(Ottawa) The Canadian embassy in China will soon have a new tenant: The Trudeau government has handed over the keys to a career diplomat, Jennifer May, who will become the first woman to hold this key position. After her suitcases are put down, she wants to visit Xinjiang to see with her own eyes how the Uyghurs are treated there.
Posted at 7:00 am
The diplomat, holder of a degree from Université Laval, speaks impeccable French and has over three decades of experience in Canadian missions in Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany, Brazil and China.
The one whose profile is markedly different from that of Justin Trudeau’s last two candidates for the job — John McCallum, a former Liberal minister, and Dominic Barton, a former adviser at McKinsey — is hoping to arrive in Beijing “as soon as possible,” she says . in the interview.
I arrive with my eyes wide open. We are not in the same situation as we were three or four years ago. We had a very difficult experience [avec l’emprisonnement des deux Michael]. What I strive for is a direct, clear and open dialogue with China on all issues.
Jennifer May, Ambassador-Elect of Canada to China
Issues like human rights in Xinjiang, where Jennifer May wants to go.
“It’s 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 across the country, but unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to go at the time,” continues the diplomat, who also speaks Mandarin.
The House of Commons passed a Conservative motion in February 2021 recognizing the existence of Uyghur genocide, but members of the Trudeau cabinet had all abstained.
In early September, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, published a report accusing Beijing of “serious human rights violations” and even “crimes against humanity”.
“It is a fundamental report. As ambassador to China, I will continue to try to counteract these actions […] and to continue measures such as banning the import of products originating from forced labour,” Ms. commentsme Can.
Disputes over Sino-Canada relations have been legion in recent years. After taking power in 2015, the Trudeau government wanted to move closer to the Middle Kingdom, even going so far as to lay the foundation for a free trade agreement, but nothing came of it.
The Meng Wanzhou case, arrested in Canada at the behest of the United States, poisoned that relationship, leading to the arbitrary arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and trade sanctions against canola and beef imports.
Recently, Ottawa blocked access to Huawei for 5G network deployment.
The Chinese government was not happy about this.
“It’s up to them to decide [quelle sera la relation]. But we will argue if it is necessary to do it […] But we will also work together, for example on the environment, which is essential, and I believe that the Chinese will try to work with us on this,” supports Jennifer May.
The Ambassador-elect arrives as Canada’s Foreign Minister, Mélanie Joly, is working on Canada’s much-anticipated Indo-Pacific strategy, which we have been informed should be known by the end of the year.
“It is clear that China, the largest country in Asia, will play a key role in the strategy. Not only because of that, but because it is an important partner for other countries in the region,” she notes.
Apparently there are other files piled up on the ambassador-designate’s desk, including those on the disputes between China and Taiwan. Canada’s position on this issue has not changed: we want de-escalation.
In collaboration with Joël-Denis Bellavance, The press
Incurable food practitioner. Tv lover. Award-winning social media maven. Internet guru. Travel aficionado.