After nine months of Canada not having an ambassador in China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the appointment of a career diplomat to the post in Beijing.
Jennifer May, who has worked with Global Affairs Canada (External Affairs at the time) since 1990, will be stepping into the job left vacant following Dominic Barton’s resignation in December 2021. Barton left the role to become the chairman of mining giant Rio Tinto.
May was previously Canada’s ambassador to Brazil, and has also spent time as a diplomat in Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Bonn, Hong Kong, and Vienna. She will be Canada’s first female ambassador to China.
“A dedicated public servant, Ms. May’s many years of diverse experience on international missions, and her deep understanding of Asia, will serve to manage this important bilateral relationship and advance Canadian interests in China,” noted Trudeau.
The Prime Minister’s Office says May “will lead Canada’s important work in standing up for democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law,” and that her work will “be key to advancing Canadian priorities in the Canada-China relationship, including supporting the long-standing people-to-people, economic, and business ties between our two countries.”
One of the first issues May will have to navigate is a planned visit by a Canadian parliamentary delegation to Taiwan the week of October 8, as the Chinese Communist Party does not approve of foreign politicians visiting Taiwan.
Canada’s agri-food and seafood exports to China were valued at C$9.4 billion in 2020.