Chinese state media attacks Canada for sacking outspoken ambassador

John McCallum was forced to step down as Canada’s ambassador to China. Photo: Reuters Agence France-Presse

BEIJING, Jan 28, 2019, AFP. Chinese state-run media on Monday decried the sacking of Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, who was fired after he suggested that it would be “great” for Ottawa to release the detained Huawei executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, reported the South China Morning Post.

The former envoy, John McCallum, had raised eyebrows over a series of remarks regarding the case of Huawei’s chief financial officer whose arrest has sparked a diplomatic row between Beijing and Ottawa.

The resignation, at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “reveals political interference”, the nationalist tabloid Global Times said in an editorial.

Ottawa is now as “sensitive as a frightened bird”, the newspaper said, noting the visceral political reactions to McCallum’s comments.

“The truth is that they knew the geopolitics in the case from the very beginning, but were afraid to point them out,” it said.

“As a Chinese folk saying goes, ‘You cannot live the life of a whore and expect a monument to your chastity’,” the Global Times wrote.

“Canada is a country worthy of respect, but some Canadians … are against moral righteousness while deceiving themselves to believe that they can be honoured as moral models.”

Meng was arrested in December at the behest of the United States, where she is wanted for violations of Iranian sanctions. US authorities plan to formally file for her extradition by a January 30 deadline.

Beijing has reacted furiously to Meng’s detention. In apparent retaliation, two Canadian citizens have been detained on national security grounds and another was sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

McCallum, a former senior cabinet minister, said in front of Chinese-language media in Ontario last week that he believed the US extradition request was seriously flawed, comments which he later walked back.

But on Friday, he told the Star Vancouver newspaper that it would be “great for Canada” if the US dropped its extradition request, prompting Trudeau to demand McCallum’s resignation.

Ottawa has repeatedly stressed the case is not politically motivated and the justice system is fair but Chinese media has cast Meng’s arrest as part of an assault on the development on the country’s hi-tech industry.

In the past year, a number of Western countries close to the US have barred Huawei products from their telecommunications infrastructure citing security concerns.

China Daily observed: “McCallum was merely stating the truth when he observed that Meng has a strong case against extradition, which he rightly said was politically motivated.”

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