On Monday Conservative leader Andrew Scheer held a news conference calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to get tougher on China. The motivating factor was how Beijing has blocked our canola-seed shipments from their market due to the questionable claim that they have “pests” in them. This is hurting Canadian farmers because China makes up about 40% of our current export market.
One of Scheer’s requests was to see added financial support for canola farmers by increasing the amount of money the feds loan them to cover the time from when they harvest the seed until it finds a buyer. Trudeau actually did just that on Tuesday and doubled the available funds from $400,000 to $1 million per farmer.
That’s an easy one though. That’s the feds doling out cash, something no federal government has never shied away from doing. The other options on the table are tougher ones. But they’re also arguably more important ones that will send a message to China and the world that we won’t kowtow to the rising superpower’s demands.
Here is a list of just some of the things that have been proposed by numerous experts that Canada can do in response to China:
1) Expel their ambassador. China’s Ambassador to Lu Shaye, writing in The Hill Times, claimed that “white supremacy” and “Western egotism” played a role in why we called for the release of the two Canadians detained in China. This is beyond offensive language for a diplomatic to toss at the residents of the country he’s serving in. It’s within our power to send him packing.
2) Ban Huawei from the 5G grid. The creation of the infrastructure that will underpin our 5G grid will play a part in the Internet of Things, that will see the everyday devices in our homes and businesses connected online. Our Five Eyes security allies have already seen fit to ban Huawei from having a role in creating that system, given the concerns about the tech giant’s relationship to the Communist leadership in Beijing. We can, and should, ban them sooner than later.
3) Walk away from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. As I’ve argued elsewhere, our membership in the AIIB was always a problem even without this recent flare-up with China. The bank is China’s version of an International Monetary Fund or a World Bank, except instead of being dominated by American values, this will be guided by Chinese Communist values. Is this something we want to support? It’s one of the many levers that China can use in the decades ahead to replace the U.S. as the dominant global superpower. Scheer’s press conference included calls for us to withdraw our funding from the AIIB, which is something we should seriously consider.
4) A firm policy banning SOEs. One of the worst decisions Stephen Harper ever made was allowing a state-owned enterprise (SOE) to purchase a Canadian oil sands company. One of the best decisions Justin Trudeau has ever made was to ban an SOE from purchasing construction giant Aecon. We need a firm policy on this, one that says we won’t allow corporations that are really just arms of the Chinese government to buy up Canadian companies.
5) Show more support for Taiwan. Right now, China is doing everything they can to pressure Taiwan to become part of official China, including threats of invasion. But the democratic island nation wants to remain independent. China is pushing other countries to go along with their view of things, such as getting Taiwan removed from official maps and denying Taiwan entry in international bodies like the World Health Organization. If Canada makes small signs of support on these fronts, it’ll send another signal to China that we are firm believers that democracy around the world must prevail.