June 14, 2024
Trudeau muddles his message in Huawei spat with China
Justin Trudeau is accused of trying to have it both ways on China.
Justin Trudeau is accused of trying to have it both ways on China.

When Justin Trudeau vowed that Canada would “not escalate but . . . not back down” in its diplomatic spat with China last week, Beijing dismissed the comments as “loudness”.

Yet to many onlookers the prime minister’s response to China’s nine-month campaign of insults and snubs, the detention of two Canadians and an onslaught of trade blockades was anything but loud or forceful. While Mr Trudeau gingerly noted China has become “increasingly assertive” on the world stage, he also ­paid homage to the “deep people-to-people ties” between Canada and China and touted the “real economic opportunities” China offers Canadians.

It was a muddled message that reflects a government “having difficulty accepting that its previous assumptions about China were wrong”, said Charles Burton, a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Those assumptions, he said, centred on the belief that if Canada tolerated China’s behaviour it would generate goodwill in Beijing and lead to Canadian prosperity through trade and investment.

“That’s all turned to dust now,” said Mr Burton.


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