Canada’s Justin Trudeau says China ‘plays’ Western nations as nation joins Olympic boycott
The leader of a Western nation who has tried to build bridges with Beijing has given up on playing nicely and said it is no longer China he knows.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Chinese government of “playing smart” on Western nations and urged democratic countries to respond to the threat with a united front.
Trudeau said the ruling Communist Party in China was using its wealth to pit nations against each other and put political realities behind economic obligations, the New York Post reports.
âWe have been competing and China has sometimes played us very cleverly against each other competitively in the open market,â he told Canada’s Global News in an interview published on Saturday.
“We have to do a better job of working together and staying strong so that China can’t, you know, play angles and divide us against each other,” said the Canadian leader.
He said Western countries should “show a united front” against China’s “increasingly coercive diplomacy”.
Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have deteriorated since Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada in 2018 under a US extradition warrant.
In retaliation, China has detained two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – on national security charges.
The two men were released in September after Ms. Meng, who was wanted for fraud, reached a deal with US prosecutors.
Mr. Trudeau said as prime minister he wanted to do the right thing, but also recognized the “human cost”.
âThese two Canadians were stuck in terrible conditions, in a totally arbitrary fashion, and there was at least some theoretical way for me to take shortcuts and backstage deals to get them home. But I knew and felt you had to do the right thing and we stayed focused on the right thing, âhe said.
Trudeau, a long-time advocate for better Canada-China relations, sees the country in a different light because of the experience.
President Xi Jinping’s China is “no longer the China we thought of 10 years ago or even five years ago in some ways,” he said.
“We have to be mindful of that possibility, but also that mindset that they have to move forward, which means that there are things that we will continue to challenge China on – rights. human rights, democracy in Hong Kong, support for journalists, you know, non-interference in the activities of independent countries in Asia, âhe said.
On other issues, such as the fight against climate change and trade, Canada will have to work with China, the world’s second-largest economy.
âThere are ways we’re going to have to compete with China, whether it’s on trade, on trade deals, on goods and services – thinking about that,â Trudeau said.
âAnd then there are ways that we’re going to want to work with China and think about climate change, for example, where they’re going to be a big player if we’re going to be able to decarbonize our global economy. â¦ So all these different nuances will continue, âhe said.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and has been reprinted with permission