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On Twitter, respected journalist Terry Glavin—who has probably done more than almost any other Canadian when it comes to speaking the truth about Communist China—shared a link to an article about an opinion piece written by former Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in The Guardian:
“‘The people of Hong Kong want more democracy. They will have to win it for themselves. But Europe cannot continue turning the other cheek for the sake of stability & Chinese cash, while people seek the rights that we insist on for ourselves.’ Ditto Canada.”
In the article, Rasmussen says something that could just as easily have been said to Canada’s “leaders”:
To date, Europe has been erratic in its dealings with China. Several states have been eager to jump into bed with Beijing and auction off our democratic values for the promise of a boost in investment. They have turned a blind eye to Beijing’s human rights abuses at home and bellicosity in its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, other states see China’s continued authoritarian drift but shrink in the face of its global bullying.
Here in Canada, we’ve seen that same erratic behaviour in our own elitist political class. The Trudeau government attacked the Harper Conservatives for being too ‘antagonistic’ towards China, and pushed for a “free trade” deal with the Communist State as Trudeau expressed admiration for China’s “basic dictatorship.”
That approach failed miserably, and our relations with China are worse than ever.
The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer have offered some constructive ideas, such as banning Huawei and pulling Canadian funding from the China-controlled Asian Infrastructure Bank.
However, the Conservatives sometimes seem unsure of whether they want a tougher approach to China, or whether they want more trade with China. They have simultaneously criticized Trudeau’s weakness towards China (a justified critique), while also saying Canada needs to be able to sell more to China.
Of course, you can’t get both of those things at the same time. If we take a tougher, Canadian-values based approach towards China, then we will have to distance ourselves from them economically and seek alternative markets.
By contrast, if we want to sell more products to China, then we will have to abandon our values and give in to China’s demands. After all, if even the US is having trouble getting China’s leaders to drop the Communist State’s mercantilist policies, why would Canada be able to extract concessions—especially when our phone calls aren’t even being answered by China?
So, we have a choice to make: Surrender our values to sell more stuff to China, or begin decoupling our economy from China and stand up for what we believe in.
Decoupling doesn’t mean a total ban on trade with China. It simply means that we refuse to concede on our values, that we consider imposing tariffs on certain Chinese products, and that we put limits on foreign investment from the Communist State. The fact is, while many elites try to act as if our trade with China is “essential” to our economy, Canada exported about CAD $24 billion worth of products to China in 2017. That’s about the size of a yearly federal budget deficit, meaning it’s an important, but not existentially important part of our economy.
For example, even if we lost all our exports to China (highly unlikely even under the most severe decoupling scenario), a combination of federal support for farmers and others, combined with investment in homegrown economic production (such as a badly needed military buildup), would be able to offset most negative impacts.
Additionally, we must consider that there are incredible export opportunities to pursue in places like India and Africa, where large, young populations are expected to see large-scale economic growth for decades to come.
Also, all the talk about the ‘potential’ of economic growth in China often ignores the fact that much of their economic growth may be exaggerated by Communist officials, and that China is going to fall into a Japan-style demographic trap, without having achieved Japan-level GDP per capita numbers.
Canada does not need more trade with China, especially when the cost of that trade is submitting ourselves to a ruthless authoritarian nation that doesn’t share our values or our commitment to freedom.
If we want to stand up for what we believe in as Canadians, we must decouple our economy from China.