Trudeau Taps Ex-McKinsey Executive Barton as Ambassador to China

(Bloomberg) -- Justin Trudeau is turning to the former global head of McKinsey & Co. Inc. to help resolve a festering diplomatic dispute with China.

The Canadian prime minister named Dominic Barton as his ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday. The key post had been vacant since the beginning of the year, when the previous envoy was forced to resign after making controversial statements about the extradition case of a top Chinese executive.

Trudeau Taps Ex-McKinsey Executive Barton as Ambassador to China

In addition to his role with McKinsey, Barton previously led the Trudeau government’s advisory panel on economic growth and took over as chairman of Teck Resources Ltd. in October 2018.

“His years of experience in Asia, and the significant global economics expertise he has acquired over an impressive career, will make him a great choice to represent Canada -- and Canadian interests -- in China,” Trudeau said in a statement released by the prime minister’s office.

Beijing “has approved Ambassador Barton to come to China for this new role and we hope he will play a positive role in bringing bilateral relations back onto the right track,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a media briefing Thursday.

Canada’s relations with the Asian powerhouse have been strained ever since Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer at Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and daughter of its founder, was held last December on a U.S. extradition request while on a layover in Vancouver.

Days after her detention, two Canadians -- a former diplomat and an entrepreneur -- were seized by Chinese authorities on national security grounds. The men are being held in trying conditions with limited access to consular officials, while Meng is living under house arrest as her legal team attempts to put a halt to her extradition in a U.S. sanctions case.

China also halted imports of Canadian meat in June and has been refusing canola shipments since March.

“The relationship between Canada and China is an important one, and I will work hard to represent our great country and to resolve the challenges that currently exist,” Barton said in the statement.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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