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Wu: Canada needs to be wary of China

Canada needs to be wary of China, Taiwan’s foreign minister warns

Dec 03


If there’s any country that can speak with authority about the threats posed by China, it’s Taiwan. And its officials are urging Canada and other countries to pay close attention. They sure know what they’re talking about. Beijing currently has more than a thousand missiles aimed at the island country. But that’s far from the only threat they’re facing. China’s interference in Taiwan runs the gamut, whether it’s pressuring international organizations to not acknowledge Taiwan’s legitimacy or engaging in cyberattacks during the Taiwanese midterms last week.

That’s not going to fly with most Taiwanese, who have been living under a democracy since the 1980s. While they acknowledge a strong familial bond with Chinese culture, they want nothing to do with China’s form of government.

“We will never surrender,” Chiu Chui-cheng, the deputy minister of mainland affairs, told reporters who were part of a formal delegation to Taiwan in mid-November.

The minister painted a picture of a free and defiant country possessing the spirit to stand up and fight for its independent place in the world even when the odds seem stacked against them.

China now has a dominating presence over many aspects of Taiwan’s daily life — trade, tourism, foreign affairs, national security and more. What struck me most during what was my first visit to the island nation was not the differences but the similarities, just how similar Taiwan is to Canada.

Certainly not geographically, of course, as we are one of the largest countries in the world and they are one of the smaller ones. Although our population sizes are similar, theirs at 24 million to our 36 million. Once you separate the superficial differences like language and food, there is a more meaningful connection, one that is rooted in similar values about rule of law, responsibility, education, and democracy. It’s this connection, this similarity, that Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Wu is hoping brings our two countries closer together on the world stage.

“We think it is very important for Canada to understand how China is operating throughout the world,” Wu told me during a meeting with our delegation in the capital Taipei.

“I think the Chinese are also coming into Canada, trying to infiltrate into your domestic-political agenda.

That’s the way they tried to infiltrate into Australia, New Zealand and some other countries in Western Europe, but Taiwan is the country that China has infiltrated more seriously.” He recommended Canada and Taiwan exchange notes on the issue of infiltration so we can fully understand how problematic its become.

“China envisions a vast global network of trade, investment and infrastructure that will reshape financial and geopolitical ties — and bring the rest of the world closer to Beijing,” the story begins.

Don’t think it won’t happen here. A Chinese state-owned enterprise has already been allowed to buy one of our oil and gas companies. It’s not the last time they’ll try something like that. They’ll continue to go after our companies and our natural resources.

While Wu and others in the Taiwanese government don’t openly discourage Canada from engaging in trade with China — they themselves do it considerably — they want to make sure we learn from their challenges and also don’t leave Taiwan out of the equation.

“Taiwan is not a small country when it comes to economy,” said Wu. “We would certainly encourage the Canadian government to pursue a bilateral trade or investment agreement with Taiwan, to advance the bilateral economic relations.”

We already trade billions of dollars worth of products a year, but there’s considerable room for growth. It’s a relationship that makes sense. Canada and Taiwan are, as Wu puts, “like-minded.” We’re on the same team. The good guys have to stick together. And, perhaps more importantly to Canada’s long-term future, neither of us are on China’s team.