The Untold Story of Canada-China Relations 2022

by EditorL

Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping (L) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018. (ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images)

By Limin Zhou, Gary Bai

History of Canada-China Relations 

When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took over China in 1949, Canada and China did not establish a diplomatic relationship for over 20 years. This state of affairs changed during the peak of the Cultural Revolution, a movement that caused the unnatural deaths of at least 1.5 million Chinese people. Then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau took the controversial step to establish diplomatic relations with the totalitarian communist regime in 1970. Canada became one of the first Western countries to establish formal diplomatic relationships with, as well as lend legitimacy to, communist China. This move paved the way for others to follow suit to recognize the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the international stage, and for it to join the United Nations in 1971.

U.S. President Richard Nixon (right) consults Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on Nixon’s trip to communist China while sitting in armchairs at the White House, Washington, D.C on December  12th 1971. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1976, after CCP leader Mao Zedong died, communist China put an end to the Cultural Revolution, calling it “ten years of disaster”. In 1978, then party leader Deng Xiaoping implemented a policy of “reform and opening,” from which mainland China became open to foreign investment. Canada saw this change as an opportunity for doing trade with a massive market. Accordingly, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) started to help communist China to “build international linkages and learn from foreign expertise by supporting people-to-people contacts and education programs in Canada and China.” In 1984, then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang visited Canada and addressed the Canadian Parliament. His speech was in support of Pierre Trudeau’s peace initiative in nuclear disarmament.

Up till 1989, the Sino-Canadian relationship seems to be going smoothly. But in the weeks leading up to June 4th, 1989, Chinese students gathered in Tiananmen Square protesting against corruption in the Central government and calling for greater political freedom. The Communist Party leadership ordered armies to clear the square and end the demonstration. In the dark night of June 3rd, tanks rolled into Beijing and fired at civilians along their way to Tiananmen Square. The armies entered the square in the early morning hours of June 4th, clearing out the student protestors. Official numbers say that no one died at the square but eye-witness accounts estimate that the death toll ranges from several hundreds to several thousands. The televised images of the military suppression of the students and civilians awakened Canadians to the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party.

The relationship between the two countries hit its lowest point during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

After June 4th,1989, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, along with other western leaders openly condemned communist China’s suppression of the democracy movement. It faced tremendous challenges to its legitimacy as the Western world kept its distance from it. Many Canadian firms closed their offices in China. All Chinese nationals in Canada were allowed to remain in Canada permanently. High-level visits were suspended. CIDA projects were frozen. 

In late 1993, the Liberals were back in power and put trade as the cornerstone of  Canada-China relations. Then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was one of the first world leaders to begin engaging with communist China again and bring it out of the state of isolation. Chrétien visited China six times as prime minister, during which he built close ties with Chinese Communist leaders.

Therefore, in 1997, Canada started a “quiet diplomacy” approach regarding human rights. Instead of openly criticizing communist China’s human rights violations, Canada would engage in behind closed doors bilateral dialogues.

In February 2006, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were elected to Parliament. Canada suspended the behind closed doors talks with the CCP after realizing that this approach did little to improve human rights in China.

In December 2009, Harper made an official visit to China as prime minister. One notable accomplishment on this visit was that Canada was finally able to negotiate “approved destination” status for Chinese tourism to Canada.

After Justin Trudeau became Canadian prime minister in 2015, he adopted his father’s legacy and approached China in hopes of building a closer relationship. The young prime minister visited China in September 2016 and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Canada in the same year. Canada and communist China were set to forge a “Canada-China strategic partnership,” along with the possibility of a free trade agreement. 


Tension between Canada and China – 2021

In December 2018, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) lawfully arrested the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou at the Vancouver International Airport. U.S. authorities were seeking her extradition to face fraud charges. Within a few days of the arrest, Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) unlawfully arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing and businessman Michael Spavor in Dandong. In May 2019, Chinese authorities charged them with vague national security crimes. The detention of the two Canadians was widely viewed as retaliation, a part of the CCP’s “hostage diplomacy.”

