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From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.
Readers respond: China wants Canada to shut up. That’s exactly why we shouldn’t
China is carrying out their threats at many countries. Sweden, my other home country, is struggling with the same intimidating threats, and incarceration of its citizens, as Canada is. Why does each country work alone? Struggle together and it may have some effect. Little Sweden is strongly against Huawei and could use the support of a bigger country like Canada. –KalleJ
We should not be intimidated by China! –mak001
Great idea. Now is there a leader in Ottawa and a government to implement this? –toggle73
If the farmers and industries did a risk assessment before engaging with China, there would be no problem. –The Emperor’s Paparazzi
The trade relationship cannot be all on China’s terms, regardless of the size of their economy. Separate trade from other matters and don’t allow China to link trade to silence on other matters. Otherwise, Canada becomes no more than a dog on China’s leash. We should not agree to be collared, and there is a whole wide world to trade with if China doesn’t want our raw materials because we called them out on Tibet or Xinjiang or Hong Kong, or the next act in Taiwan. –wooly bully
I would suggest that Canada not engage with China. It may or may not soon be the largest economy, but only about 5 per cent of our exports go there. We see how it has used this against us, so it is not trustworthy and any business that trades with China does so at their own risk.
The farmers were taken unawares when China weaponized trade against them, and I would support government assistance as they find new markets. On the other hand, anyone undertaking new ventures in China should appreciate they are on a high-risk adventure that could go very wrong, including having their staff or principals nabbed off the street and thrown in jail indefinitely, without benefit of counsel.
The Canadian taxpayer should not be on the hook for business losses for those now on notice as to how aggressive and unprincipled China can be, and our government should not promote further trade with China. Instead, the governments in Canada and the provinces should help businesses to venture into the many countries with which we have new trading agreements. They should also take down trade barriers within Canada and shift supply lines home. –res ipsa loquitor
Canada should stop doing business with China. Any entanglements with China can only be wildly asymmetric and work to Canada’s ultimate disadvantage, which is what we are seeing now. Until China can free itself from Xi Jinping’s grip, we should walk away. –Moseby1
A start would be for all Five Eyes countries to have a uniform position on Huawei, and then implement it. –George Bay
Donald Trump has been the only leader willing to stand up to China. The West needs to follow his lead and speak with one voice. The people of Hong Kong and Taiwan deserve this. If we do not, we are part of the problem and it will take longer for Xi Jinping to fall. –NEA2
Chinese threats seem empty. They may try to harm us economically, but we are stronger than that. Our government can help farmers and we are not dependent on Chinese government money. The problem is our business people who got tangled up in supply chains with China. They should have been discouraged from getting involved with a regime that is not an ally, or at least warned about the risks. I suppose I will get a response something to the effect that if they didn’t get involved with China, they would lose out to competitors’ pricing and margin advantages. It just goes to show the pitfalls of a globalist system that creates winners and losers. Sometimes its a win, sometimes not. –jnextday
A very confusing editorial that suggests Canada do something, but not at risk of harming our economy or causing further anger from the Chinese Communist Party. It suggests further alignment with our allies in confronting China, but without provoking it. The editorial seems to suggest an even weaker stance in dealing with China than the current policy of the Liberal government.
We have already gone down the path of obtaining support from our allies, whose response was empathy and distancing from our problem. We have ignored the intimidation and pretended that it is business as usual with the Chinese, in spite of the hostages. We are now engaged in a policy of silence so as not to further provoke.
