In this edition: China’s ambassador to Canada says adios; Huawei CFO Meng’s trial is postponed until 2020; and Canada Goose thrives in Beijing.

“The Canada-China relationship is now a smoking rubble.”– Paul Wells, Maclean’s

One Big Story: The China-Canada relationship shows no sign of improvement

Since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou at the beginning of December 2018, the Canada-China relationship has been in freefall –with little indication of an improved relationship on the horizon. Here’s the latest:

• China’s ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, is being moved out of Canada (to be ambassador to France). Lu has become known in Canada for his bombastic and aggressive language –for example, accusing Canadians of taking part in a “witch hunt” against China and saying calling on China to release Canadians arrested on spurious charges in China is “white supremacy.” His move to France is seen as a promotion, so many speculate that China likes Lu’s aggressive approach. There is speculation that either Lu will not be replaced for some time, or his replacement will be similarly aggressive.

• China’s customs agency is planning to increase inspections of Canadian pork imports, citing “recent cases of non-compliance of pork shipments” as the main reason.

• Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he is worried that China could broaden its crackdown on Canadian exports.

He also mused about meeting with President Xi at the G20, saying “we will see whether it would be appropriate or desirable.”

• Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says that Canada should send a former Canadian prime minister to China to try to get the imprisoned Canadians released –but not himself: he proposed former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

• British Columbia’s Supreme Court has said that Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing will begin on January 20, 2020–more than a year after she was arrested–and could drag on for months.

• The Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has been told that China is targeting Canadians who monitor human rights abuses in China, which includes using online surveillance against Canadians and Chinese officials making threats.

• On June 4 – the 30thanniversary of the Chinese crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests – Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland released a statement calling on “Chinese authorities to break the silence on these events by openly accounting for the Chinese citizens who were killed, detained or went missing.” The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa responded by saying that Freeland made “gross accusations on China’s human rights and religious situation,” and that the Canadian government flagrantly interfered in the internal affairs of China.

From our shop:

• Our Trade & Investment Director, Carlo Dade, was interviewed by the Calgary Eyeopener, where he said that China’s latest move to ramp up the inspection of Canadian pork is a reminder that, while trade agreements are very important, they also depend on the “political situation and mood for co-operation among parties.”

He noted that China has “done a very good job of establishing evidence and establishing precedent for what they’re doing [with canola and pork, for example].” So even though there may be nothing wrong with Canadian canola, China still goes through the process of giving warnings to justify their actions.

In other news:

• Even with the tense relationship between Canada and China, iconic Canadian brands have recently been thriving in China –including companies like Tim Hortons and Canada Goose.

• This deep-dive in the Globe and Mail looks at the American and Chinese military bases in Djibouti, a tiny country in the Horn of Africa. The bases are only 12 km apart, and tensions between the two are often high.

• As Western countries grapple with the conundrum of Huawei, Russia has “welcomed the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei” to build part of its 5G network.

During President Xi’s three-day visit to Moscow (the Huawei deal being revealed during this trip), Xi referred to Russian President Putin as his “best friend and colleague.”

– Sarah Pittman, policy analyst

The China Brief is a compilation of stories and links related to China and its relationship with Canada’s West. The opinions expressed in the links are those of the articles’ authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the Canada West Foundation and our affiliates.