China is no friend to Canada

If Canadians keep hearing that we need ‘more, more, and more’ of an intimate relationship with Beijing, how quickly will we reach our limit?

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) as they prepare to inspect Chinese honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 31, 2016. Justin Trudeau is on a one week vist to China from August 30 to September 6 and will also attend the G20 Summit in Hangzhou.  (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) as they prepare to inspect Chinese honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 31, 2016.
Justin Trudeau is on a one week vist to China from August 30 to September 6 and will also attend the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty)

There is going to come a point, soon, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government will discover that Canadians have had just about enough of being told that what they need is “more, more, more” to do with China, as John McCallum, our ambassador to Beijing, likes to put it.

We’ve been hearing a great deal of this sort of thing lately as the processions of lobbyists, mandarins and yesteryear Liberal grandees slowly circle around the altar of a free-trade agreement with Xi Jinping’s police state. The problem is, we’ve heard the same hosannas in several variations over the past 30 years or so. And the consequences always seem to leave us with less, less and less.

What’s changed is that China has reverted to excesses of despotism that replicate the repressive superstructure that was on its way out in the days before the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. Beijing’s swaggering hybrid of robber-baron capitalism and Leninist discipline is not so easily disguised by the tailored suits and refined manner of its diplomats.

RELATED: Why the Liberals’ ugly ties to Beijing will make the work of a smart new cabinet harder

Take China’s new ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, for instance. Lu arrived in February straight from his post as director general of the policy research bureau in the foreign affairs department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. He has made it plain, in a series of interviews, that he wants a Canada-China free-trade agreement, on China’s terms, and he intends to brook no backchat from Canadians about human rights or democracy.

He has also made it clear that Beijing will require that its state-owned enterprises—the Chinese Communist Party’s overseas acquisitions arms—should be guaranteed full rights to assemble and possess any and all Canadian resources and corporate entities as Beijing may choose, and that any interference will be considered an impermissible restraint of trade.

As for what Canadians should look forward to, the speculative best-case scenario configured by the always bullish and buoyant Canada-China Business Council (a sort of fireside lounge for well-heeled Liberal party old-timers) pegs a boost in Canadian exports to China by $7.7 billion, and an added 25,000 jobs, by 2030. Well, wouldn’t that be nice. That would mark up our exports to China by 50 per cent to $21 billion, and so long as we’re not buying sweatshop products from China at a faster rate in 2030 than we already are, we might be induced to imagine our trade deficit with China coming down from current levels—already the highest trade deficit with any country Canada trades with—to something like $26 billion annually.

Less often observed by the China trade enthusiasts is the sum of roughly $20 billion that Canada and British Columbia have sunk into West Coast road, rail and port infrastructure over the past 25 years or so, all in a fever about the prospects of booming two-way trade with China. The investment has eased China’s access to American markets enormously. More recently, the costs of China’s 2014 hacking of the National Research Council’s mainframe computers has been estimated to run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

READ MORE: Canada’s colleges need Chinese students. But it’s not easy to recruit them.

As odd as it seems now, it wasn’t until four years ago that Canada stopped sending aid money to Beijing. Not until 2013 did it dawn on the Foreign Affairs department that China had become the world’s second-largest economy. Over its final 12 years, Canada’s aid package to China had cost Canadian taxpayers nearly a billion dollars. A great amount of that money was spent on democratization and law reform. All that money was wasted, as President Xi’s ferocious reversal of Chinese reforms has made so brutally clear.

The Chinese people have no recourse to anything like an independent judiciary. The Communist Party decides if you’re guilty or innocent. The conviction rate stands in excess of 98 per cent. Torture and forced confessions are commonplace. Xi has lately embarked on a vicious campaign of harassment and intimidation of workers’ rights activists, ethnic and religious minorities, and feminists. Scores of human rights lawyers have been rounded up and jailed. Borrowing from the example of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the authorities in Beijing describe these facts as “fake news.”

But Canadians aren’t so stupid, and the proposition that Canada could conclude an extradition treaty with a torture state like the People’s Republic of China—another demand Beijing’s emissaries have put on the table—is an insult to any reasonable person’s intelligence.

Opinion polls consistently show that Canadians are open to the world and open to trade, but harbour no enthusiasm for the requirement that Canadian law should pretend that a Chinese state-owned corporation operates just like any foreign private company. Canadians hold a very dim view of the Chinese regime, and to be hectored by our own political leaders that we need “more, more and more” of an intimate relationship with the gangsters in Beijing is to be pushed to the limit.

The sooner Justin Trudeau and his ministers notice that the limit is fast approaching, the better.


China is no friend to Canada

  1. Finally someone who speaks for Canadians…

    • As opposed to what? Were you expecting China to believe Canada have their best interest at heart?

      Any countries that have heavy ties to the U.S NEVER have anyone else’s best interest at heart. What bothers the world is that China is not scared like South Korea and Japan. That’s what the problem is. It’s about respect and it bothers the West that China don’t kow tow to them.

      • Thank you. A voice of reason on here.

  2. That is a rock in a hard place for the Trudeau government. The US or China. Even if we will not sign a free trade agreement with China we need to at least put on a good face that we are going to sign on. That will help with nafta negotiations.

