A private member’s bill that aims to strengthen Canada-Taiwan relations would be beneficial to Canada in a number of ways, says Conservative MP Michael Cooper, who tabled the legislation in the House of Commons on June 17.
Bill C-315, the Canada-Taiwan Relations Framework Act, establishes a framework for providing greater certainty and clarity for Canada to develop its relationship with this major democratic ally, Cooper told The Epoch Times.
“Taiwan is one of Canada’s largest trading partners. We have strong people-to-people links, and we share common values,” he said.
“Despite that, there is no formal relationship whatsoever. As a result, I decided to put forward a piece of legislation that I think is a reasonable step towards strengthening Canada-Taiwan relations.”
Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is Canada’s 13th-largest trading partner and the 5th-largest in Asia, according to the federal government. In 2018, Canada’s total merchandise trade with Taiwan was $7.87 billion, with Canada exporting roughly $2 billion and importing nearly $6 billion.
Bill C-315 seeks to include Taiwan in Canadian laws’ general reference to foreign states or their governments. Cooper said the inclusion of Taiwan in the definition of “state” would be beneficial to Canada, which he explained using the Access to Information Act as an example.
“In terms of … sensitive information [received] from Taiwan on security or terrorism or criminal law matters, the [Access to Information] Act renders information privileged only as it is received in confidence by a state, so Taiwan would not fit that definition. As a result, sensitive information could potentially be accessed through a court application,” he said.
With Taiwan included in the definition of a state, it would ensure that such sensitive information could be shared with Canada and would receive the same privilege and confidence as it would between Canada and any other state, Cooper said. This also has implications for other legislation, such as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.
The Chinese regime has continually tried to sideline Taiwan on the international stage by pushing countries around the world to adopt the “One China policy,” which rejects Taiwan as a sovereign state independent of communist China. Under this policy, Taiwan has constantly been denied participation in international organizations and forums.
Cooper’s bill supports Taiwan’s participation in multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organizations, though it does not intend to challenge Canada’s “One China policy” and recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.
Cooper said his tabling of the bill has not received any pushback from Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has continuously tried to assert control over the self-governed island.
“Beijing is going to do what Beijing is going to do. The fact of the matter is that we cannot govern our policy on the basis of Beijing,” he said. “We cannot be held hostage by the Chinese communist regime.”
Over the past several months, China has stepped up military activities in Taiwan’s periphery, carrying out regular military flights into its international airspace.
On June 15, a record 28 Chinese military aircraft—including various types of fighter jets and bombers—entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence. A country’s ADIZ is a vital airspace within which the country requires the identification, location, and air traffic control of aircraft in order to ensure national security.
Cooper suggests Canada work with its allies, particularly the United States, to rein in Beijing’s predatory behaviour toward Taiwan.
“Canada has to work with our allies to encourage a de-escalation on the part of the Chinese communist regime,” he said.
“We have seen a significant escalation of aggression towards Taiwan over the past year. It is a significant concern … [because] China’s aggression has undermined the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and is a direct challenge to the international rules-based order, and is a threat to democracy—democracy larger than just that of Taiwan.”
The bill also calls for renaming the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada to the Taiwan Representative Office to reflect its function as Taiwan’s de facto embassy.
“That’s what that aspect of the bill would do, again reflecting reality,” Cooper said.
With reporting by Andrew Chen