Canada faces immediate, long-term decisions on China ties after Two Michaels’ return

Foreign Minister Marc Garneau says Canada would compete with China on issues like trade and cooperate on climate change, while challenging it on its treatment of Uighurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong as Ottawa has done in the past

While the return of two detained Canadians has ended a contentious dispute between Canada and China, experts say Ottawa now faces some hard choices when it comes to Beijing.
University of British Columbia professor Paul Evans, one of Canada’s top experts on China and Asia, expects a number of decisions to be rolled out in the coming weeks and months now that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been returned home.

Among the decisions Evans is expecting is whether to let Chinese telecom giant Huawei participate in Canada’s 5G wireless network, and the extent to which Canadian universities will be allowed to work with Chinese entities.

University of Ottawa professor Roland Paris, who served as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first foreign policy adviser, says the re-elected Li

The Liberals promised in their election platform that they would develop a comprehensive strategy for the Asia-Pacific region, which Paris says is long overdue and will be needed to navigate what will be a challenging relationship.

Spavor and Kovrig were released after being held in Chinese prison for more than 1,000 days in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Meng was released from Canadian custody Friday after reaching a plea deal with authorities from the U.S., where she had faced fraud charges.

Canada’s “eyes are wide open” when it comes to normalizing its relationship with China, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said on Sunday, two days after the release of a Huawei executive following almost three years of house arrest in Vancouver.

beral government should also move quickly to develop a long-term strategy for dealing with China.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, flew back to China on Friday after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors to end a bank fraud case against her. That resulted in the scrapping of her extradition battle in a Canadian court.

Soon after Meng flew to China, Kovrig and Spavor were released by Beijing.

Garneau told CBC News the government is now following a fourfold approach to China: “coexist,” “compete,” “cooperate” and “challenge.”

He said Canada would compete with China on issues like trade and cooperate on climate change, while challenging it on its treatment of Uighurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong as Ottawa has done in the past.

“Let me say, our eyes are wide open. We have been saying that for some time. There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained,” Garneau said.

Trudeau, who won a third term last Monday after a tight election race, had vowed to improve ties with China after becoming prime minister in 2015, building on his father’s success in establishing diplomatic ties with China in 1970.

But even before Meng’s arrest, Canada’s repeated questioning of China’s human rights positions had irked Beijing, and the two countries have failed to come closer.

China has always denied any link between Meng’s extradition case and the detention of the two Canadians, but Garneau said that “the immediate return of the two Michaels linked” it to Meng’s case in a “very direct manner.”

Garneau said he had heard about the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) several weeks ago, which opened the door to the return of the two men.

Canadian Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman denied Washington had made the release of Kovrig and Spavor a condition for the resolution of the charges against Meng.

“Absolutely not. The DPA and the resolution of the charges against Ms. Meng was a completely independent process, and it was proceeding as it did,” Hillman told Canadian broadcaster CTV.

Garneau also said he did not think the timing of the men’s return had anything to do with that of the federal election.

“I think it just worked out that way.”