Diplomatic naiveté puts Canada in awkward position
Published: Dec 09, 2018 08:26 PM

Canada is caught between China and the US with its thoughtless arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei. This is a manifestation of Ottawa's naïve and submissive diplomacy.

Meng was detained by Canadian authorities at the behest of the US during a layover at Vancouver airport on December 1 and is facing possible extradition to the US. The US is accusing Meng of breaking US sanctions against Iran, claiming that she covered up Huawei's links to a company called Skycom that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions. Huawei denied any wrongdoing by Meng.

According to a statement published on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canadian Ambassador John McCallum on Saturday to protest Meng's detention, calling it "unreasonable, unconscionable and vile in nature" and warning of "grave consequences" if she is not released.

Considering the timing and details of the arrest, it's more a political than a judicial move. Huawei has risen to become a leader in developing 5G network technology through years of focused effort and innovation and won a bigger slice of the global market. The arrest of Meng is widely regarded as a contemptible step by the US to prevent China steering the 5G future.

Canada shouldn't have made itself an accomplice in containing China's tech development. This is no good to its interests as China will resist any efforts to thwart the country's development.

Canada has good reasons to refuse the US demand to arrest Meng. The country's extradition laws give Ottawa the power to reject requests that it considers oppressive or politically motivated. Unfortunately, it made the worst decision throwing itself into the middle of China and the US.

Despite being an ally of the US, Canada's relations with the US have soured over trade barriers and tariffs. Trump even blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter calling him "dishonest and weak." Canada should pay more attention to prevent the Trump administration from imposing tariffs on Canadian exports instead of playing an awkward role in implementing the US' China containment strategy.

Meng's case highlights the influence the US still has on Canada and Ottawa's inadequate ability to maneuver among major powers. Canada in recent years has been trying to bolster trade with China and reduce its dependency on the US. If it was adept at diplomacy, Ottawa could have used the US request to arrest Meng to win more leverage on both the US and China rather than cornering itself in the current predicament.

It's obvious that Canada lacks a vision of international relations. Canada underestimates China's determination to safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese citizens.

If Canada doesn't correct its wrongdoing or carefully handle the extradition, it will inevitably incur a heavy price.

blog comments powered by Disqus