TORONTO - In my limited experience with China, I came to appreciate the complexity of its people’s approach to personal and national challenges as well as to the importance they place on (i) playing the long game, (ii) respecting the significance of friendship, and (iii) maintaining “face”. They do not leave much to chance.
In the late 1900s, my counterpart on the Canada-China Legislative Committee – a former Economic and Industry Development Minister in the Middle Kingdom – asked if we could arrange to have our Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, attend at the commissioning of the CANDU reactor China had bought from us.
His reasoning was that China could have just as easily acquired one less expensively from our competitors, the French, but they preferred to work with Canada because of our developing friendship and deference to our role in opening the West’s eyes onto the value of China. Our departmental officials must have had a different view because our Prime Minister declined.
Coincidently, subsequent to the rebuff, Canada-China relations began to cool. Nonetheless, new Prime Minister Paul Martin, in 2005, hosted a visit of Hu Jintao, then Chinese President to Canada, as part of the re-normalization of relations. It did not last long.
When the Conservatives assumed control of government, one of the first decisions of prime Minister Stephen Harper was to boycott the Beijing Olympics, allegedly because Canada’s new government was trying to underscore its objection to perceived/real human rights abuses by China. The USA and others who had been making the same “noises” walked back their threats, leaving Canada to hold the bag. Chinese diplomats began to speak openly and vociferously in undiplomatic language about Canada and its Prime Minister.
Today, we express outrage that the Chinese hold Canadians - the two Michaels – “hostage” on “trumped up charges” finding one of them, Spavor, guilty of espionage on Wednesday, August 11.
Thank you to the Americans whose request that we detain and incarcerate the daughter of the Founder of Huawei, telecommunications giant, Meng Wenzhou while they were preparing a case against her. She is in court awaiting a decision to permit her extradition to the USA, which has not yet dropped its request of Canada to stay true to the initial ask.
There is an anticipated election call for this weekend. One of the emerging issues is Global Affairs and the need to establish security: economic, cyber and political. The USA is vital, China represents our “growth potential”.
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