Canada’s foreign minister has lambasted the sacked ambassador to China for “advising” Chinese officials on the upcoming Canadian election, in response to details that emerged in an interview with the South China Morning Post earlier this week.
Speaking to the media in London, Chrystia Freeland called it “highly inappropriate” for John McCallum to have told the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that continuing current Chinese policies would benefit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hardline rivals in the upcoming federal election.
Freeland reiterated that McCallum’s remarks did not reflect the view of the Canadian government, which asked McCallum to resign in January over his comments about Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies.
“I think it is highly inappropriate for any Canadian to be offering advice or opinions to any foreign government on how that government ought or ought not to behave to secure any particular election outcome,” Ottawa’s top diplomat told reporters.
“Nor should any Canadian be advising any foreign government on which electoral outcome would be bad for that government,” she said.
The federal election is expected to be held by October 21.
On Wednesday, McCallum told the Post that he had warned his former contacts at the Chinese ministry that “anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, [who] are much less friendly to China than the current Liberals.”
On Canada’s detention of Meng, who is free on bail, Freeland insisted that her nation was “acting purely in connection with the extradition treaty we have with the US”.
“We have not taken any political decision or political action in this case,” she added.
Freeland, who was in London to jointly organise a forum on press freedom with British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, said she and Hunt had discussed the case of the two Canadians whom Beijing has detained in a move seen as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
China is holding two Canadians – businessman Michael Spavor, who worked in North Korea, and former diplomat Michael Kovrig – on spying allegations. A third Canadian was retried on drug smuggling charges and sentenced to life in prison.
“We have brought together for Canada an unprecedented coalition of countries around the world and international partners to speak up on behalf of the detained Canadians,” Freeland said.
Australia, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, Denmark and the US have joined Canada’s call for the men’s release.
The European Union, Nato and the Group of Seven nations also echoed Canada’s demands, Freeland said.
She and Hunt also talked about Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill and the subsequent massive protests that have rocked the former British colony.
China and Britain have been at loggerheads since Hunt warned Beijing last week not to respond to the protests with “repression”.
The Chinese foreign ministry accused both Hunt and Boris Johnson, his rival for the leadership of the ruling Conservative Party, of making “irresponsible” remarks and questioning whether they had coordinated their attacks.
Asked if she was satisfied with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s recent declaration that the extradition bill “is dead”, Freeland said: “We believe that the government of Hong Kong … needs to listen carefully to the voices of its citizens. We will continue to watch the situation very closely.”
More from South China Morning Post:
- Beijing should avoid ‘punishing’ Canada over Huawei case, cautions Ottawa’s ex-ambassador to China
- Canada PM Justin Trudeau sacks John McCallum, ambassador to China after Huawei controversy
This article Canada’s foreign minister rips ex-ambassador to China for ‘advising’ Beijing on election first appeared on South China Morning Post