IN THIS EDITION: a revealing Global Affairs report about China, COVID-19’s impact on Canada-China trade and coming up on the one-year canola anniversary.

Global Affairs Canada Diagnostic on Canada-China Relations

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marta Morgan, provided a number of documents for the new Special Committee on Canada-China Relations (see last week’s Brief for more on the committee). One of these documents, a “concise diagnostic [that was prepared] for the incoming Minister of Foreign Affairs … on how to approach relations with China,” has caused considerable stir in how it views China.

The document says that the relationship between the two countries is at its lowest point since the establishment of formal relationships in 1970. It argues overall for a more cautious and less optimistic approach to China. The piece argues that, “as the PRC continues to bolster its assertive foreign policy demeanour, Canada must promote and defend its values in close partnership with like-minded allies and coalitions.”

The Globe and Mail released an editorial calling this the right advice for the government: “After years of seeing China as a land of rainbows and dollar signs, the government is no longer receiving advice from Fantasy Island.”

Curiously, according to the CBC, the 2019 Global Affairs Canada paper also warns of dangers with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, “as an example of how Beijing promotes perspectives on governance, economic security and human rights that diverge in fundamental ways from Canada’s.” A view at odds with other analysis like the Washington, D.C. based Center for Strategic and International Studies and Canada West Foundation.

COVID-19 Impacts on Canada-China Economic Relationship

With much of the Chinese economy shut down due to efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus, the Canadian economy is already feeling the pressure from the sudden drop in Chinese activity.

It’s unknown what the extent of the impact will be on the global economy as a whole – that depends on how long it takes to contain the virus.

Tourism in Canada has already taken a significant hit, particularly on the West Coast. In B.C., bookings from China are estimated to be down 70 per cent. Some Canadian tourism companies have entirely pulled their advertising from China and are trying to pull in people from other markets to make up from the loss. In 2018 there was a record 737,000 Chinese tourists in Canada, spending $1.8 billion.

Air Canada has pulled all of its flights from China until April 10. Normally, Air Canada operates direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Airports in Canada will feel the pinch from this as well. It’s predicted that Vancouver Airport will have 1.3 million fewer passengers than previously expected due to the virus.

Port traffic will hurt in Vancouver as will. The CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority says that China traffic is way down, and if the virus spreads, it could significantly reduce the amount of trade from Japan and South Korea as well.

Other stories

• The Canola Council of Canada has asked the government for more action in the canola dispute with China, as we near the one-year anniversary of Canadian canola seed being banned from the country.

• An MP on the Canada-China relations committee is proposing that Canada treat China’s state media outlets as foreign missions. Another piece – featuring our Director of Trade and Investment, Carlo Dade – warns that the attacks coming from some members of the Canada-China relations committee threaten to turn it into a “committee for un-Canadian activities.”

• The United States is sending its point man on Huawei to Ottawa to pressure the federal government on barring Huawei from Canada’s 5G.

• This article about Globe and Mail reporter John Ibbitson’s new book, Empty Planet, says that while China is going to be the most important market for agricultural commodities “for awhile,” this will change as China’s population begins to shrink. Ibbitson’s advice is for Canadian farmers to begin to look toward India where population growth will continue.

– 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.