Canada-China relations currently appear to be at a low point after Chinese prosecutors charged two Canadians, detained in the Asian country since December 2018, with spying. China’s move has significantly escalated tensions between the two countries.
Around the same time, Canada lost its second consecutive bid for a seat at the UN Security Council on Wednesday. While speaking to reporters over the development on Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said that he would be open to a review of the foreign policy of the country. In view of the recent turn of events, foreign policy experts have asserted that it is one of the most disastrous weeks for Canadian foreign policy in the world order during recent years.
On Wednesday, Canada failed to secure two-third support at the UNSC and lost to Norway and Ireland, even after four years of campaigning. Reportedly, Canada received even fewer votes than its 2010 failed bid under Stephen Harper’s government. Foreign policy experts termed the UNSC seat loss a personal embarrassment for Trudeau because winning the seat was a crucial foreign policy priority for the Canadian Prime Minister. It was in 2016 when Prime Minister Trudeau announced Canada’s bid for a seat on the UNSC. Over recent years, Canada has been facing criticism for not living up to its support to the United Nations, specifically towards peacekeeping. Notedly, the deployment of Canadian forces to UN missions is currently at a 60-year low.
In another attack on Canadian diplomacy, two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – who have been detained in China for the past 18 months, were charged with espionage by Chinese prosecutors on June 19. While Michael Spavor has been charged on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and illegally providing state secrets, Michael Kovrig has been charged on suspicion of spying for state secrets and intelligence, as per a report by POLITICO.
While speaking to reporters on Friday, PM Trudeau responded to China’s actions and said that he was “very disappointed” that China filed spying charges against the two Michaels. He went on to state that everything is being done to get the two Michaels home. However, he did not respond to journalists’ questions on why he has not used a tougher stand against China. Former diplomats have also professed that China’s actions against the two Canadians should prove as a wake-up call for the Trudeau government against its soft diplomacy towards the Asian country.
Taking note of the recent diplomatic oversight, it is paramount for Canada to rethink and reinvest in its foreign policy infrastructure. Furthermore, there is a need for the Canadian government to expand its efforts in strengthening multilateralism and global governance.