Sitting on the Fence Is No Longer an Option With China

By Brian Giesbrecht
Brian Giesbrecht
Brian Giesbrecht
Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
August 8, 2020Updated: August 8, 2020


Australia is currently receiving threats from communist China for the Aussie’s audacity in daring to stand up to the Chinese regime’s usual bully tactics on the South China Sea issue.

Australia agrees with the United States, and other democratic allies, that those vitally important sea lanes are not the property of China, but international waters available to all the nations of the world for transit purposes. Communist China insists otherwise.

In the last few years, communist China has been aggressively pursuing a belligerent policy of attempting to make the international waters its private pond. Artificial islands that function as giant, stationary aircraft carriers have been constructed in disputed waters. Ships from smaller countries have been harassed by an increasingly powerful Chinese navy.

In tandem with United States, Australia has boldly pushed back against communist China’s blatant aggression in the South China Sea. Australia’s official position is this: “Australia rejects China’s claims to ‘historic rights’ or ‘maritime rights and interests’ as established in the ‘long course of historical practice’ in the South China Sea.” For that, it has earned communist China’s enmity.

In one famous exchange, a senior Chinese official told Australia that it was “gum stuck to the bottom of China’s shoe.” (Whether “gum” was actually the word that first came to the Chinese official’s mind, or whether a more earthy word was originally used, is known only to that official.)

Access to the South China Sea lanes is of fundamental importance to world commerce. If communist China succeeds in its goal of choking off half the world’s trade, close-by nations such as Japan and Vietnam will suffer great economic damage, but everyone will be the poorer for it. The South China Sea issue is only one of the urgent international issues that communist China’s aggressive policies are forcing on the world.

So where is Canada in this profoundly important struggle?

Canadian Fence-Sitting

Canada is exactly where it has been on all of the important contentious issues with an increasingly belligerent communist China—sitting on the fence, and hoping not to be noticed.

Despite having two Canadian citizens held captive by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for Canada’s Justice Department’s principled stance in the Meng Wanzhou extradition case, Canada has adopted an incredibly weak and submissive posture in relation to communist China. It’s a great embarrassment to Canadians who believe that our country stands for something.

After all, this is the same communist China that’s currently confining over 1 million Muslim Uighurs against their will in “re-education camps” (read, concentration camps), actively persecuting peaceful Falun Gong practitioners and other minorities, and denying their own people even the basic freedoms. But Ottawa is silent on these CCP abuses.

What’s going on?

At a 2013 event, Justin Trudeau, before becoming prime minister, was asked which nation he admired most. Here’s what he said:

“There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China,” he gushed. “Their basic dictatorship is allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.”

Before him, his father, Pierre Trudeau, although having seen how Mao’s policies were responsible for the deaths of between 40 million and 70 million people, still idolized him. In fact, Pierre Trudeau called that megalomaniacal murderer “one of the great men of the century.”

When Trudeau Sr. returned to China to visit the soon-to-die Mao in 1973, he flattered Mao and openly expressed his admiration for him. He did the same with the tyrant Fidel Castro (so much so that a frail Fidel insisted on attending Pierre Trudeau’s funeral in 2000).

The cabinet ministers serving with the current prime minister have not been firm on China.

Who can forget how former Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion failed to criticize even the most basic of the CCP’s flagrant human rights abuses?

There’s also the impact of highly placed businesspeople and former politicians placing their personal financial interests ahead of their duty to their country.

The result is what we see now, that despite Beijing having taken our citizens as hostages, Canada cringes and supplicates instead of firmly standing up to the communist bullies.

And we should not try to sugar-coat the issue of the “Two Michaels” as being anything but what it is—international terrorism. The capture and detention of foreign nationals in order to exert pressure on another nation is international terrorism, pure and simple. That is what communist China is guilty of.

Any attempt to downplay the seriousness of communist China’s rogue behavior is unacceptable weakness. Canada should be screaming bloody murder, and demanding that the United Nations condemn communist China’s blatant disregard for the normal rules of international behavior. Instead, Canada is embarrassingly silent.

What do the Australians think of Canada’s weakness?

The sad fact is that Canada’s government is not standing up to communist China at all. Quite the opposite, an emboldened CCP repeatedly humiliates Canada. The fact that former cabinet ministers—and even a former prime minister—have suggested that Canada simply give in to communist China’s thuggery and do a “prisoner exchange”—the two Michaels for Meng Wanzhou—is shameful.

Changing Opinions

Meanwhile, the world is changing. Where communist China was once regarded as an economic competitor—but basically a friendly force—opinions are now changing. China’s delay and duplicity with the coronavirus—converting what should have been a controllable local epidemic into a full-blown pandemic catastrophe—has changed minds.

