as one of Ottawa’s top foreign affairs bureaucrats tries to thaw relations between the two countries.

Cong Peiwu served as China’s ambassador to Canada since 2019. The news was first reported by the Globe and Mail on Thursday.

During Peiwu’s tenure, Canada’s relationship with China became strained amid a series of tense developments, including when Beijing detained Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig from late 2018 until fall 2021.

Their arrests were widely seen as retaliation for the Vancouver arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on a U.S. extradition warrant.

In October 2023, Global Affairs Canada said the Chinese government was behind a propaganda campaign targeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre.

Peiwu, centre, speaks with Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, left, commander of the Canadian Army, and Lt.-Gen. (Ret’d) Guy Thibault, right, before participating in a panel at the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence in Ottawa, in 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

To top it off, Canada’s spy agency says it believes the Chinese government interfered in both the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa has yet to confirm the departure of its ambassador.

CSIS warned Prime Minister’s Office in 2023 that China ‘clandestinely and deceptively’ interfered in elections

Former Conservative leader alleges Chinese interference may have played a part in his ouster

Ottawa sends representative to improve ties

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly’s office has confirmed her deputy minister David Morrison is in China now.

But Global Affairs Canada has not released an itinerary for his visit.

The Globe and Mail first reported earlier this week that the purpose of Morrison’s trip is to improve ties between the two countries.

Canada’s lack of dialogue with China has made it an outlier compared to Western allies and other G7 countries that have regular, high-level exchanges with Beijing.

But despite the tense relationship, both countries have made recent statements pledging to communicate and collaborate with each other.

David Morrison of Global Affairs Canada appears as a witness at the Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions in Ottawa, on April 4. Ottawa has sent Morrison to China as part of a push to reset relations. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

In January, Joly spoke with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the Israel-Hamas conflict, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and co-operating in the fight against climate change.

That discussion came months after Trudeau said a rapprochement with China would be impossible due to concerns over foreign interference.

After Joly’s conversation with Yi, Canada and China released statements recognizing ongoing diplomatic strains, but they pledged to maintain open communication channels.

Global Affairs Canada has said Conservative MP Michael Chong was a target of a co-ordinated smear campaign that likely was backed by China. He said Friday he “hopes the government is approaching the relationship [with China] with a great deal of caution.”

“I think it’s time for a clear-headed approach that focuses on protecting our interests, protecting our citizens and ensuring we uphold our values,” Chong said.

Source: cbc

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