Huawei Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, arrives at the British Columbia Supreme Court, in Vancouver, on October 26, 2020. (DON MACKINNON/AFP via Getty Images)

Since their arrest, the two Michaels had been placed under solitary confinement in China and denied access to family or lawyers. In March 2021, Michael Spavor was put on a secret trial in Dandong, while Michael Kovrig underwent the same treatment in Beijing. No diplomats or journalists were allowed to attend the trials. In response to the arrest of the Canadians, the Trudeau government initially attempted to stand ground while avoiding escalation in its approach with communist China. However, critics saw this action as inadequate. Later, the Trudeau government denounced the CCP’s “hostage diplomacy” and “arbitrary detentions,” and rallied support from allies to pressure Beijing to release the two Michaels.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. (By Librero2109 licensed under CC-BY-3.0 and CC-BY-SA-4.0)

On Canada’s side, Meng Wanzhou was released on bail in less than two weeks after her arrest in December 2018. She resided in two of her multimillion dollar mansions in Vancouver while fighting her extradition in court. 

In September 2021, a deferred prosecution agreement was reached with the US Attorney’s Office. Meng signed a 4-page statement of facts, admitting to committing fraud in her dealings with HSBC, during which she untruthfully denied that Huawei controls Skycom. Skycom’s work violated US sanctions against Iran, and Meng’s statement proves that the US charges against her and Huawei are valid, even though she pleaded not guilty. After Meng signed the papers, she was flown back to China. Immediately thereafter, the two Michaels were released and flew back to Canada.


What are the current Canada-China relations?

Chinese Communist Party Leader Xi Jinping(L) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018. -( ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images)

Now that the Meng Wanzhou saga is over and the Michaels are back home, the Trudeau government has yet to make a decision on Huawei Communications’ involvement in the country’s 5G infrastructure. Trudeau said on September 28th, 2021, that his government will be “making announcements in the coming weeks.”

Canadian public opinion towards communist China hit rock bottom since the Chinese government arrested and detained the two Canadians in prison. According to a survey by Angus Reid, 81% of Canadians now say they have an unfavorable view of the PRC. In addition, 85% of Canadians think the Chinese government has not been honest or transparent about the pandemic.

According to a Nanos poll published in September, Canadians hope the government will take a strong stance on China. Over 1,000 randomly selected Canadians were polled on six questions on the topic. In response, 63% of the participants want the next federal government to be more forceful in its relations with China. 45% say they are more likely to vote for a party that has a strong stance against China. 80% somewhat support or support excluding Huawei, from building Canada’s 5G network. 62% of Canadians support or somewhat support boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics.

On October 5th, former Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney expressed concerns for the current state of Canada-China relations under the Trudeau government. Mulroney tweeted, “I worry that we’re seeing an effort to tamp down public expressions of concern about China’s Canada agenda (now made brutally clear) preparing the way for a new policy that will look a lot like business as usual.”



Canada-China Trade Then and Now

History of Trade between Canada and China 

In its approach to China, Canada had historically held that the self-evident appeal of its liberal democratic values would seed social change in the communist state. The hope was the CCP would adopt these values as it engaged with free societies, which would come in parallel with opportunities offered by a market of 1.4 billion people. Optimism or naivety, this attitude permeated Canada’s approach to trade with China in the Trudeau, Mulroney, and Chrétien eras.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (L) shakes hand with Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen, September 19, 1996, prior to a meeting at Chretien’s Parliament Hill office in Ottawa. ( DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

According to Roy MacLaren, Chrétien’s international trade minister, Canada’s initiative to diversify its economy away from the United States put Canada on a fast track of engaging with the Chinese Communist Party. Canada put this initiative into action in November 1994, when Chrétien took 400 business and political leaders on a trade mission to China. They came back with $9 billion in deals and a materialized commitment to helping communist China step on the world stage. 

In 1996 and 1998, Jean Chrétien led Canada’s political elites and senior business executives to two separate large-scale trade missions to China. 

In 2001, Chrétien visited China again and gave speeches across the country. He told a group of business leaders in Shanghai about his vision of China joining the World Trade Organization, a move that Canada had supported and saw success in late-2001. 

