China on Friday announced the suspension of dialogue with the United States on a number of areas, countering the recent visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Not only the dialogue on climate change and between military commanders at theater level, the exchanges on transnational crime and drug trafficking have been halted.
China suspends dialogue with US, sanctions against Pelosi over visit to Taiwan
With such an “opaque” regime, it could be difficult to predict what lies ahead for Canada’s diplomatic relationship with China, says Josephine Chiu-Duke, a professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“I didn’t expect the Chinese regime to be so fierce and violent,” she told Global News.
For Canada, “we can’t really predict China’s actions because their system is just so opaque,” she said. “In the long run, we just don’t know what other actions China will take.”
However, Chiu-Duke is not seeking a shift in relations between Canada and the People’s Republic of China, at least for now.
“Right now, I don’t see any particular change of course in the relationship between Canada and the People’s Republic of China,” she said.
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In response to what China described as “vicious” and “provocative” actions by Pelosi during her visit to Taiwan earlier in the week, the country’s communist government also announced sanctions against her and her immediate family.
In addition, China fired ballistic missiles near Taiwan during major military exercises.
“I think it’s important that China understands that its behavior is irresponsible,” André Laliberté, a professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies, told Global News.
“And I think Canada has to stand firm and say it’s not acceptable. I think it is the Canadian government’s right to speak frankly with China and say its behavior is irresponsible,” he said, also noting the importance of Canada maintaining close coordination with allies.
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US-China relations have always been closely watched by Canada, Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, told Global News. She called cutting off the dialogue a “gross overreaction.”
Going forward, Canada needs to come up with a comprehensive plan to regulate ties with both China and Taiwan, McCuaig-Johnston said.
“We need to describe the new, more aggressive China that we are seeing and ways in which our government plans to manage this relationship, as well as how we will work with and support Taiwan. This Indo-Pacific strategy will shape our relationship with China and Taiwan and other countries in the region.”
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Charles Burton, a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute and a former adviser to Canada’s embassy in China, wants an Indo-Pacific policy in line with European allies, along with Australia and the US
“We really need to put this matter on the government’s agenda, make some decisions and say exactly where Canada is in terms of Taiwan’s defense and in terms of China’s activities,” he told Global News.
With no Canadian ambassador in Beijing since Dominic Barton’s departure last December, Burton said Canada’s voice in China is currently “muted”.
“In order to get access to the Chinese regime and be taken seriously, you really need someone at ambassadorial level,” he said.
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On Friday, China’s foreign ministry said it had subpoenaed Beijing-based Canadian diplomat Jim Nickel over Canada’s involvement in reaffirming the country’s commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and beyond.
A statement on behalf of the foreign ministers of the G7 countries was issued on Wednesday to outline their concerns over recent “threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China, particularly harsh drills and economic coercion that risk unnecessary escalation”.
“There is no justification for using a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait,” the statement said.
Immediately afterwards, Nickel was summoned by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng on Thursday, urging Canada to “correct its mistakes immediately” on the Taiwan issue or “face all the consequences,” according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement released on Friday.
“Any conspiracy to condone and support the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence’ is doomed to failure,” the statement said.
“Any consequences arising from this G7 statement will not only harm China-G7 relations, but will also harm China itself,” UBC’s Chiu-Duke said, noting that the country’s focus on products and foods from Canada, including wheat.
“Canada has always asserted that we support liberal democracy and human rights, and the fact that the foreign minister joined the other G7 countries in making this statement already shows our firm commitment to this type of principle. The country should not bow to a tyrant,” she said.
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Canada’s relations with China have a murky past. In December 2018, at the request of the US, Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive at Chinese company Huawei Technologies. Wanzhou was charged in connection with American sanctions against Iran.
Following their arrest in late 2018, two Canadians working in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were arrested. In 2021, both were convicted of espionage in closed Chinese courts. The two Michaels, as they became known, were allowed to fly home by Beijing on September 25 after the US worked out a deferred prosecution agreement in Meng’s case that allowed their release.
“The kidnapping of the two Michaels is still a very, very bitter memory for a lot of people,” Laliberté said.
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Earlier this year, Canada’s Minister of International Trade Mary Ng spoke with Taiwanese Minister John Deng.
The two agreed to start talks during the meeting on a possible foreign investment promotion and protection agreement between Canada and Taiwan – Canada’s sixth largest trading partner in Asia.
“It’s a very high level. I think that shows Canada’s support for democracy,” McCuaig-Johnston said, noting that Canada’s ships have been sent through the Taiwan Strait and the country’s strong diplomatic team in Taipei.
“I think the Canadians have to realize that we have to stand by our allies. Canada must remain strong. We have to stand up against this kind of rhetoric and bullying,” she said.
– With files from Saba Aziz, Reuters & The Canadian Press from Global News
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9041442/china-united-states-taiwan-canada/ China breaks off dialogue with US. What does this mean for Canada? – National