Monday, July 15, 2019

O'TOOLE: Trudeau government worsens China crisis

O'TOOLE: Trudeau government worsens China crisis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gestures as he responds to a question during an arm chair discussion at the Canadian Teachers Federation annual general meeting in Ottawa, Thursday July 11, 2019.
The diplomatic dispute between Canada and China is in its seventh month and seems to get worse with each passing week.
Image result for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor
Two Canadian citizens — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — continue to face harsh conditions in a Chinese jail in a detention best described as diplomatic hostage-taking.
The economic impact of trade disruption with China has already cost the Canadian economy billions.  The situation is bad and is made worse by the fact that Justin Trudeau appears to have had no plan from the start of this China Crisis. The Liberals have ignored countless suggestions from the Conservatives.
The biggest mistake made by Justin Trudeau in the China Crisis was his underestimation of the likely response by China following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in December 2018.  Relations with China were already frosty after Trudeau’s unsuccessful state visit to China in 2017. Trudeau’s team promised the state visit would spark bilateral free trade negotiations, but Trudeau’s insistence on publicly lecturing China on labour and other reforms as part of his “progressive agenda” campaign turned China away from engagement.
Recently released documents show senior civil service advisors told Trudeau to be careful about his posturing on this progressive campaign because it was setting back Canadian interests.
Image result for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor
With this in mind, it is not surprising that the Justice Department and RCMP provided the prime minister with a special briefing about the pending arrest of Meng several days ahead of the arrest.  As the CFO of one of China’s “national champions” and as the daughter of the founder of the company, Meng was the equivalent of state royalty in China.  It is highly unusual for the prime minister to be personally briefed about an arrest, but officials knew that China would be upset by the arrest. The briefing gave the Liberals time to prepare a plan to mitigate the impact of this action, but they did not respond with a plan.
Rather than reaching out at senior levels to explain the extradition process and he fact that Meng would be treated fairly and likely be released on bail quickly, nobody reached out. This was followed by embarrassing public missteps and vacillations from Trudeau’s hand-picked Ambassador John McCallum, who had to resign in disgrace.Image result for Trudeau’s hand-picked Ambassador John McCallum,
It seems like McCallum won’t go away because he’s been back in the news lobbying China to help the Liberals win the next election. After seven months, there has been no high-level outreach from Canada and no ambassador on the ground.
Since the beginning, Conservatives asked the prime minister to get directly involved and made a series of recommendations that were all ignored. We echoed the calls from former ambassadors to China to send a special envoy to try to restart conversations after months of diplomatic silence.  Yet the situation deteriorated to the point that after five months, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland made an embarrassing public plea for the Chinese to talk to her.
Image result for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor
A Conservative government under Andrew Scheer would implement a coherent China strategy, taking a harder line on China’s missteps.
On trade, a Conservative government would challenge China’s actions on canola and meat imports through the World Trade Organization and withdraw funding from the Chinese-run Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Conservatives would install a new ambassador in China to reset diplomatic relations and ensure that all ministers who visit China focus on the plight of the detained Canadians, rather than pretending things are completely normal and selling ice cream, as Export Promotion Minister Mary Ng insensitively did a week ago.
Image result for selling ice cream export Promotion Minister Mary NgRelated image
A Conservative government will lead on the China file by jettisoning the photo-ops and fluffy politics and dealing with President Xi Jinping on a serious, peer-to-peer level as a G7 country should.

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