One of the oldest lessons of history is that responding to bullying with weakness only encourages more and more bullying. And yet, we seem to keep having to learn that lesson over and over again.
We continue to see China exploiting the weakness of the Canadian government, with ever-escalating aggression. China has tested the Canadian government and has clearly found it to lack strength.
Much of what China does is about saving face, and they will thus look for the weakest nation to concentrate their bullying efforts. After all, the weaker a target is, the less of a response that could cause China to lose face.
So, we see Canada become more and more the focus.
Sadly, this is no surprise. Consider all the things the Canadian government could have done to demonstrate strength:
- Put tariffs on products from China.
- Ban Huawei.
- Impose restrictions on foreign investment from China.
- Reduce Canadian universities’ dependence on foreign students from China.
- Boycott the Olympics.
- Increase our military spending to deepen our commitment to democratic allies.
- Invest in Canada’s Rare Earth Minerals.
- Expel China’s ambassador.
- Explicitly call for a decoupling of Canada’s economy from China.
- Pull our contribution from the China-controlled Asian Infrastructure Bank.
Which of those things has the government done? None of them. Not even one.
The message of course is that China has the Canadian government scared to take action, which tells Beijing their policies of intimidation are working. That will thus invite more intimidation, thus furthering Canada’s loss of strength and respect.
This isn’t just about Justin Trudeau, but he is the most responsible due to the fact that he is the PM, and his past affinity for China. The strategy of "being nice" and hoping China will be nice in response hasn’t worked.
We’ve gotten the same breakdown in relations we would have gotten if we had been stronger, with the added ‘bonus’ of losing our self-respect and failing to take actions to defend Canada’s national interests.
If the government is unable to recognize this reality, China will only grow further and further emboldened, and Canada will be targeted and singled out even more.
China will continue to exploit the weakness of the Canadian government, until that weakness is replaced with strength.
Notably, strength doesn’t mean "belligerence" or rationality, it simply means recognizing our national interests and acting to defend those interests. That’s a pretty low bar and should be the minimum we expect from the federal government.