‘Release Meng,’ Beijing says to Canada’s new ambassador. No response

Foreign Affairs

On Wednesday, Canada nominated Dominic Barton — former global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co — as its new ambassador to Beijing. Agence France-Presse says Barton “helped shape the economic policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and is said to be well-known in Beijing.”

Barton’s predecessor was fired in January after saying it would be “great” for Canada if the U.S. dropped its extradition request for Huawei executive Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟.

The new ambassador will have to deal with the exact same problem — dealing with Beijing’s bullying over Huawei. China is already using Barton’s appointment to call for Meng’s release. Per AFP, earlier today, foreign ministry spokesperson Gěng Shuǎng 耿爽 said:

China has already agreed the appointment of the new ambassador of Canada to China… We look forward to his active role in pushing China-Canada relations back on track… Canada is very clear about the crux of the problem in the current Sino-Canadian relationship…

We urge Canada to reflect on its mistakes, treat China’s solemn stance and concerns seriously, and immediately release Meng Wanzhou, so that she can return home safely.

While the Chinese foreign ministry feels free to castigate Canadafor standing by its treaty commitments to honor American extradition requests, the Canadian government has barely said anything about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained on trumped-up charges and held in unknown conditions since December 2018.

The most recent public statement from the Canadian government on Kovrig and Spavor is this extremely vague assurance on August 9 from foreign minister Chrystia Freeland that “we are doing a lot.”