Chrétien said, “With China’s accession to the WTO, tariffs will drop, and access by Chinese consumers and business to our products and services will increase.” He asserted that “WTO accession is part of China’s broad agenda of developing the rule of law, to ensure fair and equal treatment before the courts for both people and companies.” The former prime minister embarked on another trade mission – the largest in Canadian history – to China in 2003. He was accompanied by over 600 businesses and provincial and territorial leaders. 

In 2006, the newly elected Stephen Harper took a different approach to trade than that of his predecessors. He was critical of China’s human rights record and said not to compromise Canadian values for the “almighty dollar.” The Harper government ramped up engagement with China after the 2008 global recession. 

Canada has continued to have a significant trade imbalance with China each year. In 2020, Canada’s trade deficit with China was over $51.3 billion dollars.


Does Canada and China have a free trade agreement?

Canada and China do not share a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Exploratory discussions on a prospective FTA between Canada and China began in fall 2016. Face-to-face working meetings on the matter took place in Beijing in February 2017. A second set of meetings were held in Ottawa in April 2017, and a third from July 31 to August 4, 2017. 

Trudeau visited China for a second time in December 2017, expecting to formally launch trade talks with the communist state. Trudeau’s trip was followed by a war of words between the communist party’s state-owned press, the Global Times, and Canadian press The Globe and Mail. Trudeau left the Chinese capital without an agreement. 

Former Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne expressed disinterest in free trade talks with China in September 2020, more than 1.5 years after the arbitrary detention of the two Canadians in China. 


What are the trade and investment agreements between China and Canada? 

The only trade agreement in force between Canada and China is the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection agreement (FIPA). FIPA is a bilateral trade agreement designed to protect and promote foreign investment by ensuring foreign investors are treated like domestic investors.


What is the Canada-China FIPA?

In February 2012, Harper visited China and signed a number of economic agreements, including the Canada-China Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments Agreement (CCPRPIA), also known as the Canada-China FIPA. The bilateral agreement would last 31 years, even if during this time Canada finds it unsatisfactory.

The Canada-China FIPA offers protections for direct investment between the two countries. It imposes bilateral obligations including non-discrimination, fair treatment, and compensation for expropriation. Non-discrimination obligations ensure Canadian investors are treated like domestic investors and investors from other countries. Fair treatment obligations ensure that foreign investments are treated in accordance with international law. Expropriation compensation obligations ensure that expropriation measures are for a public purpose and follow due process of law.

Critics of the Canada-China FIPA say it would allow Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) to erode Canadian sovereignty. For example, Chinese companies can seek billions in compensation if their operations in Canada are hampered by local environmental laws. 

The Canada-China FIPA came into force on October 1st, 2014. While Chinese SOEs would enjoy a level playing field in the Canadian market, Canadian companies would still be subject to arbitrary laws and regulations in the Chinese market.


What does Canada export to China and import from China?


Pigs are seen at the Meloporc farm in Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Quebec, Canada, on June 26, 2019. Canada said that it is investigating the origin of a tainted pork shipment and bogus documents that prompted China to ban Canadian meat and further strain tense relations. (SEBASTIEN ST-JEAN/AFP via Getty Images)

As of Q1 2021, the top five Canadian export categories to China by dollar value are as follows: coal ($519 million), iron ore ($516 million), chemical wood pulp ($441 million), canola seeds ($405 million), and canola oil ($390 million). 

The top five Canadian imports from China by dollar value include computers ($1.5 billion), cell phones ($1.07 billion), switching machines ($565 million), toys ($269 million), and made-up articles of textile materials, including facemasks ($242 million).

What are the trade relations between Canada and China?

Despite the turbulent relationship between Canada and communist China, trade between the two countries has been growing since China joined the WTO in 2001. According to the Government of Canada Global Affairs website, bilateral trade in goods and services between Canada and China has been growing at around 12 to 13 percent per year. 

After Canada’s lawful arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CCP has seeked retaliation in trade. It blocked imports of Canadian agricultural goods and raw material. In March 2019, for example, the CCP blocked canola shipments from Canadian exporters. However, Canadian canola still found their way to China, as China seeked to import canola oil from Europe and the United Arab Emirates, which in turn imported from Canada. As a result, canola prices rallied in Canada and total canola exports increased 9% from 2019 to 2020. In the first seven month of the COVID pandemic, Canadian canola exports to China rebounded to a 10 percent increase compared to the same period in the previous year as China lifted the ban on Canadian canola. Analysts say struggling stock prices of Chinese oilseed processors drove China’s decision to lift the ban.

