Canada ramps up anti-China moves after balloon incident, but following US ‘harms diplomatic autonomy’
Published: Feb 23, 2023 11:47 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Following in the US' footsteps, Canada has recently ramped up efforts targeting China in a series of moves including hyping up alleged "air and maritime surveillance attempts" by China as well as "Chinese interference" in the 2021 presidential election. Experts warned Canada to stop dancing to the American tune, as the more it relies on the US, the more crushing its defeat will be.

The Canadian defense ministry said on Wednesday that Canada is aware of recent air and maritime surveillance attempts by China and has thwarted such efforts since 2022, after a local newspaper reported Chinese floating devices were found in the Arctic last autumn, CAN News reported on Thursday.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Tuesday that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) found Chinese "monitoring buoys" in the Arctic last year and were aware of Chinese surveillance attempts that have both commercial and military applications.

The report went on to hype the recent Chinese airship incident, saying it has hit already strained ties between Beijing and the West, and has "intensified discourse about North American security."

Chinese observers noticed that while the so-called Chinese surveillance targets were spotted as early as last autumn, the matter was not picked up by the media back then but has only showed up recently after the US "spy balloon" accusations. 

"Canada is not a politically independent country. Its public opinion to a great extent follows that of the US, which is evident in this latest episode of the airship incident - although it flew first to Canada's air space and then to the US, the Canadian media did not make a fuss about it until the Americans did so," Lü Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"Whatever the US asks them to do, they will obey the order," Lü said. 

The US' handling of the Chinese airship was "hysterical" and apparently violated international norms and conventions, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Saturday when taking questions at a session of the just-concluded Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Germany.

Apart from the "surveillance device" accusations, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that foreign interference in elections is a very serious issue and Canada must be on guard against it, following a media report saying that China "sought to influence the outcome of the 2021 election."

The Globe and Mail last week cited Canadian spy-agency documents saying that Chinese diplomats and their proxies worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered more hostile to Beijing, and that China favored a Trudeau re-election, albeit with a parliamentary minority.

Responding to Trudeau's remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China takes no interest and has never interfered in Canada's internal affairs, while urging the Canadian side to stop using groundless accusations to smear China. 

The Chinese Embassy in Canada also expressed strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the smearing, noting that relevant practices of the Chinese consular authorities are in line with international law, which are just and unimpeachable.

With ulterior motives, some Canadian politicians have pieced together all kinds of false reports and seriously misled the public while poisoning China-Canada relations, the embassy said in a statement. "Only those who are well versed in subversive activities can concoct lies, and only those who are used to interfering in others' internal affairs are keen to play the trick of a thief crying 'stop thief,'" it said. 

"Canada is already a marginalized country, a subsidiary of the US. The more subservient it is to Washington, the more loss it will bear. But if they fight for some political independence, they can get more respect in the international community," Lü noted.