And instead of contrition and international cooperation, communist China has followed up this skullduggery with blatant land grabs and other mischief. The CCP has shown itself for what it has always been—a true threat—and the rest of the world has noticed. Canada will simply not be allowed to dodge and weave on its China policy for much longer. We must pick a side.

But is there an alternative for the world’s democracies to continuing on with “business as usual” with a predatory communist China that has shown that it has no intention of playing by the rules? Can the Western and Eastern democracies stand up to an increasingly assertive nation of 1.4 billion energetic and ambitious people? Is Chinese hegemony inevitable? Is Canada doomed to wear a paper bag over its head forever?

Guess what? There is indeed another nation of 1.4 billion equally energetic and ambitious people in the eastern world that are in every way the equal of China. And that nation is a democracy—a flawed democracy to be sure—but a democratic nation of highly motivated, intelligent people. It is fully capable of accomplishing every bit as much as China has accomplished. That nation is India. Like every giant nation—really, a sub-continent—India has its problems. But—like the Chinese—Indians value education, hard work, and strong families. India’s potential is enormous. And India, too, is fed up with being bullied by communist China. We should work very closely with India.

Building an Alliance

Strengthening ties with India is not the only viable option for ending our dependence on an increasingly unreasonable communist China. An alliance with India can include many other powerful democracies; for example, with a Japan that is emerging from a long sleep. Its potential power is undeniable. Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, and the other “tigers” are waiting with powerful engines idling.

Then there’s brave Australia, and the smaller but capable New Zealand. So far, it’s the United States, Australia, India, and Japan that are taking the lead in confronting communist China aggression. This alliance will grow, as evidence of communist China’s true intentions becomes apparent. Watch for steps, like the banning of Chinese apps such as TikTok, and the repatriation from China of pharmaceuticals. These are preliminary steps only in what promises to be a long and necessary battle.

The nations standing up to communist China are democracies that value individual freedoms and the dignity of the individual—the exact opposite of Xi Jinping’s Orwellian dictatorship, where survival of the brutal CCP is what it’s all about. A committed alliance of like-minded free democracies can not only stand up to the CCP bully, but also make it internationally unimportant.

The first step is making sure that the CCP-controlled Huawei and its freedom-sucking 5G—CCP style—never sees the light of day. The United States, Australia, and Britain have already done that. Canada and the more timid democracies must follow.

Perhaps the democracies’ most important card in this stacked deck is Taiwan. Taiwan represents to mainland Chinese citizens everything that they could be—but are not. Taiwan is a well-administered, functioning democracy. The fact that its citizens are not only free, but also far more prosperous than are the citizens of mainland China, is proof of how a free democracy is vastly superior to a communist tyranny that exists solely for the benefit of a despotic communist oligarchy—the CCP. The CCP knows this, and as a result hates everything Taiwan stands for—everything they are not. The West must stand firmly with Taiwan, even if it means using military force.

And what about noble Hong Kong? There’s no way of immediately coming to the aid of the democratic Hong Kongers. However, although the free people of Hong Kong must temporarily knuckle under to the CCP and its goons, they will be ready to rise up when the time is right. The democracies must support those brave people, using every means at our disposal.

Picking a Side

The recently concluded Sino-Iran deal makes the task of picking a side all the more urgent. In a ground-shaking move, China and Iran have concluded a deal that could not only guarantee the Iranian theocracy’s survival, but also its ability to achieve its dream of arming itself with nuclear weapons. By signing this deal, communist China might be anticipating the “decoupling” with the democracies that is already well underway.

How this devil’s deal occured between a brutal atheist communist China and a theocratic and murderous Iran is anyone’s guess. The fact that an Islamic country is willing to “sell its soul” to a communist China that imprisons and forcibly indoctrinates fellow Muslim Uighurs speaks volumes. How will the United States react, what does this mean for the Sunni Middle Eastern nations and Israel, and will there be more mysterious explosions at Iranian nuclear facilities?

There are many important questions raised by this Sino-Iran deal, and time will tell how it will change an already volatile and complicated equation. But it will probably speed up the process of nations deciding which side they want to be on. Canada must side with the United States, Japan, Australia, and the democracies.

The fact is that we can do without communist China. We can “decouple” and let China return to its past, as a slowly decaying “Middle Kingdom”—under the thumb of the new high-tech—but totally Western-dependent-CCP emperors. Bidding farewell to cheap Chinese goods is a small price to pay to preserve our freedoms.

But the Eastern democracies want the chance to get out from under communist China’s thumb and live up to their potential; Europe needs to get on board as well. All of the democracies that are now fence sitting must stand up to an increasingly belligerent and unreasonable communist China. That’s the alliance Canada should be in.

But will Canada join the democracies? Is Canada up to the task? With our weak leadership—a leadership that appears to have more in common with the CCP one-party vision than it does with our democratic allies—are we capable of growing a spine?

Australia has shown us the way. And sitting on the fence is no longer an option.

Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.