Canada and China hold a large trade imbalance, with Canada importing more from China than China importing from Canada. In 2020, Canada’s trade deficit with China reached over $51.3 billion CAD.


How many Free Trade Agreements does Canada have?

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign the trade agreement during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 30, 2018. (Wiki Commons)

Canada right now has 14 Free Trade Agreements. The most well-known one is the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which came into effect on July 1, 2020. 

Under CUSMA, 75% of automobile components used in participating countries must be produced within the  CUSMA trade area. Then Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland represented Canada in the negotiation. In the deal, Canada agreed to open its dairy market to US dairy farmers. 

If any one of the three countries – Canada, US, and Mexico – contend a decision by one of the member countries to sign an FTA with a “non-market country,” for example China, it is allowed to withdraw from CUSMA. CUSMA requires member countries to notify other member countries three months prior to starting negotiation of a free trade pact with a “non-market country.”

The second biggest FTA Canada holds is the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. The Harper government started the negotiation of CETA and signed a CETA “agreement in principle” in 2014. Chrystia Freeland completed CETA after Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister. CETA came into force in 2017. 


Why does Canada trade with China?

For some Canadians, trade with China is viewed as reducing Canada’s reliance on the US.

As to what’s behind Canada’s apparent eagerness to engage with China in trade, China expert and author Jonathan Manthorpe suggests that the Chinese government has developed a network of agents in Canada, as a part of its United Front operations. These include Canada’s political and business elites, who receive various forms of benefit from the Chinese government and act according to its needs.

Manthorpe argues that this form of engagement would compromise Canada’s interests and values. He points to a report titled “Rethinking Security: China and the Age of Strategic Rivalry” issued by Canada’s intelligence agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), on China’s infiltration tactics. Specifically, in the area of trade, the report warns that the CCP “will use its commercial position to gain access to businesses, technologies, and infrastructure that can be exploited for intelligence objectives, or to potentially compromise a partner’s security.”


Travelling between China and Canada

Is it safe to travel to China right now? 

In January 2019, soon after the two Michaels were arbitrarily arrested in China, Global Affairs Canada updated its travel advisory warning Canadians residing or traveling in China to be on guard due to the risk of “arbitrary enforcement” of laws. The U.S. also updated its travel advisory warning American citizens to “reconsider travel to China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” 

Global Affairs Canada’s travel warning however did nothing to deter Canadians who travel regularly to China for business. A MacLean’s report questioned whether this was a naïve response on the side of Canadians in the face of communist China’s arbitrary arrest and detention of Canadian citizens.

David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China was quoted as saying that he wouldn’t go unless there is a really good reason. “The safety of your employees is ultimately more important than any relationship with a Chinese university,” he said.

Indeed, not many details were provided in the Canadian travel advisory, but the US travel advisory has more specifics. It pointed out that the communist regime “arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law.”

Like the Americans, Canadians who are traveling or living in communist China “may be detained without access to consular services or information about their alleged crime” or “may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law.”

It warns that foreigners such as business people, former foreign government personnel and foreign journalists “have been arbitrarily interrogated and detained by Chinese communist officials for alleged violations of Chinese national security laws.” The CCP “has also threatened, interrogated, detained, and expelled U.S. citizens living and working in the PRC.” Chinese security personnel may detain and/or deport foreign citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese communist regime.

In addition, the CCP does not recognize dual nationality. Canadian-Chinese citizens and Canadian citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment.  Chinese authorities may prevent the Canadian embassy from providing consular services.


Is it safe to return to Canada from China?

Chinese police stand guard in the new Beijing Daxing Airport on December 11, 2019.  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Canadians might run into trouble returning to Canada from China. In most cases, Canadians would only get to know they are banned from leaving China when they set out to leave the country, and one cannot find out how long the ban might be and cannot contest the ban in court.

