Canada is developing a new China strategy and other countries will likewise need to reassess their relationship with Beijing’s “growing influence,” says Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.
“We need to be able to have a clear strategy in the region when it comes to trade, when it comes to also our relationship economically speaking, but also on human rights and democratic values and issues.”
Joly did not respond directly when asked if the strategy will entail a foreign policy shift in barring Chinese state-owned companies from buying Canadian companies with the potential intention to carry out foreign misinformation and disinformation operations.
“On the question of foreign interference. It is clear that in a democracy, we will never accept any form of foreign interference,” Joly answered, adding that it is also part of the mandate letter to her and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.
“Let’s be frank, there cannot be economic coercion on the part of any foreign country in Canada, and that is why it’s important that our businesses also are well protected.”
Joly also didn’t respond directly when asked whether the Canadian government will ban Beijing-linked telecom Huawei from participating in Canada’s 5G telecommunication networks, saying only that a decision “is coming very soon.”
Her response on Huawei echoes Trudeau’s promise over three months ago that a decision on the ban will be made “in the coming weeks.”
Canada remains the only country in the Five Eyes—an intelligence alliance between Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand—that hasn’t banned or planned to phase out Huawei’s products from its 5G network.
Beijing’s stance toward Ottawa became more hostile following Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request in 2018, with the Chinese regime arresting two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation. The Canadians were released once the U.S. dropped its extradition request against Meng and she was allowed to go back to China.
Joly said her government’s public condemnation of Ho’s arrest and the decision to not send any officials to the Beijing Olympics in a diplomatic boycott of the Games are examples of the Liberals’ approach to human rights in China.
“We will call out China on democratic issues every time, and at the same time, we will further exercise here with experts, with academics, with people that have ties to China, with also people that have an opinion and expertise in the region to make sure that ultimately we’re ready for the next years and the next decade.”