‘It should be easy’ for Ottawa to declare China a strategic rival: former ambassador – National


It « should be easy » for the Canadian federal government to identify China as a strategic rival in its Indo-Pacific strategy, the former Canadian ambassador to China told the special committee on China-Canada relations on Tuesday.

Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from October 2012 to October 2016, said Canada had “learned a lot about China” over the past few years – from the detention of the “two Michaels” to how Beijing is using trade as a weapon.

« I think it should be easy for Ottawa to conclude that China has become a strategic rival and that we need to align very closely with our friends and allies, » Saint-Jacques said.

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On Sept. 30, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said she would release Canada’s long-delayed Indo-Pacific strategy this year, adding that the strategy will be shaped by the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

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The meeting, which opened on October 16, is a week-long gathering that will decide China’s policies for the next five years. He is also expected to break with tradition and reappoint Xi as party general secretary for a third term.

Saint-Jacques said he thought it was clear that Xi « felt on a mission » after listening to Xi’s speech on Sunday.

“He wants to change norms and standards with international organizations,” Saint-Jacques said in his opening address to the committee.

« Based on his opening speech this session, we know he is not changing course as his goal remains to make China the biggest superpower by 2049. (Xi said) if you don’t ‘re not a CCP member, be prepared to withstand high winds, choppy waters and even dangerous storms.

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Relations between Canada and China have been « difficult », said Saint-Jacques.

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In late 2018, China arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou for fraud at the request of the United States, angering Beijing. Both Michaels were released in September 2021 after Meng reached a settlement with US prosecutors and returned to China.

Following the arrest of Meng, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Chinese government again blocked canola shipments from Canadian companies in March 2019. The ban was lifted earlier this year.

Last May, the Canadian government officially banned Huawei and its Chinese technology company ZTE and their equipment from the country, citing concerns about potential threats to Canada’s national security.

Earlier this month, a group of Canadian lawmakers traveled to Taiwan in a move that also triggered China, which claimed the trip « flagrantly violates the one-China principle » and « interferes rudely » with Beijing’s internal affairs.

— with files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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