IN THIS EDITION: Canada votes on genocide declaration, China diversifies importers, Asia Pacific largest area for plant protein growth


Don’t forget to register for the first Zoom Session in CWF’s Trade Ahead Western Canada Speaker Series on February 24 from 6-7 p.m. (MT)  Dr. Deborah Elms, President of the Asian Trade Centre, and co-moderators Chris Dekker, President and CEO, Saskatchewan Trade Export Partnership, Mariette Mulaire, President and CEO, World Trade Centre Winnipeg, and Mustafa Sahin, Vice President, Investment & Trade, Edmonton Global will discuss the Rest of Asia: From ASEAN, to CPTPP and RCEP.


Canada votes on genocide declaration 

Canada’s House of Commons voted 266-0 to recognize the treatment of the Uighurs as genocide. Federal cabinet ministers abstained from the vote. China expressed “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition prior to the vote in a statement from Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu. Charles Burton of the McDonald-Laurier Institute said Canada’s strategy to gain the release of the two Michaels through goodwill has not worked. Former Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said last month it was not for Canada to tell another country it is wrong, our role is to go in and work with them and learn. 

Concerns over genocide as well as the two Michaels have led Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole to call for the 2022 Olympics to be moved from Beijing. A subsequent House of Commons motion passed 229-29 asking the International Olympic Committee to move the Games. Other officials have called for a boycott. However there are some who argue that such moves are unfair as Canada has not enacted any other economic or political sanctions, so athletes would be disproportionately affected compared to other sectors.  

Canada also provoked China last week with its announcement of a 58-nation initiative on arbitrary detentions. The signatories vowed to stop detentions of individuals for diplomatic leverage. China said that the move was a confession that the detention of Meng Wanzhou was a mistake. 

China diversifies importers 

Neil Townsend, Chief Market Analyst with Farmlink Marketing Solutions, and the Canadian Meat Council agree that China is diversifying its supply chains because of COVID-19, African Swine Fever, and trade tensions. Sharon Zhengyang Sun, Trade Policy Analyst at CWF, highlighted the threats and opportunities as China diversifies its trade in terms of grain products in a recent blog post. The Western Producer also added insights in terms of where China has added beef, poultry, and pork importers since 2000. 

China’s expansion efforts have paid off in the European Union. China overtook the United States as the European Union’s top trade partner in 2020. U.S. exports to the EU dropped 13.2 per cent while China’s exports grew 5.6 per cent. U.S. imports of EU goods dropped 8.2 per cent while Chinese imports of EU goods rose 2.2 per cent. 

China continues to influence agriculture markets in 2021 

China failed to meet its 2020 purchase target of $36.5 billion under its agreement with the United States. The commitment for 2021 is $43.4 billion which, if met, could increase global grain and seed oil prices over the year. CWF has noted that this was expected and that the purchase agreements are only one part of the U.S.-China trade deal. On the more important substance, what former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer referred to as “structural changes to trade,” China has in the analysis of the USTR office, met its obligations.  

China will be the “primary driver of livestock markets in the year ahead,” says Martha Roberts, Farm Credit Canada analyst, in a recent report. China’s recovery from African Swine Fever (ASF) and restaurant re-openings should increase demand. As a result, Roberts predicts Western Canadian hog prices will drop to $75 per hundredweight and feed barley prices will increase six per cent. 

Asia Pacific largest area for plant protein growth 

A new report from ReporterLinker.Com, Plant-based Protein Market by Source, And Region – Global Forecast to 2026, projects the plant protein sector will reach US$15.6 billion by 2026 with a compound annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent. The report points to the Asia Pacific region as the largest area for growth, including China. And China, India, and Japan will also see significant feed sector increases which will be tied to the overall growth of the plant protein industry. 

Hero Protein, a domestic Chinese plant-based meat company, recently received US$850,000 from a pre-seeding round to begin production. The company would be the first domestic Chinese company to use high moisture extrusion technology to create plant-based meat. Foreign companies such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Gardein and others already use this technology.  

National security concerns over research and state hackers 

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) funded Huawei Canada studies in computer and electrical engineering research. Other countries, such as the U.S. and United Kingdom, have stopped funds from going to Huawei over national security and economic concerns.  

David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), recently remarked on his concerns over China and its threats to national security interests. Vigneault identified the biopharmaceutical and health, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, ocean technology and aerospace as most at risk from state hackers. 

Everything Else 

  • While the world builds 5G capability, a new “arms race is building over 6G. The United States and China are in the race to achieve speeds 100x faster than 5G. 
  • Despite a continuation of Trump policies, Chinese think tank the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) see opportunities with the Biden administration on digital trade, cross-border data flows, cybercrime and cyberspace. 
  • A recent Foreign Policy article looks at the challenges the new U.S. administration faces in balancing domestic American First policies with renewed commitments to multilateralism on China. From the article: “Put bluntly, if Biden’s domestic-focused agenda actually comes through, it is likely to make it harder for him to push the kind of economic and trade policies that might attract partner nations in Asia and rebuild the United States’ broader economic influence.” 
  • China’s first bilateral trade deal with an African nation, Mauritius, recently came into effect. For more on why this matters, read this article from the World Economic Forum or this piece from Nikkei Asia.  
  • The Americans and Canadians aren’t the only ones struggling with eliminating vestiges of anti-black racism blackface. Once again, China’s national broadcaster has come under fire for use of black face in its New Year’s celebrations broadcast.  

– Stephany Laverty, 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.