There should be no more pretending that there is not a schism between Canada and China. We should close down all Chinese consulate offices in Canada; reduce the number of Chinese government personnel in this country by 90 per cent; ban Huawei and its services and products from Canada; set a date of five years to reduce Canada’s dependence by 90 per cent on any products made in China; show some guts. –moon howler
If Meng Wanzhou was to act honorably, she’d call her father and ask him to ask Xi Xinping to release the Canadian hostages and return them to their families. She enjoys this country, does business with this country, owns homes in this country, educates her kids in this country. If she desires the privilege Canada has to offer, she’d do the Canadian thing, the right thing, and ask her dad to get the Michaels home. If she does that, then she’ll gain my respect and admiration and she will have then earned the right to be here. –CDNeXpat31
Free Meng Wanzhou! And free the two Michaels! We should never have participated in this U.S. plot, particularly because Canada didn’t support the Iran sanctions. As stated, there are alternate routes for the United States to pursue its goals. The price Canada has paid is too great and the U.S. did not give a damn about the consequences of their actions on Canada and Canadians. –Barbara1945
What burns my shorts is that the United States picks and chooses when it wants Canada to be a friend. They rely on our adherence to the rule of law, but then impose arbitrary sanctions on our auto parts manufacturers or steel producers.
I think the real problem here is that Canada needs to play more hardball with both the U.S. and China. Either extradite Meng Wanzhou or get some real concessions from the U.S. Otherwise we’ll seem to be everyone’s whipping boy. –Sahd Man
We need a conclusion to this case one way or the other. The more interesting story at this point is why the legal case has not be resolved a year after it started. Given the national and economic importance of the case, anyone involved, from judge on down, should work on nothing other than this case until it is concluded. –Booflette
Canadians should be acutely aware of the length of time involved in extraditing someone, assuming the person wishes to exhaust all their legal recourse. If they have the means and motivation to challenge the extradition, the process is very lengthy. To illustrate, recall that Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial won’t even begin until 14 months after her arrest. The trial itself could easily take a year or two. Then there are multiple levels of appeal after that.
In short, it’s conceivable that it could take a decade to complete Ms. Meng’s extradition. Seven to eight years, minimum.
Now recall that there are two Canadians in China with death sentences hanging over them, while two other Canadians are facing very serious charges that could bring the same consequence. Those individuals will under no circumstance be released and returned to Canada until Ms. Meng is released and returned to China.
Every day that Ms. Meng is detained by Canada is another day that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor face in a Chinese prison, and that two other Canadians face on death row. –Richard Roskell
Arresting Meng Wanzhou looks to be the single biggest foreign policy mistake made by any prime minister of Canada in the last 30 years. It has destroyed Canada-China relations, at a time when Canada-U.S. relations are weak. It has hammered markets for our farmers and exporters, and to what benefit? The United States has shown zero appreciation for our efforts. Rule of law? See SNC-Lavalin. –CK00
Excellent piece. I wish more minds in Ottawa were aligned with its thrust. Standing up to bullies is costly. Not standing up to them is costlier. –William Blake
Far be it for me to question the deeply learned David Mulroney on matters China, but isn’t the real question: Shouldn’t Ottawa have picked up the phone and made sure Meng Wanzhou didn’t board her flight to Vancouver, once it learned of the warrant? –amvs
Readers respond: Beijing’s harshness is forcing Canada to rethink its China delusions
I agree with this article wholeheartedly, with the minor caveat that China is not Canada’s second most-important economic relationship. The European Union is, though obviously everyone else is so distant from our trade with the United States that second most-important ceases to be a particularly meaningful relationship.
Canada’s trade with China only constitutes about 3 to 5 per cent of total trade.
Canada must remain clear-eyed and avoid falling into the all-too-common trap of perceiving the Chinese to be 20 feet tall, or even all that economically important to us. The fact is that China is an economic paper tiger and a bit player in the Canadian economy. –Fojar38
What is worrisome to me is that China is renowned for its long-term strategic planning. Are we now just tasting a sample of what is yet to come, or is this a blip in judgement? I am sure that it has been an eye-opener for all of us. By the way, China as the schoolyard bully seems to have united Canadians as few others have, and we will govern ourselves accordingly. –Lawrence from Toronto
Canadians would do well to move our discretionary spending away from Chinese goods as much as possible, as soon as possible.
In some cases that might mean spending three times as much money to buy goods that last three times as long.
