China’s state-run Global Times responded to the news with a blistering op-ed on Sunday, in which the unnamed author compared Ottawa to a “frightened bird,” and used a vulgar folk saying to describe Canada’s allegedly immoral actions.
“You cannot live the life of a whore and expect a monument to your chastity,” the unnamed author of the op-ed wrote.
Canadian authorities arrested Meng at the Vancouver airport last December, at the request of U.S. officials who allege she violated their sanctions against Iran. The U.S. has until Wednesday to file an extradition request.
Beijing has denounced Meng’s arrest and repeatedly called for her release.
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McCallum told Chinese-language reporters in Toronto last Tuesday that Meng had a case to avoid extradition to the United States. He apologized for that comment in an official statement issued on Thursday, saying he “misspoke.” However, on Friday he told StarMetro Vancouver that it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S. dropped its extradition request.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday that he had asked for and accepted McCallum’s resignation.
The Global Times op-ed accuses Canada of “political interference” over McCallum’s departure, and says the government acted “against moral righteousness.”
The op-ed also suggests McCallum was like a “little boy laying bare the facts in The Emperor’s New Clothes,” because of his comments about Meng.
“Canadians must be reminded that they are now refusing to face up to the moral predicament,” the author wrote. “If Canada insists on wrong practice, it must pay for it.”
China’s foreign ministry also characterized McCallum’s departure as a political move on Monday.
“The matter you have mentioned is an internal affair for Canada. China will not comment,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing, after he was asked about McCallum.
Canada has faced a wave of backlash in Chinese media since Meng’s arrest. For example, China’s People’s Daily accused Canada last month of acting like America’s “sidekick” and its “51st state.”
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A separate Global Times article published on Monday specifically targets the StarMetro Vancouver journalist who reported McCallum’s comments. The article says she acted “irresponsibly” and “like a paparazzo.”
The official China Daily newspaper said in a Monday editorial on McCallum’s departure that those who had attacked him “should feel ashamed of themselves.”
“Trudeau’s firing of the ambassador shows how sensitive Ottawa is to the pickle it has got itself into at the behest of the U.S.,” the English-language paper said.
“The best solution for Ottawa to emerge with any credibility from the mess it has created is to admit its error of judgment and return freedom to Meng,” it added.
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“It is hoped Ottawa will make the wise choice, a choice that is based on reason and fairness and not on political calculations of how to best get on with the country’s rambunctious southern neighbour.”
All media in China are controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which has largely censored anything regarding the alleged sanction violations from its news reports, according to David Zweig, the Canadian director of the Center on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
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The Chinese have “no sense that Ms. Meng was grabbed for anything other than political reasons,” Zweig told The Associated Press earlier this month. “And if it’s completely political, then I guess in their viewpoint, kidnapping people is just tit-for-tat.”
Two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — have been detained in China since Meng’s arrest. The Chinese also sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death in early January following a hasty retrial on drug-related charges.
Canada issued an updated travel advisory for China on Jan. 14, warning that visitors face “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”
China put out a similar advisory for its citizens visiting Canada on Jan. 15.
— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press