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China's ambassador to Canada leaves his post

FILE - China's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, speaks at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, Nov. 22, 2019.
FILE - China's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, speaks at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, Nov. 22, 2019.

China's ambassador to Canada has left his post and returned to China, a source familiar with the matter said Sunday, with the news emerging during a senior Canadian diplomat's visit to the Asian nation.

Further details into why Cong Peiwu, who has served since 2019, left his post were not immediately available. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China's foreign ministry said earlier that Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu held talks with visiting Canadian Deputy Foreign Minister David Morrison and the two discussed "China-Canada relations and other issues of mutual interest and concern."

The Chinese ambassador's departure was first reported by The Globe and Mail. Cong's posting ended on April 9 and came as a surprise to some in the diplomatic corps because of its abruptness, the newspaper said, citing sources.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing have been tense since 2018 when Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei Technologies, on a U.S. warrant. Later, Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were taken into custody by China.

China had detained the two Canadian men for more than 1,000 days in a step that was at the center of Ottawa and Washington's dispute with Beijing. The men were released in 2021 on the same day the U.S. Justice Department dropped its extradition request for Meng and she returned to China.

Beijing and Ottawa also have been at odds with each other over other issues like China's national security law in Hong Kong — which Canada has condemned — and China's alleged interference in Canadian elections, suspicions that China denies and Canadian government agencies are investigating.

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