    I wonder what kind of deal that Australia has with China and how that has affected their society? Environmentally it looks like Australia is a mess and that may have a lot to do with their trading with China.

  3. How long before Jr has to make a special trip to China and not be concerned about trade but worry if the women there can own their own business?

    • You are clearly uniformed as several of the nouveau billionaire CEOs in China are women.

  4. Thank you for that clear report. It is refreshing to read about Canada’s relationship with China without the blinders on. We, as Canadians, must beware of China – in human rights, trade and foreign affairs. They are nothing but a totalitarian government that is only interested in exploiting our national resources in a one-sided trade advantage which is supported by slave labour and unethical work practices and a total disregard to ecological principles. Not only are they an economic super power, but they are also a formidable military super power and they are NOT our friend. We need to get our Canadian manufacturing back in workable state of order and wean ourselves off the fish hook of cheap Chinese trade.

  5. While still in Opposition, Trudeau came out solidly in favour of allowing state-owned Chinese firms to buy out Canadian assets. He opposed Harper’s law against the same. That law was only passed after Harper was caught with his own pants down in the Nexen takeover – something that wouldn’t have happened had the proper legislation been in place already.

    Jr. actually penned an opinion piece that appeared in several publications singing the praises for Chinese “investment” in our resource industries. Now that he’s in power, he no doubt sees that “investment” as a shortcut to boosting GDP – and government revenue – that he couldn’t get otherwise. Some future government will have to deal with the consequences.

  6. Further to that, the conservatives should stay clear of choosing Mad Max as their leader, for the same reasons.

  7. Dr Norman Bethune. Chinese kids study him in school.


    I would love to have a free trade agreement with China

    Why are Cons so scared of everything?

    • Bethune was an admirer of the Chnese, just like Pierre and his offspring. I had to sit through a work lunch last week during which a coworker expounded on the various accomplishments of “Chairman Mao”. And I kid you not, she referred to him as ‘Chairman’. That’s every bit as sick as a German referring respectfully to ‘Chancellor Hitler’. When I asked her if his “accomplishments” were worth 40 million deaths, she said that was a Western myth, “just like Tianamen Square.” Two other Chinese coworkers let her have it at that point, which was very gratifying. There are some people, yourself among them, who will worship China’s communist dictatorship no matter what. Your refusal to even acknowledge reality, let alone accept it, will not prevent those of us who can still think clearly, from seeing China for exactly what it is.

      • China is a 5000 year old country that had 50 years of a dictatorship and somehow it’s warped your mind.

        .Contact me again when your hysteria stops and your mind settles

        • 5000 years of development and the best they can come up with is an oppressive communist system with no individual rights. Maybe in another 5000 years they’ll be ready to sign trade agreements with the grown ups.

          • Mao’s been dead since the 70s..

            Get hold of yourself.

          • If there were as many Canadians running around in Canada as there are Chinese in China, I’m pretty certain that we’d be a little more ‘security conscious’ than we are now – maybe even draconian. There would be far more employment opportunities in the justice system and prisons. Look what recent history has done to us.

  8. But-But Zoolander said he admired them they could turn their economy around on a dime..I’m so confused..

    • Yes Joe, you’re confused.

  9. “swaggering hybrid of robber-baron capitalism and Leninist discipline”? How does that compare to North America’s hybrid of red neck conservatives and robber-baron capitalism?
    “sweatshop products from China” that’s a dangerous presumption as the Chinese are currently the largest consumers of advanced automation equipment and robotics and own a substantial piece of manufacturing of all high tech products. Also, it’s not possible that all 1.4B people could be drones or that a country with a million millionaires is all sweatshop. I remember the era when Japanese cars were dismissed as cheap Japanese junk – look where that got us (and which auto companies so recently needed government life preservers)?
    So Canada’s west is heavily plumbed for certain exports – that’s just a vestige of Harper’s economic plans that focused on exports of raw materials while driving manufacturing into the ground with billions of subsidies to industry that relied on Chinese steel and Korean heavy equipment; in spite of those billions, they couldn’t keep a single heavy equipment manufacturer from leaving.
    One of the problems is that it is easier to export to and/or import from another country than another province. This makes it difficult to maximize domestic markets that would better support domestic industry. Retention of industries is difficult when the bulk of their markets are foreign and government support is lacking.

    • It was Chrétien that married us to the Chinese economy, not Harper. Harper passed a law to prevent them from buying out our industry. A law Trudeau opposed and might soon repeal.

      • Largest market in the world and Harp wanted no connection with it……Cons are lousy capitalists.

      • Considering they used to starve regularly within my memory and they kept the Canadian Wheat board in chips for almost 4 decades, they have done remarkably well in China. I read somewhere they now produce 2/3 of the food produced on earth. Who’d a thunk!

        And think of that still relatively untapped domestic market for consumer goods they’ve got – that would raise a lump in the trousers of the most hardened market protectionist.

        Interesting to note that a now long gone Canadian ‘success story’ Northern Telecom still exists … in China.

  10. China is willing to buy what we have to sell and we don’t have to give it away at Sam’s Club prices. But the day we are asked to change our laws so their law enforcement can operate here in hot pursuit of crime is the day we need to start being careful. We granted that privilege to our best friend and trading partner just last year. The USA already has our ‘permission’ to send in the US army to ‘protect’ our civil order.