The Trudeau government has no idea how to handle its relationship with China.
Ever since the diplomatic dispute over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for violating U.S. sanctions laws by allegedly working with Iran and the resulting arrest of two Canadians as retribution, Trudeau looks like a fish out of water. He can’t decide whether to treat China as an ally or an adversary.
To anyone paying attention to China, both its grotesque human rights record and its increasingly belligerent foreign affairs, it’s clear that China is no friend to Canada. And yet, that’s exactly what senior Liberal figures continue to imply.
First, it was Trudeau’s former ambassador to China John McCallum who told Chinese journalists in Toronto that the Huawei telecom executive had a strong case to fight against U.S. extradition. He stated it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S. backed down.
McCallum was fired for these remarks, but he continued to advise China on how to manage its relationship with Canada.
“Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, (who) are much less friendly to China than the Liberals,” said McCallum in July, just weeks prior to the start of the 2019 federal election campaign.
McCallum is not the only Liberal speaking out of turn on China. This week, former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley stated that Canada should do a “prisoner exchange” with China. Not only would this pardon Meng on her charges of fraud and breaking sanctions by doing deals with Iran, it would legitimize China’s hostage-taking.
Anytime a corrupt Chinese official is arrested overseas, the communist regime could simply kidnap a Canadian or two and wait for another prisoner swap.
McCallum and Manley’s misguided statements pale in comparison, however, to remarks made by newly-appointed Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. As reported by True North, in a 2017 interview with the state-owned China Global Television Network, the Liberal MP praised China for its “rules-based system” and “inclusive society.”
“In a world of uncertainty, of unpredictability, of questioning about the rules that have been established to govern our trading relationship, Canada, and I would say China, stand out as a beacon of stability, predictability, a rule-based system, a very inclusive society,” he told the Chinese network. Even in 2017, the world knew of China’s despicable human rights record against religious and ethnic minorities.
Last month, an internal Chinese government report leaked to The New York Times helped shine light on the estimated 1.5 million people held in internment camps — mostly Uyghur Muslims, but also Kazakhs, Turks and Christians, as well as writers, artists and political dissidents. Canada has rightly condemned these camps.
China’s internal affairs — concentration camps, the police crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and the new “social credit” system that ranks citizens based on loyalty to the communist regime — looks increasingly like a dystopian novel or a flashback to the most bone-chilling moments of the 20th century.
Anyone who calls this society “inclusive” is delusional. And yet, Champagne is the man Trudeau has trusted to manage this tense relationship.
On Thursday, China’s ambassador to Canada drew a red line and warned that Beijing will launch tough measures against Canada should Parliament go ahead with a motion to sanction Chinese officials over human rights abuses.
Don’t expect the Trudeau government to take a clear, strong or principled approach when it comes to dealing with China.