According to a U.S. travel advisory, the communist regime “uses arbitrary detention and exit bans to compel individuals” “to participate in PRC government investigations,” “to pressure family members who currently live outside of China to return to the PRC”, or “to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.”

What is the story of Huawei in Canada? 

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government promised to announce its decision on whether to ban Huawei from building Canada’s 5G network on the grounds that the Chinese company represents a significant national security risk. Currently Canada is the only country within the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that has not done so.

In recent years, intelligence experts have been sounding alarms about the close relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government. Huawei was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, father of Meng Wanzhou. Ren Zhengfei is a member of the Chinese Communist Party and a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army. Huawei is overseen by a Chinese Communist Party committee. Under Chinese law, companies must “support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work” as requested by the Chinese Communist Party, and so equipment produced by Huawei could be compromised in security.

Huawei Technology located in Markham, Ontario in Canada.

U.S. prosecutors are now accusing Huawei of stealing other companies’ intellectual property for decades. Security experts have noted the case of Canadian telecommunication company Nortel, which was one of the victim’s of Huawei’s intellectual property theft. Nortel died in part because its intellectual property was stolen from hackers in communist China. Huawei developed equipment very similar to those of Nortel down to the instruction manuals, before riding past Nortel. Nortel went bankrupt soon after. 

According to a National Post report, former Nortel security personnel reported that a customer tied to Huawei returned a piece of equipment that had been pulled apart and “reverse engineered” to uncover its secrets. Furthermore, it was reported that hackers based in China stole at least hundreds of sensitive internal documents from Nortel over the course of more than 10 years, and that listening devices were found in Nortel’s Ottawa complex. 

Brian Shields, a former security advisor at Nortel, previously told NTD Television that hacking from Chinese state actors played a major role in Nortel’s downfall. As one of the first people to investigate the cyber attacks into Nortel, Shields first learned about the hacking in 2004 and observed it all the way until 2009, when he quit Nortel. He found that the hackers went into the accounts of Nortel executives, including that of the CEO, and at one point downloaded more than 450 documents. According to Shields, the hacker controlled the accounts of at least seven Nortel executives. 

A key event took place on Saturday, April 24, 2004. In a mere seven hours, a Shanghai address downloaded 779 documents from the account of Nortel CEO Frank Dunn, just four days before Dunn was fired. The timing was impeccable. Global News reported that this suggests the Shanghai hackers knew the plans of Nortel’s Board of Directors and acted accordingly. Once the hackers were discovered, they altered their techniques and began using accounts of employees working in Nortel branches in China. To Shields, the sophistication of the hacking technique suggests that the communist state was behind the operations.

Shield told the Epoch Times that “it was very organized what they were doing over there, it was very advanced…A 16-year-old hacker isn’t going to take an electronic document on some diode and its transmissions.” Shields also stated the main benefactor of the data would have been Huawei.

Shields said, “Where was the manufacturer that was reaping the benefits of this? Was it the companies in Russia or France that were suddenly doing real good? No… It was economic espionage, and we lost an industry here in Canada. That’s what happened.”  

According to Global News, Shields concluded in his “data theft” investigation report that “to date, we have 1,488 documents which were downloaded. China is the source of all extractions we are aware of.” As a result, China’s government had gained complete control of Nortel’s internal system.

In response to these threats, Nortel did little other than changing its accounts’ passwords, reportedly not believing the threat was real. As a result, the hacking continued until the company went bankrupt in 2009. Huawei denies that it played a part in the hacking or other alleged espionage, or that it benefited from such industrial spying. 


Will Canada participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics?

Chinese-Canadian groups renewed their call for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics as the top international sporting event approaches.

“The reason for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics is clear: It’s because the Chinese Communist Party continues to do evil,” Ningyu Huang, co-ordinator of the group China Human Rights Watch, told NTD Television. Huang believes the Chinese Communist Party wants to use every opportunity, including the Olympics, to burnish its image on the world stage and to spread its ideology.

China Human Rights Watch and other groups call for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics at the Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver on the evening of Oct. 27, 2021. (Vivian Yu/NTD Television)

Former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said the Chinese communist regime “should not be rewarded another Olympics after it breached all the international commitments it made last time for the 2008 Olympics.” Cotler said in an interview, “We remember when China held the 2008 Olympics and they made certain undertakings that they would abide by the rule of law. The result was that they arrested Falun Gong practitioners and that they increased the number of political prisoners. They breached all the international commitments in the 2008 Olympics.” 

