Canada’s future Indo-Pacific strategy will distance itself from China

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is advising Canadian companies not to tighten their ties with China any further, as Ottawa’s long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy is expected to be unveiled within a month.

In a speech Wednesday morning in Toronto, Joly said Canada wanted to deepen its ties with more democratic and reliable countries in the region, such as India.

« The tectonic plates of global power structures are shifting, » Ms. Joly said in a speech at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. Canada should be clear on how we intend not just to engage, but to lead.”

Canada’s Foreign Service group will be tasked with training more China affairs experts and placing them in « key embassies » around the world. « This will become the focus of our diplomatic efforts, » Ms. Joly said.

The minister argued that China was increasingly deviating from Canadian values ​​and that companies doing business there therefore faced risks of political interference and violation of trade rules. « China is an increasingly disruptive global power, » Ms. Joly said.

Canada, she said, can work with China on issues such as climate change and will continue to engage with that country, but Ottawa has serious concerns that Beijing will undermine security, trade and peace in the country. world.

“Canada will not apologize for its national interests. We will not apologize for trying to enforce the global rules that govern international trade, human rights around the world,” she said.

This posture is based in particular on “credible accounts of human rights violations and crimes against humanity” in the Xinjiang region against the Muslim minority of Uyghurs.

Ms. Joly also spoke about Canada’s current military presence in the region. She suggested that more focus could be placed on containing China’s maritime borders and deterring any invasion of Taiwan by Beijing.

Hardening after “the two Michaels”

The remarks represent a major turning point for liberals, who usually tried to avoid hostile rhetoric toward Beijing, as China arbitrarily detained Canadian nationals Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig for nearly three years.

“What I would like to say to Canadians doing business in China and with China: be lucid,” said Ms. Joly, highlighting “the geopolitical risks of doing business with this country”.

The speech, sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, a government think tank, portends increased federal spending on diplomatic missions.

“We must both deepen our existing friendships and seek new allies,” Ms. Joly said, citing India by name. We need to be at the table, step up our game and increase our influence.”

Joly also said Wednesday that the Canadian government’s Indo-Pacific strategy would be unveiled within a month. Business leaders and former diplomats were pushing Ottawa to develop such a strategy for this part of the globe, which the Liberals have repeatedly promised in recent years.

Ms. Joly unveiled on Wednesday five main objectives of this strategy: peace, supply chain resilience, human and women’s rights, climate change, and increasing Canada’s presence in the world.

Ms. Joly will accompany Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on an official trip to the region starting Thursday, with summits in Cambodia and Indonesia, but she will not be making the trip to Thailand.


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