Release of the two Michael: What future for Sino-Canadian relations?

This is a sensitive issue that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not want to move forward on. On Friday evening, when he announced the imminent arrival of the two Canadians who had been incarcerated in China for nearly three years, Trudeau avoided answering journalists’ questions about the future of Sino-Canadian relations.

I know there will be time for reflection and analysis in the days and weeks ahead.he just said.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing are complex to say the least, agreed Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau in an interview Desautels on Sunday.

When the two countries sank into a crisis lasting more than 1,000 days, diplomatic channels were paralyzed. According to Minister Garneau, there was no “open road” to develop Sino-Canadian relations “while the two Michael were in prison”.

To the Canadian government, there is no doubt that the Michaels were Hostages Prisoners arbitrarily in response to the arrest of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s chief financial officer – a US request – in Vancouver in December 2018.

Meng Wanzhou was under house arrest in Vancouver while the Canadian judiciary was unfolding.

Michael’s release was triggered by the postponed prosecution agreement reached between Ms. Meng and US attorneys, Minister Garneau said. This started the process.

By arresting two Canadians on alleged espionage charges with the aim of using them as bargaining chips for the release of Ms. Meng, China has sent a clear message that it will not skimp on resources.

How does Ottawa plan to renew relationships with a partner who has no hesitation in engaging in “hostage diplomacy,” as many experts have pointed out?

What is certain is that Canada will have to “coexist” with China and will have no choice but to “cooperate” with it, especially on issues such as the fight against climate change, explains Marc Garneau.

That won’t stop Ottawa from criticizing China when it is appropriate to do so, supports the Foreign Minister. He recalled that Canada was the initiator of the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in Interstate Relations, which 65 countries have signed to date.

Since February, the countries of the world have gathered to say that arbitrary detention is completely unacceptable in relations between countries.

A quote from:Marc Garneau, Canadian Foreign Minister

Solutions against “the rogue side of China”

Former Ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques believes Ottawa needs to reinforce that statement.

Canada and the signatory states would have to agree on sanctions that could be imposed on China should this “hostage diplomacy” ever dare, he argued in an interview with RDI on Sunday.

After arbitrary capture of MM. Kovrig and Spavor, it is necessary Send a very strong message that this type of bullying cannot go onhe said, insisting that Canada be one Muscle reaction.

Former Canadian Ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, 2013

Photo: The Canadian Press / JASON FRANSON

In order to better prevent Chinese interference and espionage, Canada must also form alliances with friendly countries, revise and reaffirm its international policy and exercise increased surveillance, said the former ambassador.

There are several things we can do to counter the rogue side of China and have a more predictable relationship, he argued.

For example, according to Saint-Jacques, Canada would have every interest in drawing inspiration from Australia, which passed laws very specific To prevent China from interfering in its internal affairs.

Canada needs to devote many more resources to all defense issues, particularly by strengthening its presence in the Arctic, said Guy Saint-Jacques.

Canadian diplomacy on the verge

Minister Garneau assures us that Ottawa will not hesitate to stand firm against Beijing while recalling the Trudeau administration’s criticism of China’s treatment of the Uyghurs.

He forgets, however, to mention that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal faction abstained from the vote on the recognition of Beijing genocide – a Conservative Party motion unanimously adopted in the House of Commons.

Foreign Minister Marc Garneau stands behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Release of the two Michael: What future for Sino-Canadian relations?

Photo: The Canadian Press / Justin Tang

According to Lynette Ong, an expert on China and authoritarian regimes, the Trudeau government has shown itself “very reluctant” to take a “firm position” on several China-related issues.

I think the Liberal government was waiting for the outcome of the Michael’s case. previously observes Ms. Ong, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

Like Guy Saint-Jacques, Ms. Ong believes the time has come for Canada to loudly and clearly reaffirm our policy towards China.

While Canadian and Chinese diplomats worked to resolve the impasse, Canada is stayed on the sidelines was absent more than once, largely in the agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to counter the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific zone.

On the same day that Michael’s release was announced, Quad member countries – the United States, Australia, Japan, and India – met to discuss how Quad is expanding. China in the region can best be contained.

Canada is a special case among Western democracies. We have been very reluctant, very reluctant to take a firm stand one way or another.

A quote from:Lynette Ong, China Specialist and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto

In the face of China, an ever-growing world power, we just can’t afford to be in that situation again, to be passive, without a strategyargues Ms. Ong.

The specialist also believes that relations between Beijing and Ottawa cannot be repaired. We now live in a completely different world.

Huawei is not excluded from the race for 5G

Minister Marc Garneau reminds that Canada will inevitably compete with China and that Ottawa and Beijing are linked by business ties.

Although trade between the two countries continued during the conflict, the development of new business relationships was jeopardized.

Especially since Canada is very dependent on traderecalls Gordon Houlden, former director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta.

Trade accounts for 64% of the country’s GDP, as opposed to 37% for China and 24% for the United States.

Separate us from what is almost the largest economy in the world […] could be expensive for a country like Canada, note M. Houlden.

The Canadian government has not closed the door to the idea of ​​awarding the contract to the Chinese giant Huawei to build a 5G telephone network in the country.

It is a decision we will make based on the security of our telecommunications systems.assures Minister Garneau. It will be announced at a given time.

With information from John Paul Tasker and Don Pittis, CBC News