“There’s no reason to believe that they won’t behave differently now. And let us remember that in 1936, when the Olympics were held in Germany before the holocaust began, they were already then referred to as the Olympics of shame.”

Cotler said the 2022 Games are scheduled to be held in China at a time when a plethora of rights infractions are being perpetrated by the regime. “Mass atrocities targeting the Uighers,  the suppression in Hong Kong, let alone the persecution and prosecution of the Falun Gong, the menacing of Taiwan, the repression of Tibetans, and imprisoning more journalists than in any other country in the world.” He said, “We shouldn’t be rewarding them with the Olympics because it indulges a culture of impunity.”

He suggested moving the Games to another country, noting that Canada “would be an ideal location” given that the upcoming event is a Winter Olympics.

On Feb. 18th, a resolution was adopted in Canadian Parliament with a provision to call on the International Olympic Committee “to move the 2022 Olympic Games if the Chinese government continues” its genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang. 

The resolution noted that tyrannical governments “use the Olympics as an opportunity to glorify their own regime and to show their own people that they are strong and powerful.”

How competitive are Canadian and Chinese athletes?

Canada and China aren’t traditionally competitors in the sports arena, mainly because Canadian athletes are usually in the spotlight for winter sports whereas Chinese athletes are better at sports in the summer games. Nonetheless, the two countries have occasionally met head-to-head in team sports such as basketball and soccer, and, owing to the rising popularity of badminton in Canada, a couple of Canadians contenders have begun to catch the attention of Chinese athletes.

Canada and China are about equal-matched in only a few sporting events, with women’s soccer being one of them. The most well-known encounter – a rather crowded one – between the two countries is no other than the opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, when Canada won 1-0 over China in the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton packed with over 53,000 people. Canada scored a late-game penalty kick by team captain Christine Sinclair, giving the host country a lead in the group stage. 

A second and surprising event where Canada has drawn some attention on the world stage – and certainly sport strategists in China – is badminton. While China is known to dominate the court in virtually all categories of the sport, a couple of Canadian athletes have proven themselves a credible threat in recent years. In women’s singles, Ontario’s Michelle Li has defeated virtually all top-class female players across the world in tournaments – including China’s Chen Yufei at the BWF World Finals in 2018. In men’s singles, Brian Yang, also from Ontario, became a black horse contender that surprised many in recent years. As a 19 year-old, Yang was two-points away from sending then world’s number-four Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen home in the group stage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In September 2021, Yang defeated Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, ranked world’s number seven at the time. Given his recent performance, it is safe to say that the teenager will be on the radar of his Chinese competitors in the coming years.


How should we handle Canada-China relations in 2022?

The Chinese Communist Party consistently denied the arbitrary and retaliatory nature of the  arrest of the two Michaels. However, the detention and prosecution of the two Canadians all of a sudden came to an end and the Michaels were allowed to leave communist China at the same moment Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case was dropped by the court after reaching a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government. The two Michaels were indeed taken hostage by the CCP as bargaining chips in exchange for Meng’s release.

Yet, this was not a hostage swap as some media reports suggested. Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou was legal and just. It was not a kidnapping, because Meng indeed broke the law by frauding a US bank, and admitted to doing so when she reached the deferred prosecution agreement with the US. Yet the CCP lacked ground in detaining the two Canadian citizens – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, while the charges against them were trumped up and their trials were for-show.

What does this tell Canadians? 

Canadians need a public forum to reevaluate the Canada-China relationship going forward. This need became crystal clear after the two-Michaels incident, when the CCP demonstrated its disregard for the principle of rule of law and Canadian sovereignty in face of its own interests. The Canadian government and Canadians need to wake up to the fact that communist China is afterall a totalitarian regime and the CCP does not follow the rules set out for international relations, diplomacy, or rule-based trade. It does not share Western democratic values. Canada needs to make adjustments in its approach to China to ensure that its own democratic values are not eroded and its people are protected from the claws of the communist regime.

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