Canada has to stop acting in line with US interests to fix damaged ties with China: experts

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/14 0:33:23


Photo: IC

When China and Canada celebrated the 50th anniversary of establishment of bilateral relationship in an apparently low-profile manner, some academics see the ties are indeed at the lowest level and the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has become a major obstacle in rebuilding mutual trust. However, decoupling from China would not be an option for Canada. 

Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of China-Canada relations, but the Canadian Embassy to China in Beijing didn't host an official celebration nor did the posts on its official Weibo or Wechat account mention the anniversary. Meanwhile some media reports noted the two countries were at a freezing point and face huge difficulties. 

The current difficult situation is rooted in the detention of Chinese citizen Meng in an unreasonable manner at the request of the US government, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on Tuesday. "The Canadian government should take immediate and effective measures to correct the mistake, allow Ms Meng Wanzhou to return home safely at an early date, remove the stumbling block to the development of China-Canada relations and bring it back to the right track," Zhao said. 

Some Canadians do view China with exaggerated suspicion and there are politicians whose views track those of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Jeremy Paltiel, professor of political science at Carleton University in Ottawa, told the Global Times via an email. 

Meng was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 as Canada heeded a US extradition request. Ottawa has been following Washington on a series of matters related to the core interests of Beijing including the national security law for Hong Kong, the South China Sea and China-Canada free trade talks which have further dampened the prospects of the relationship, according to observers. 

The major issue is that instead of acting in line with its own interests, Canada took the moves in accordance to the interests of the US, which led to significant adjustment in its China-related policies, and on the matter of Meng, there has been strong interference by the US government, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Despite of the arrest of Meng, which has deeply damaged mutual trust, bilateral trade has demonstrated sustainability as China's share of Canadian trade has risen to record level so far in 2020, Bloomberg reported. 

In June, two Canadian nationals, former diplomat Michael John Kovrig, and his intelligence contact Michael Peter Todd Spavor, were prosecuted in Beijing and Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, for spying on China and collecting classified intelligence.

"The sooner the fate of the two Michaels and the case of Ms Meng are resolved, the sooner that relations can be put back on a more normal basis. However, the hopeful tone of 2016 will not return soon," Paltiel said. 

"Canada, certainly under the current government, is not anxious to 'decouple' from China. Not only do we not see this in our economic interest, but Canada is deeply committed, historically to a rules-based multilateral order," Paltiel said, noting that Canada sees the collapse of that order as an existential threat. 

The Trump administration's trade war is deeply unpopular here and many Canadians see themselves as its victims, the professor noted.

Dominic Barton, the Canadian Ambassador to China, recently told a forum that "the weight of the world is shifting and has shifted toward Asia, so we need to do more in China," according to media reports.

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