Over 80 Percent of Canadians Say Canada Should Lessen Trade Reliance on China

July 21, 2020 Updated: July 21, 2020

An overwhelming majority of Canadians say Ottawa should lessen its trade reliance on China, a new poll shows. 

The poll, conducted by Ipsos for Global News, says 82 percent of Canadians think reliance on China should be lessened, while 38 percent think all economic ties with the communist country should be cut. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken a hard line against Canada following the 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request. Shortly after the arrest, Beijing warned Canada of “serious consequences” if Meng is not released.

Nine days after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 1, 2018, two Canadian citizens, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were detained in Beijing. The two have been behind bars ever since and were recently charged with spying. 

The CCP has also blocked Canadian agricultural imports, dealing a hard blow to certain sectors such as canola producers. According to the Canola Council of Canada, China accounted for around 40 percent of the demand for Canada’s canola exports, valued at $2.7 billion. The import blockade resulted in a 70 percent cut in exports in 2019, costing $1 billion in lost revenue. 

The latest poll is part of a growing trend of Canadians’ negative views toward China. 

A poll by Angus Reid in May showed that Canadians’ opinion of China had reached a new low, with 85 percent of respondents saying Beijing hasn’t been honest or transparent about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The CCP has been criticized by several countries for its handling of the pandemic, including the United States, Australia, the U.K., and others. 

A poll by Nanos Research earlier this month showed that the majority of Canadians think Ottawa should take a more aggressive stance against China to ask for the release of the two arrested Canadians, such as blocking Chinese companies from buying Canadian firms and denying entry to Chinese officials and their families to live or study in Canada. 

Another poll by Angus Reid published last month showed that over 70 percent of Canadians support the extradition case against Meng to continue in court without government intervention. This goes against Beijing’s push to release Meng in exchange for the release of Kovrig and Spavor.