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Canada readies new Asia-Pacific strategy to challenge China

Canada will soon announce a
new Asia-Pacific strategy to challenge China on human rights
issues while cooperating with the world’s second-biggest economy
on the climate crisis and other shared goals, Foreign Minister
Melanie Joly has said.

Canada sees relations with Asia-Pacific countries as vital
to national security as well as its economic and environmental
goals, Joly said in Toronto on Wednesday ahead of an official trip to the

China was an “increasingly disruptive, global power,” Joly
said, and would need to be a major part of the strategy expected to be announced within the next month.

“It seeks to shape the global environment into one that is more permissive for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours,” she said.

In a broad outline of Ottawa’s new policy roadmap, which is due to be released in the coming weeks, Joly said it will be critical to expand relations with India and other countries in the region, as well as Taiwan.

Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have been
running high since the detention of Huawei Technologies
executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest
of two Canadians on spying charges.

While the standoff ended when all three people were released
last year, relations have remained sour. Citing national
security concerns, Ottawa banned the use of 5G gear from Huawei
in May and last week ordered three Chinese companies to divest
from critical minerals in Canada.

This week Beijing pushed back against Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau’s accusations that China was attempting to interfere
with Canadian elections and said Ottawa should stop making
remarks that hurt relations.

READ MORE: Canada lawmakers announce Taiwan trip after strong China reaction to Pelosi

Bolstering network of China experts

“We will challenge China when we ought to. We will cooperate with China when we must,” Joly said.

“The Indo-Pacific region is the epicentre of a generational global shift,” she said, predicting that it will account for half of the global economy by 2040.

Joly also noted an increasing Canadian military presence in the Pacific and pledged more staff at its embassies tasked with analysing impacts of China policies and actions.

“It’s sheer size and influence makes cooperation necessary
to address the world’s existential pressures such as global
health, nuclear non-proliferation, climate change and
biodiversity loss,” Joly said.

She said Ottawa was investing to better understand how
“China thinks, operates and plans.” To do that, Canada will
spend C$50 million ($37 million) to bolster its network of China
experts in embassies, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

Joly warned that there were risks in doing business with
China, telling Canadians, “you need to be clear-eyed. The
decisions you take as business people are your own.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the region holds
“great potential for Canada,” and that businesses planned to
work with the government to build on their economic activities in
the Asia-Pacific.

READ MORE: China slams Canada, Australia for ‘provocative’ flights near its border

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