Rubber Meets the Road in China’s Challenge to Canada

COMMENTARY
December 17, 2018 Updated: December 17, 2018
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Canada must stick to universal values such as the rule of law in its diplomatic and economic dealings with  communist China. Conveniently, this means adopting a more “American” approach to dealing with the Chinese regime.

It is unacceptable that China threatens Canada simply because it followed the law in its arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. One might think China threatens because it doesn’t consider that the justice system and the political system should be two separate things. However, in a democratic, rule-of-law country, they are. In truth, the Chinese regime threatens because it thinks it can and believes that its threats will bear fruit.

Considerable discourse has been underway for some time in the United States about China’s threat to Western democracy, technological advancement, and even military capabilities.

Now the United States—spearheaded by the Trump administration—has implemented an inherent and enduring suspicion of the Chinese regime.

“China understands strength, they understand pain,” said China Beige Book International CEO Leland Miller. And this is what the United States is demonstrating. The Chinese regime is reducing tariffs on U.S. auto imports, buying American soybeans, and reportedly reconsidering its imperialist Made in 2025 campaign.

Contrast this with Canada’s approach in recent years—which has been described as naïve—regarding China’s influence building to undermine democracies. In addition, Canada remains reluctant to take a strong stance against involving Huawei in building next-generation 5G networks. This is despite warnings from U.S. officials and the banning of Huawei from 5G upgrades by like-minded allies Australia and New Zealand.

Communist China is trying to bully Canada because it thinks it can. Of course, Canada does not have the economic might of the United States, but the two countries are on the same page when it comes to the rule of law.

This was further affirmed on Dec. 14, when Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said there are no closer partners in the world than Canada and the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country will work to free two Canadians detained in China unlawfully after Meng’s arrest.

Regardless of the impact—if any—that Meng’s arrest has on Sino-U.S. relations, a period of turbulence needs to be traversed if a respectable dynamic is to be achieved. There is a ton of wood to chop: It’s not just the trade deficit but also the distasteful tenets of China’s growth model: state subsidies and ownership, forced acquisition and theft of foreign technology, restricted access to its domestic market for foreign competitors.

Canada needs to understand that the Chinese regime’s scheme—or more politely put, economic growth model—is to rob, replicate, and replace. This was detailed to U.S. senators in a judiciary committee meeting on Dec. 12: Steal a foreign company’s intellectual property, copy the technology, and supplant the foreign company in the Chinese market—and maybe someday, in the world.

Since China became a member of the World Trade Organization, Canada has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. China is already Canada’s second-largest single-country trading partner, but those seeing dollar signs as they look to a massive economy moving toward consumption-based growth fail to see the risks of a deeper relationship with communist China.

Maybe Chinese ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye’s latest threats, that a free trade agreement faces new obstacles (in light of Meng’s arrest), might actually be one of the more useful things he has done. If the Canadian government takes it to heart, a grave mistake for Canada might be avoided.

Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETBiz

Follow Rahul on Twitter: @RV_ETBiz