China-Canada differences go beyond Beijing's critical, outgoing envoy: Carr

Canada's trade minister is downplaying the forthcoming departure of China's outspoken envoy to Ottawa, saying differences between the countries stretch beyond the ambassador's level.

Jim Carr says in an interview that the federal government is awaiting China's decision on its replacement for outgoing ambassador Lu Shaye, who has had harsh words for Canada during his two-year tenure.

Sources say the French-speaking Lu will leave his Ottawa post in the coming weeks for a new position in Paris.

Canada's relationship with its second-biggest trading partner has deteriorated rapidly since the December arrest of a Huawei senior executive in Vancouver following an extradition request by the United States.

China was outraged by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, and has since detained two Canadians on allegations of espionage, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and blocked key agricultural shipments such as canola.

Asked about Lu's criticisms, Carr says personalities are not at the centre of the diplomatic dispute, and that the ambassador's job is to express the view of his government.