Vancouver (Toronto Star) – Ottawa will have chosen wisely if veteran business leader Dominic Barton can be as strong an advocate for Canada as he has been for China.
After 220 days without a Canadian ambassador in China, Ottawa this week appointed Barton as its top diplomat in Beijing at a time of unprecedented tension between the two countries.
“Beijing is likely very happy over his selection, as it would seem to signal Canada is making a very pro-China appointment,” said Christopher Balding, associate professor on the Chinese economy at Fulbright University Vietnam.
Some have expressed optimism about Barton’s qualifications for the role, including his negotiation skills. Others immediately pointed to Barton’s corporate history with the Chinese state as cause for concern.
When Barton was global managing partner at McKinsey and Company in 2015, the consulting firm signed a client that was building islands in the South China Sea as part of China’s play for sole ownership of the region. The firm’s activities were detailed in reporting by the New York Times last year. International rulings have shot down Beijing’s claims to the region.
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By Joanna Chiu and Jeremy Nuttall