Friday, April 22, 2016

China Angered as Canadian Politicians Talk Up Taiwan

China Angered as Canadian Politicians Talk Up Taiwan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau press conference, Ottawa, Canada - 12 Nov 2015

Canadian politicians have drawn China’s ire by supporting Taiwan just as the Trudeau administration seeks to enhance Canada-China ties.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Ottawa held its annual Taiwan Night last Wednesday, attended by Canadian politicians and officials who publicly support Taiwan.
Taiwan Night, now in its 20th year, has become a tradition for some of the Canadian Parliament, both from the Conservative and Liberal parties, to talk about their friendship and economic ties that defines the unofficial Canada-Taiwan relationship.
As participants took turns to speak, democracy became the apparent theme of this year’s Taiwan Night. The democratic systems of the two countries are a source of strong ties, an ideal that some MPs would like to see in other Asian countries.
Two Canadian MPs in particular were vocal in their support of Taiwan, and were the specific focus of criticism from the Chinese embassy.
Liberal MP Hedy Fry, a long-time attendee of Taiwan Night, spoke of her visit to Taiwan during the 2016 presidential elections and referred to Taiwan as a country several times. She sawTaiwan as “a country of creative, innovative people, highly educated people” and further elaborated, “Taiwan is a country that actually took what it had and built something great out of it.”
Another Liberal MP, Wayne Easter, initially chimed in on how Taiwan excels as a country, but the day after claimed his statement was a “slip of the tongue.” He said, “Though they really aren’t a country, you kind of see them that way because of the good relationship we have with Taiwan.”
The Chinese embassy protested the attendance of Canadian officials at Taiwan Night, claimingthat it “is a serious breach of Canada’s repeated commitment to the one-China policy, moreover it sends out a negative and misleading message.” Furthermore, Canada’s Immigration Minister John McCallum highlighted the Canadian government as “abundantly clear that our desire, intent is to broaden and deepen our ties with China across all dimensions” while referring to efforts to join the AIIB.
J. Michael Cole of Thinking Taiwan notes Canada’s “One China” policy only “takes note” of the view that Taiwan is a part of China, but it is entirely up to Ottawa to conduct and maintain “quiet diplomacy.” He sees the reaction from Chinese officials as just “making a fuss” and unofficial relations not to be a huge issue so long as it continues under “quiet diplomacy.”
It seems that Canada-Taiwan relations in the meantime will still be intact despite increased Canada and China relations; Taiwan is Canada’s fourth largest trading partner. Approximately 60,000 Canadian expatriates live in Taiwan while 250,000 Canadians are Taiwanese.