China ac­cepts new Cana­dian en­voy

Urges Ot­tawa to im­me­di­ately re­lease Huawei ex­ec­u­tive Meng to fix ties

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Li Ruo­han

China said Thurs­day it has ac­cepted the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s ap­point­ment of Do­minic Bar­ton, a vet­eran eco­nomic ad­viser, as the coun­try’s new am­bas­sador to China, hop­ing he will play a pos­i­tive role in re­turn­ing bi­lat­eral ties to nor­mal.

The news was an­nounced by For­eign Min­istry Spokesper­son Geng Shuang at a daily brief­ing on Thurs­day. Geng also re­it­er­ated China’s de­mand for the im­me­di­ate re­lease of Huawei ex­ec­u­tive Meng Wanzhou.

“The Cana­dian side should take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the se­vere chal­lenges that bi­lat­eral re­la­tions face, and Canada clearly knows the root cause,” said Geng.

Bar­ton, 56, is a Ugan­dan­born Cana­dian who has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in China. He’s also well known for con­sult­ing as a global man­ag­ing part­ner at Mckin­sey & Com­pany.

In 2009, Bar­ton was awarded the Mag­no­lia Gold Prize by the Shang­hai gov­ern­ment for his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the city’s devel­op­ment.

The ap­point­ment of Bar­ton, who be­lieves in China’s role as a strong en­gine of global eco­nomic growth and is de­ter­mined to im­prove bi­lat­eral ties, does send a pos­i­tive sig­nal from the Trudeau gov­ern­ment, Liu Dan, a re­search fel­low with the Cen­ter for Cana­dian Stud­ies of Guang­dong Univer­sity of For­eign Stud­ies, told the Global Times.

But how much the new am­bas­sador could help im­prove strained re­la­tions re­mains un­cer­tain, said Liu.

“Bar­ton is ex­pected to present a rea­son­able, co­op­er­a­tive and peace­ful side of China to Cana­dian politi­cians and pub­lic, many of whom still have lim­ited knowl­edge or un­der­stand­ing to­ward a ris­ing China,” Yao Peng, man­ag­ing deputy direc­tor of the Cana­dian Stud­ies Cen­ter of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, told the Global Times.

Yao also noted that it’s hard to tell how much Bar­ton could help change the Trudeau gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy to­ward China, and the key to bring bi­lat­eral re­la­tions back to the right track is to prop­erly han­dle the case of Meng, a sym­bolic in­ci­dent that Chi­nese suf­fered in­jus­tice and mis­un­der­stand­ing in the coun­try.

Meng, Huawei’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, was ar­rested in De­cem­ber 2018 in Canada based on a re­quest from the US. She is now fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the US.

Yao noted that the ap­point­ment, an­nounced days be­fore Canada’s elec­tion at the end of this month, is a sign that the Trudeau gov­ern­ment wants to solve the case of Meng and show good­will to­ward the Chi­nese in Canada.

How­ever, the mea­sure is far from enough and more ef­fec­tive mea­sures must be taken to ease Chi­nese anger and the huge loss suf­fered by the busi­ness com­mu­nity, said Yao.

Geng also con­firmed that Cong Peiwu, for­mer direc­tor­gen­eral the Depart­ment of North Amer­i­can and Ocea­nia Af­fairs of the For­eign Min­istry, will take of­fice as China’s new am­bas­sador to Canada.

The new Chi­nese am­bas­sador is ex­pected to take a tougher stance while pre­sent­ing ra­tional Chi­nese voices to Canada, said Yao.

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