Campbell Strategies weighs in on China

If a Canadian court finds the extradition request in accord with our extradition treaty with the U.S., then Meng Wanzhou should be extradited. This process will involve a determining if she has been validly charged with crimes covered by that treaty.

In the meantime, and again pursuant to Canadian due process, she has been released on bail and serves house arrest. So, while China fumes, Meng lolls about her expansive, mountain-view home in Vancouver.

Our Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, however, are incarcerated for an indefinite period in cells lit 24 hours, subjected to interrogation and with limited access to counsel. Held under dubious charges, they are being used as bargaining chips. We can lament how Canada got caught between the U.S. and China, but as a nation, our next steps are clear. Due process must play out and our laws applied. Here, we follow the rule-of-law.

Ultimately, the Canadian government has wide discretion under the Extradition Act to refuse to surrender someone where it would be unjust or oppressive to do so. However, the mounting evidence of misdeeds detailed in last week’s filings in the U.S., make that an unlikely finding. To roll over and yield to China’s blunt threats and crude actions could hold great consequences for Canada.

By detaining Canadians and holding them hostage, China has made this about more than Meng. China is using Canada to teach a lesson to the world. Canada must use this same moment to teach the world a lesson about Canada. Our challenge is to not take the bait, but fight this on our own terms.

With the world watching, this is no longer just about our relationship with China, but a defining moment in our history. By pushing back and holding steadfast to the rule-of-law, Canada will recover from this debacle. China must come to understand, urgently, that it can’t have it both ways: using Canada as a safe-haven for its children and a safety deposit box for its money, while treating us like a vassal state.

Canada has two points of leverage to increase the cost to China of maintaining its current posture. The first results from the extraordinary level of Chinese investment in Canada. The second the result of our control of the Arctic and the Arctic trade routes.

We suggest that the time has come to expose the full extent of private Chinese investment in Canada as well as all investment by state controlled, not just state-owned entities. Let’s look behind the numbered companies and ask about the origins of that money.

Let’s ask: Why do so many Chinese citizens, including no doubt Communist Party members, have so little confidence in China that they want a Canadian passport or residency here, or to own a piece of Canadian real estate? No doubt, we’ll find some surprises in the beneficial ownership of a few Vancouver condos.

It is galling to see Meng, a proud citizen of China, serve out her house arrest in her own multimillion-dollar home while Kovrig and Spavor pace in a Chinese jail cell.

China has serious plans for the Arctic. With breathtaking hubris, it describes itself as a “near-Arctic state.” While currently only an “observer” on the Arctic Council, it is pushing for full membership – allowing it to join other nations in managing the polar north. China is actively pursuing a “Polar Silk Road” as part of its expanding transportation and trade network around the world.

This is one area where Canada has considerable leverage, from stalling any Chinese ship travelling through the Northwest Passage to pressuring members of the Arctic Council to go slow on full membership for China.

Canada should be adamant: no Arctic pretender state will have a say in the vital north or travel our northern waters until it is safe for Canadians to work and travel in China. China will have no voice in the Arctic Council until Canada says so.

This is an opportunity for Canada to show other nations how to defend against Chinese hegemony. It cannot do so by ignoring the rule-of-law. Our welcome mat may be out, but Canada is not anyone’s doormat.

For more information on this subject, please contact:

Barry Campbell:
T: 416-368-7353 x 101

Ted Griffith:
T: 416-368-7353 x 105

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