Canada's Trudeau names career diplomat as new ambassador to China

Former ambassador to Brazil to lead work in 'standing up for human rights'.

Canada's Trudeau names career diplomat as new ambassador to China

Career diplomat Jennifer May was named as Canada's new ambassador to China Friday, and she has been tasked with "standing up for human rights."

"As Ambassador to China, Ms. May will lead Canada’s important work in standing up for democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law," a press release from the Prime Minister's Office said in the press release announcing her appointment as the nation's first female envoy to China.

May, who was appointed Canada's ambassador to Brazil in 2019, also has previously worked in Canada's Chinese embassy in Beijing.

She takes over as Canada-China relations frayed badly after Chinese tech giant Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested and held for almost three years under house arrest in Vancouver before being released. Beijing was incensed and shortly after Meng's detention charged two Canadians with spying. They were released right after Meng was freed in September 2021.

Canada has also spearheaded the international coalition call for investigators to get access to the treatment of minority Uyghurs - it is estimated more than a million are kept in inhumane conditions in prison camps.

But while May will continue to pour Canadian human rights' and other concerns into Beijing's ear, she is also expected to help re-establish better relations with China.

“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,” the press release said.

The ambassador post had been vacant since the end of last year.