Canada’s ambassador to China says he regrets comments

Canada's ambassador to China admitted to an ill-timed and politically explosive slip of the tongue when he suggested detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou had a strong case to avoid extradition to the United States.

Canada's Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 31, 2016. Asked if Trump's interview with Reuters suggested "political influence" in the case, a senior government official said the Canadian court process would give Meng's legal team numerous chances to make that argument.

"I regret that my comments with respect to the legal proceedings of Ms Meng have created confusion".

Meanwhile, in response to the announcement from the US, Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, said during a press briefing that China was asking the US to withdraw Meng's arrest order and to desist from proceeding with the formal request for her extradition.

They also follow a report by the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail that the USA plans to formally request Meng's extradition to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran. McCallum said the first date of her extradition hearing will be in March but the actual hearings will be some time after that.

Meng's arrest has opened up a major rift in Canada-Chinese relations.

She has been released on bail, but her arrest has sparked an escalating diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has called on world leaders to look at the arrest of these two Canadians raising concerns about their detainment and safety.

A party-backed nationalistic tabloid in China has warned that the extradition battle over tech giant Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is likely to be drawn out and complex. Meng, who is also closely related to her company's founder, Ren Zhengfei, has been held in relation to suspicions of flouting United States sanctions imposed on dealing with the nation of Iran.

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After his remarks in his former riding were revealed to a broad Canadian audience, a storm of criticism erupted, primarily over McCallum's opining that Meng had "quite good" and "strong arguments" to win her fight against extradition.

David Mulroney, Canada's former ambassador to China, called McCallum's remarks "mind-boggling".

"McCallum may be right on the extradition case, and the arguments to be used for the defense", Bothwell said.

Trudeau told reporters in Quispamsis, N.B. that his government's focus is on getting detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor home safely from China and ensuring their rights are respected. "Certainly, Canada - through no choice of our own - is stuck in a dispute between the United States and China", he said.

McCallum also said she can argue against the extra-territorial aspect to her case and the fact the fraud allegations against Meng are related to Iran sanctions, which Canada did not sign onto.

"There has been no political involvement in this process".

Trudeau is also anxious about what he calls a "blending" between commercial interests and political interests, and is concerned that Canada should not be "used" by the Chinese in any way.

Following that arrest, the US has 60 days to formally request extradition (the USA has not yet done this for Meng, but is expected to do so soon).

  • Sonia Alvarado