The load on our landfill sites would diminish substantially. –bandwigglin
The author is perfectly correct. We need to learn from relatively minor issues, such as complying with a U.S. extradition treaty at the apparent expense of a Chinese citizen.
Matters will come to a head when China starts to encounter limits to its growth. There are simply not enough resources on the planet to afford every Chinese citizen a standard of living any way near the West. It cannot expect to continue to build coal-powered electricity plants, thereby adding to net global emissions, without serious push-back, either.
Once the pressure starts to build on the Chinese leadership, I expect things will get ugly. Theirs is a regime that penalizes even the tiniest infraction. They also maintain a large network of prison camps full of people who do not fit the mould. It feels like a police state. –Redmaple
I’m sorry but that is just wrong what John Manley is proposing. As much as I feel for the two Michaels, they aren’t really the concern in this case. They are separate issues and Canada cannot cave in to blackmail from the Chinese. –p cuevas
Suggesting a hostage exchange could have easily been written by the Chinese foreign ministry, because it is exactly how the Chinese view the matter and how they think it could be resolved.
The shallow thinking behind much of what passes as Canadian foreign policy must end. Canada has had plenty of time to understand what motivates China’s aggression and their dismissal of using diplomacy to lessen friction between nations.
Who cannot see that what China wants China gets? That is, unless the rest of the world is prepared to take visible, concerted and co-ordinated action to stop Chinese aggression now. No doubt the cost to the Western world will be high. The alternative, final cost is war, which is much worse.
But if Canada’s ultimate goal is to appease the Chinese into releasing the Canadians now held hostage, then all that other liberal democracies can look forward to is being picked off one by one in similar fashion. It would ultimately result in the surrender of their sovereignty and even their democratic traditions, finding them replaced by a totalitarian world order bent on extinguishing the very thought of human freedom. –Craftsmen18
There is no moral equivalence between these two situations for there to be a swap. China arrested two people for doing nothing other than being Canadians. We arrested one person based on a warrant backed by evidence. Meng Wanzhou has the opportunity to consult and be represented by lawyers; the two Canadians detained by China have no such opportunity. Ms. Meng is given access to comfortable luxury quarters while waiting for an answer; the two Canadians are held in solitary confinement in rooms without windows and the lights never turned off.
And the way to deal with the situation, according to John Manley, is to give into the bully’s demands? What’s to stop China from solving any future issue by arbitrarily arresting Canadians and swapping them for anyone charged in Canada they want freed? –MK199
No, no, no!
Never reward bad behaviour.
The road Canada is travelling is the right one.
More behind the scenes pressuring of our allies are in order.
The Western world must stand up to this sort of behaviour.
Even if it hurts a little in the short term, the long term payoff is far more desirable. –guy up north
I am totally against this suggestion. As a Canadian with a business in China, I fear for my associates and myself. If Canada did a prisoner swap, this would be the start of a slippery slope. Every time Canada does something China does not like, we will be swooped off the streets of Beijing and held for months, if not years. A ridiculous, shameful and partisan suggestion. –David Bromley
Readers respond: Here’s how Canada can show China that we mean business
A well-written column.
The message is of measured and proportionate steps.
Be that as it may, Canada should be steadily, carefully unwinding its trade relationship with China. It is not merely the hostage takings.
It is the stance in the South China Sea, the artificial islands and ignoring international court decisions.
Or the one-sided relationships of the Belt and Road Initiative that pose dependency traps for financially weak developing nations lacking strong democratic institutions.
Or the aggressive stance on Arctic navigation and economic exploitation.
It is the growth and export of the machinery of totalitarian surveillance; the bullying of Hong Kong and of Central Asians, which sends a message of contempt to the nations that agreed to Chinese entry into the World Trade Organization.
China has repeatedly shown it is not willing to conform to international law as developed since the Peace of Westphalia. Canada’s national interest, like all middle nations, depends on other nations conforming to international law.
There is no point shouting at Beijing.
The best way to protect Canadians should be to reduce any vulnerable exposure to China by quietly, carefully, unwinding our trading relationship. –OldBanister
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