Mark Collins – New Government’s Stealthy Diplomacy Promoting Sino-Canadian Relations

Further to this post,

“China’s government is not Canada’s friend”

Prime Minister Trudeau seems to be doing a careful soft-shoe dance in search of the filthy yuan (a search the preceding Conservative government also joined in the end):

China’s foreign minister to meet with Trudeau in Ottawa

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold high-level talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill on Wednesday [June 1] as planning gets under way for Mr. Trudeau’s official visit to China in the fall.

Mr. Wang is also meeting Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion in what the Chinese government said is the first annual meeting of foreign affairs ministers. The two men will discuss the upcoming G20 summit, global issues and human rights, Mr. Dion’s office said.

Charles Burton, a former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing [now a professor and rather a hard-ass regarding China–he advocates “principled realism“], expressed surprise that the government had not informed Canadians that it has set up a formalized arrangement for annual talks with China’s foreign minister.

“You would have thought if Canada had established a formal mechanism for regular meetings between cabinet ministers of the two countries, normally one would expect that would have been publicly announced. It is quite a major thing,” Mr. Burton said in an interview.

Mr. Wang’s visit was announced Monday in Beijing and late Tuesday in Ottawa. Usually such visits are made public days before the event.

“The fact that this visit by a foreign minister of a major country has been done more or less secretly, presumably to prevent public demonstrations and representations being made about it, so it looks like the government is going about the China policy process in a way that will limit public debate,” Mr. Burton said.

The Prime Minister has made re-engagement with China a key foreign policy initiative as his government presses for a free-trade deal with the world’s second-largest economy – even as polls show Canadians have a very negative impression of the Chinese government and are narrowly opposed to a free-trade deal with the country…

China has made it a precondition of negotiations on free trade that Canada ensure an energy pipeline from the oil sands to the coast of British Columbia [one can but hope regarding Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion]. It also wants the federal government to lift foreign investment restrictions on Chinese state-own enterprises in the oil and gas sector [see “China open to historic free-trade deal with Canada under certain provisos”].

Mr. Trudeau promised before last fall’s election that he would lift the restrictions that were put in place by the former Conservative government, although Mr. Burton noted that Canada’s security agencies have concerns about Chinese control of vital Canadian resource companies.

“You have Canadian security agencies who are concerned about more Chinese state investment leading to more security problems. It seems to be the security agencies, human-rights groups and public opinion at large are wanting more input into the process which we engage China,” Mr. Burton said.

Mr. Trudeau’s former national security adviser, Richard Fadden, said the Chinese have been heavily engaged in spying and cyber attacks in Canada.

“Their broad approach is to use the vacuum cleaner approach. They’ll, you know, pretty well take anything,” Mr. Fadden, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said in an interview on Sunday. “So I think it’s actually quite difficult to balance all of this and make sure we have a work-a-day relationship, while at the same time making it very clear we don’t like the cyber attacks.”..

Scroll down to 2) here for more from Mr Fadden on China, and note links at end of the post. Also relevant:

Ethnic Chinese Abroad: Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon Says Beijing

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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12 thoughts on “Mark Collins – New Government’s Stealthy Diplomacy Promoting Sino-Canadian Relations”

  1. Good question about Chinese foreign minister’s Ottawa visit:

    See also on South China Sea:

    Mark Collins

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