Canadian PM Trudeau fires his ambassador to China

China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye has had harsh words for Canada over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou

China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye has had harsh words for Canada over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday said he had sought and accepted the resignation of Ottawa's ambassador to China, days after the diplomat sparked controversy with criticism of the U.S. extradition request for a top Huawei executive.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, Trudeau said he asked for, and accepted, McCallum's resignation Friday night, mere days before a key deadline on the extradition case against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

The firing came after McCallum made comments picking apart the United States extradition request for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, apologised, then again weighed in on the case, telling The Toronto Star that it would be "great for Canada" if the U.S. dropped the charges.

It comes a day after he issued a statement in which he said he misspoke about the case and regretted his comments about Meng having a strong case to avoid extradition.

McCallum told StarMetro Vancouver on Friday that if the USA and China reach an agreement on Meng's case, the deal should include the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians now detained in China.

Meng is the chief financial officer of the Huawei telecom company and is accused of facilitating business deals that violated US sanctions against Iran.

Two other Canadians - businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrg - were arrested following the detention of Ms Meng.

The arrest of the daughter of Huawei's founder at Vancouver's airport on December 1 severely damaged relations between China and Canada.

Mr Trudeau had earlier dismissed calls to fire Mr McCallum. But by Saturday, he had reversed his position.

Trudeau says Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent the country in China as charge d'affaires effective immediately.

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But the Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, had also stressed that Canada's Government could not interfere politically in the case.

But on Thursday he walked back the remarks and said he "misspoke".

He cited political comments on the case by US President Donald Trump, the "extraterritorial aspect" of Meng's case, and the fact that Canada did not sign on to the Iran sanctions that Washington wants her extradited for.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said McCallum's remarks "are true but he should have kept his mouth shut". He also thanked McCallum for his 20 years of public service. "And the United States is highly aware of that", he said.

The Canadian government didn't return multiple messages in response to questions about whether McCallum is speaking for the Canadian government.

"We would really be happy if the USA were to abandon this extradition request", he said.

"What is worse is this is happening in the middle of the crisis when we need all-hands on deck", Mr. Saint-Jacques said.

Trudeau and Freeland have stressed that Canada is a rule of law country and has an extradition treaty with the USA that it must respect.

Huawei has close ties to China's military and is considered one of the country's most successful worldwide enterprises.

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