China’s Ambassador to Canada Leaves Post Amid Tensions

(Bloomberg) -- China’s ambassador to Canada has left his post after nearly five years, a period marked by heightened tensions between the two countries.

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Cong Peiwu has returned to China, according to a representative for Global Affairs Canada who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The news was first reported by the Globe and Mail. China’s embassy in Ottawa declined to comment.

Relations between Canada and China have been strained in the past few years, most recently over concerns about possible meddling by China into Canadian elections. Canada is in the midst of a public inquiry into alleged foreign election interference, primarily by China. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testified last week that he didn’t believe China was successful in swaying the outcome of Canada’s 2019 or 2021 elections.

Read More: Trudeau Rejects Claim China Meddled to Try to Help His Election

Still, Trudeau noted that the past two elections occurred during a time of significant strife between the countries. China detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, for nearly three years in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei Technologies Co.’s former Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request.

The two men were released in September 2021 after Meng struck a deferred prosecution agreement with US authorities and returned to China.

Cong’s exit comes as one of Canada’s most senior diplomats, Deputy Foreign Minister David Morrison, is visiting China. Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has not traveled to the country since her appointment in late 2021, but has signaled her pursuit of “pragmatic diplomacy,” engaging with non-like-minded countries.

Last year, Canada expelled a Chinese diplomat accused of targeting a Canadian Conservative lawmaker and his family in Hong Kong, prompting China to turf a Canadian envoy in response. Cong told Bloomberg News in an interview at the time that China would like to see the relationship “back on track.”

“But it’s up to the Canadian side to make sure that they will correct mistakes and not to be engaged in any further provocation or confrontation,” Cong said.

He also recently told Bloomberg that his country will continue to do business in Canada’s domestic critical minerals sector despite Trudeau’s crackdown on foreign investment.

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