Will Canada finally yield under Chinese pressure?

Last updated on January 12th, 2019

Chinese ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye has lashed out at the country for its “double standards” in dealing with accused Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese IT company Huawei. In a column published in The Hill Times on Wednesday, the diplomat said the handling of Meng reeks of “Western egotism and white supremacy”.

Lu Shaye has criticized Canada and called it double faced for demanding the release of two detained Canadians, while it has “unlawfully” arrested Meng. It is evident from Shaye’s choice of words that he speaks what Beijing wants to tell the Trudeau government. The tongue-lashing is seen by most Canadians and the US as a feeble attempt by China to turn public opinion in its favor.

Legal and extradition experts say Lu Shaye comparing Meng’s arrest to China’s detention of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor is twisted. While Meng was arrested at the behest of USA on charges of huge financial fraud, the reasons behind the arrest of the two Canadians are still unknown.

In what was actually a trade war between USA and China, Canada got sucked in unwittingly. Lu Shaye has accused that the Western world is scared that Chinese companies like Huawei will take over American giants, and this has made them uneasy.

With Meng’s arrest in Vancouver in December, the relation between China and Canada are already strained. The friction comes at a time when the Canadian government had initiated talks to build economic ties with the Asian nation. Media reports say Chinese are jacking up a social media movement to boycott products from Canada. In the meanwhile, Canadians are getting edgy about traveling to China for fear of being randomly detained by Chinese authorities.

With USA pressurizing for Meng’s extradition and China arm-twisting, Canada is facing the heat from two of its largest trading partners. US President Donald Trump’s relationship with the Canadian PM has not been anything to write home about. While Canadian authorities have maintained that Meng’s arrest has no political connotations, and that she will have to go with the law of the country, Trump in an interview to Reuters, had said that he would intervene in Meng’s extradition would help working on a trade deal with China.

Till now, USA has been the biggest trading partner of Canada. In November, Jim Carr, the minister for international trade diversification was hoping to crack a free trade deal with China as the country charted new markets and trading partners. But Meng’s arrest has put Canada in a tight spot, and it would be interesting to see how the Trudeau government resolves the feuds with two of the world’s largest markets.

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