(Ottawa) The Canadian Embassy in China will soon have a new tenant: The Trudeau government has handed the keys to a career diplomat, Jennifer May, who will be the first woman to hold this key position. Once her bags are placed, she intends to visit Xinjiang to see with her own eyes how the Uyghurs are treated there.
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The diplomat holds a degree from Université Laval, speaks impeccable French, and has more than three decades of experience in Canadian missions in Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany, Brazil and China.
She says someone whose profile differs markedly from that of Justin Trudeau’s last two for this assignment — John McCallum, a former Liberal minister, and Dominic Barton, a former McKinsey consultant — hopes to get to Beijing “as soon as possible.” in the interview.
The origin and my eyes are wide open. We are not in the same situation as three or four years ago. We had a very difficult experience [avec l’emprisonnement des deux Michael]. What I seek is to have direct, clear and frank dialogue with China on all issues.
Jennifer May, Canadian Ambassador Designate to China
Issues like human rights in Xinjiang, where Jennifer May plans to go.
“This is part of my plans,” she says.
“I was in charge of human rights files when I was in China between 2000 and 2004. I traveled to Tibet and all over the country, but unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to go at that time,” continues the diplomat, who also speaks Mandarin.
The House of Commons passed a Conservative motion in February 2021 that recognized the existence of genocide against the Uyghurs, but Trudeau’s cabinet members abstained.
In early September, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, issued a report accusing Beijing of “grave human rights violations” and even “crimes against humanity” .. the place of this minority.
It is a basic report. As an ambassador to China, I will continue to try to counter these measures […] and continue measures such as banning the import of products that come from forced labor,” comments Ms.I mayo.
Disagreements over Sino-Canadian relations have been frequent in recent years. The Trudeau government wanted to get closer to the Middle Kingdom when it came to power in 2015, even going so far as to lay the groundwork for a free trade agreement, but nothing came of it.
The case of Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada at the behest of the United States, poisoned that relationship, led to the arbitrary arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the imposition of trade sanctions on canola and beef imports.
Recently, Ottawa blocked access to Huawei for 5G network deployment.
The Chinese government was not satisfied with this.
“It is also up to them to decide [quelle sera la relation]. But we will argue when it is necessary to do so […] But, also, we will cooperate, in the environment sector for example, which is necessary, and I think the Chinese will seek to cooperate with us on this matter,” supports Jennifer May.
The ambassador-designate arrives for the position of Canadian Foreign Minister, Melanie Jolly, and is working on Canada’s highly anticipated Indo-Pacific strategy, which should be known by the end of the year, according to our information.
It is clear that China, the largest country in Asia, will have a key position in the strategy. Not only because of that, but because it is a major partner for other countries in the region,” she notes.
It is clear that there are other files that will accumulate on the office of the appointed ambassador, including the file of the differences between China in Taiwan. On this, Canada’s position has not changed: We want de-escalation.
In collaboration with Joel Dennis Bellavance, Journalism
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