China’s ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu leaves post amid tensions

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China’s ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu leaves post amid tensions

China's ambassador to Canada has resigned from his post after nearly five years, a period marked by rising tensions between the two countries.

Cong Peiwu has returned to China, according to a Global Affairs Canada official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The news was first reported by the Globe and Mail. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa declined to comment.

Relations between Canada and China have been strained in recent years, most recently due to concerns about possible Chinese interference in Canada's elections. Canada is in the midst of a public investigation into alleged foreign election interference, particularly by China.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau testified last week that he did not believe China succeeded in influencing the outcome of Canada's 2019 or 2021 elections.

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China retaliates against Canada by ordering the Shanghai-based Canadian diplomat to leave the country

China retaliates against Canada by ordering the Shanghai-based Canadian diplomat to leave the country

Still, Trudeau noted that the last two elections came at a time of significant conflict between countries.

China has detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, for nearly three years, apparently in retaliation for Canada's arrest of former Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request.

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

Cong's departure comes as one of Canada's most senior diplomats, Deputy Foreign Minister David Morrison, visits China. Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has not traveled to the country since her appointment in late 2021, but has signaled her desire for “pragmatic diplomacy” and engaging with countries that are not like-minded.

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Last year, Canada expelled a Chinese diplomat accused of targeting a Canadian Conservative lawmaker and his family in Hong Kong, prompting China to fire a Canadian envoy in response.

Cong said in an interview at the time that China would like to see relations “back on track.”

“But it is up to the Canadian side to ensure that it corrects mistakes and does not engage in further provocation or confrontation,” Cong said.

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