May 18, 2024

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Canada-China Relations | Warrior wolves bare their teeth

Canada-China Relations |  Warrior wolves bare their teeth

When covering international affairs, you will often be invited to meet with diplomats. These warm conversations help us open doors in a country of interest. My last meeting with a Chinese ambassador to Canada was quite the opposite.

During an interview at the Chinese Embassy in Montreal in August 2022, Ambassador Kang Beiwu did not raise his voice, but his words were as sharp as knives.

As for Taiwan. On criticizing China over human rights. Canada must “learn a lesson” following the arbitrary imprisonment of two of its citizens in response to the detention of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the Huawei founder, at the request of the United States.

At the end of this awkward interview, I was asked to leave Rapido presto Waiting for a taxi on the street inside the embassy, ​​I told myself I had met the “wolf warrior” version of Chinese diplomacy. The approach adopted under Xi Jinping in 2017 is characterized by a warlike style of confrontation. Like the hero of the Chinese action films that gave its name to this tactic of international relations, the “wolf warriors” defend their country and the Chinese Communist Party tooth and nail against all criticism.

Or, should we say protected?

Since last summer, many experts have noted that Xi Jinping’s China has begun a transition. The chief wolf warrior, Zhao Lizhong, the former spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was suddenly transferred to another department. Minister Qin Jang literally disappeared overnight.

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What about Ambassador Kong Beiwu?

We learned last month that the ambassador, who was in Canada during much of the Wanzhou affair, left Canada without the usual farewell tour.

A few days before learning of his departure, he gave an interview to The Canadian Press in which he said he believed there was no reason for Canadian-Chinese relations to be bad, but laid out conditions for them to improve. In these, Canada takes all the blame for diplomatic tensions between the two countries and, in the name of “mutual respect,” sides with China’s view of the democratic self-governing island of Taiwan that Xi Jinping is threatening to forcefully bring back into mainland China. Two giant snakes swallow, though the tone is a little more conciliatory.

We now have to see who the Chinese government is going to appoint to replace him. More diplomatic or an expert at arm-twisting?

The good news is that the past few months have given us a glimpse into what have seemed like stormy skies between China and the West.

Photo by Marc Schieffelbein, Agence France-Presse

Last week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Xi Jinping in Beijing.

First, in Beijing, heads of state and handshakes are on the rise. Last week, Xi received US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, ten days after Emmanuel Macron succeeded German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

On Tuesday, the French president and the Chinese president will climb the Pyrenees together, marking Xi Jinping’s first visit to Europe since the pandemic.

For Canada, it’s a little more complicated, but Minister Melanie Jolie has spoken with her Chinese counterpart, Wong Yee, twice since the start of the year. On 18 and 19 April, his Deputy Minister, David Morrison, traveled to Beijing for talks with his Vice Minister, Ma Zhaoxu. I contacted Global Affairs Canada to learn more about the results of its work, but the press service took two days and finally gave me no response.

We believe that these meetings are only the beginning of a rapprochement in business circles that have been affected by the limp state of Sino-Canadian relations. “Re-establishing channels of communication is the first step to normalizing business. “We don’t expect China and Canada to become best friends again overnight, but having a stable diplomatic relationship will help businesses that want to operate in the world’s second-largest economy.” Council, he said, as he prepared to fly to Beijing, from where he will head to the organization’s office. He will lead.

Oddly enough, trade was little affected by the diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing. Canadian exports to the Middle Kingdom have also increased in recent years. “Canada-China trade represents 40% of our trade in the Indo-Pacific, but only 4% of our exports,” says Mr. Perez-Desrosiers. There is still a lot of room for growth. »

Although China’s tone has softened a bit these days, there is a sea of ​​resentment and grievances between the two countries. China does not want to be seen as a “disruptive” power in Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy. These days, Canada is pondering the extent of Xi Jinping’s country’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

Should we be talking about secret police stations in Canada to monitor the Chinese diaspora, or the expulsion of consular officials from both sides?

Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China, noted that Canada is currently in a position of demand. “That said, Minister Melanie Jolie will probably only have to do half a generation. The Chinese need foreign capital,” he believes. Economic slowdown in China — especially among 16-24 year olds. Marked by a high unemployment rate – unrelated to a shift in Chinese diplomacy.

It would be great if the warrior wolves bared their teeth. However, Canada knows more than most that it needs to carefully rebuild its relationships. A wolf remains a wolf.