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Speculation is mounting in policy circles that Canada's next ambassador to China won't come from the foreign service, but instead will be a political appointee.

If true, it would mark the first such appointment to China and offer a clear signal of the super-power's growing importance to Canada - while adding to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's growing list of friends and allies who now hold diplomatic posts.

Last month, for instance, the government announced the appointment of former Conservative foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon as ambassador to France. The prime minister had previously appointed former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell as high commissioner...

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