OTTAWA – Canada is giving China a cold shoulder over its interest in joining an 11-country trade bloc in the Pacific region that is seen as an important gateway to diversifying Canadian trade with d other Asian countries.
A spokesperson for International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Canada recognizes China’s desire to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but has yet to had discussions with the People’s Republic on this matter.
“We are aware of China’s interest,” Ng spokesman Chris Zhou said in an email response to questions.
“All decisions are made by consensus, and any country that joins the CPTPP must adhere to the high-quality rules and ambitious market access commitments of the CPTPP.”
Canada’s language on China’s potential accession to the pact reflects the stance taken by new Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after taking office on Monday.
Trade analysts say Canada should vigorously oppose China’s entry into the trade pact which also includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
They say the safe return to Canada of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor gives the federal government more leeway to verbally oppose China’s entry into the pact. The two Canadian men were arrested in apparent retaliation for the December 2018 arrest of Chinese high-tech leader Meng Wanzhou under a US extradition warrant.
Meng returned to China last month, just hours after the United States withdrew its extradition request and a British Columbia court terminated legal proceedings against her. This paved the way for the immediate release of Kovrig and Spavor who were repatriated to Canada at the exact moment of Meng’s departure.
“Canada has no reason to do China a favor. Their appalling behavior towards Canada over the past two years, including belligerent and belligerent criticism of Canada Çª provides all the justifications for a cold, if not frosty, Canadian response to China’s request to the CPTPP, ”said Lawrence Herman, international trade lawyer and former Canadian diplomat.
Canada may be much smaller than China, but its membership in the larger CPTPP allows it to use its “leverage and influence” to counter “China’s aggressiveness,” Herman said.
Meredith Lilly, Simon Reisman Chair in Trade Policy at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, said Canada need not necessarily endorse or reject China’s candidacy, because the he trade agreement already contains firm rules regarding criteria for new members.
“China is currently not meeting the standards or ambition set by the accession process to join the CPTPP, and China is expected to undertake a series of reforms to be taken seriously in areas such as state-owned enterprises, subsidies national, labor and human rights. and supply, ”Lilly said.
“I think it would be a mistake for CPTPP members to dilute the deal to accommodate any new members.”
Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China, said China failed to honor commitments it made two decades ago when it joined the World Trade Organization.
“Knowing how difficult it remains for foreign companies to operate in China compared to Chinese companies that want to operate here,” Saint-Jacques said, “we need to base our approach much more on reciprocity.”
China applied to join the CPTPP in mid-September, and Taiwan followed suit with its own candidacy a week later. The move angered China, which opposes Taiwan’s involvement in all international arenas because it views the island as a separatist province.
China has stepped up military intimidation against Taiwan in recent days, flying more than 50 fighter jets to the island on Monday.
Saint-Jacques and Lilly said Canada should endorse Taiwan as a member of the CPTPP.
“Of course China is going to go mad, but you know China is not ready,” Saint-Jacques said.
“Once appointed, Canada’s next trade minister should publicly recognize Taiwan’s candidacy, sending an early signal that Canada will give its full attention to Taiwan’s candidacy,” said Lilly.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also affirmed Canada’s solidarity with its two biggest CPTPP partners in recent days.
He spoke on the phone Monday with his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison. “The two leaders discussed the close cooperation between Canada and Australia to strengthen global trade and uphold human rights as well as the rules-based international order,” said an excerpt from the office. by Trudeau published Tuesday.
And on Monday, his office released a statement congratulating Kishida.
“Our extensive trade and investment ties, underpinned by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, contribute greatly to our economic security,” said Trudeau.
“Together, we will advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and take ambitious action in the fight against climate change.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 5, 2021.