Conflict between China and Canada likely to escalate

Analysts and Chinese media suggest the row over Huawei's CFO is just getting started


(AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Media analysts as well as Chinese propagandists are forecasting stormy relations between Canada and China as the saga of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO and “Princess of Huawei,” ratchets up tensions between China and Canada.

On Dec. 16, the Chinese state backed tabloid Global Times published an editorial saying that China was preparing for “an escalation of the row with Canada,” because the country had “crossed a line” by assisting the U.S. to detain Meng.

Global Times evidences deep concern for the fate of Huawei by saying the incident evidences the U.S. attempts at “collective encirclement and suppression of Chinese high-tech enterprise Huawei,” and calls the development a “wicked precedent.”

The editorial also hints that Australia and New Zealand may also find themselves the target of China’s retaliatory anger.

“China should focus on the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, especially Australia, New Zealand and Canada, who actively follow the US against China…China is the largest trading partner of both Australia and New Zealand and the second largest of Canada, thus (China) has enough means to counter them.”

The same day (Dec. 16) CNN published a piece by Michael Bociurkiw, an analyst at the South China Morning Post, in which Bociurkiw warns that Canada can expect to pay a “hefty price” for standing by the U.S., and that the “potential for Beijing to harm the Canadian economy is huge.”

Bociurkiw suggests that Canadians should ask why China is angry with their government rather than the U.S. His piece suggests that Canada is at risk of facing serious collateral damage by standing with its ally i the U.S.'s conflict with China.

He implies that Chinese tariffs or embargoes on Canadian goods are possible forms of retaliation which Beijing may use to threaten or harm Canada.

A trade mission from British Columbia to China has already been canceled because of the diplomatic tensions. Following the arrest of Meng, China has arrested two Canadians in response, Michael Spavor, a business consultant, and Michael Kovrig, an analyst on China affairs.

The Canadian government is now considering travel advisories for Canadians traveling to China, according to some reports.

China could also threaten Canada by suspending or scrapping talks over a Free Trade Agreement, says Bociurkiw. He suggests that Canada would be smart to diversify its trade and investment with other partners in Southeast Asia, and also to reconsider the security risks posed by Chinese investments, especially in Canada’s telecom industry.

On Thursday, Dec. 13 last week, a Canadian delegation met with Taiwanese officials in Taipei for trade talks. The next day, Lu Kang (陸慷), spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that if Canada attempts to “play the Taiwan card” then it will be a serious miscalculation, and that they would only end up hurting themselves.

With tensions already high between China and Canada, the extradition of Meng to the U.S. could cause an even deeper rift in diplomatic, and possibly economic, relations. Canada is surely evaluating how best to proceed in dealing with China, as it may soon find itself unwillingly drawn into the greater U.S.-China trade conflict.