Canada launched its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy over the weekend that outlines $2.3 billion in spending to boost military and cyber security in the region. It strove to maintain a diplomatic strategy designed to balance China’s destabilizing actions in the region while maintaining a joint response with Beijing on climate change and trade issues.
The plan detailed in a 26-page document says Canada will tighten their foreign investment rules to protect intellectual property and prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from acquiring strategic minerals.
Canada is seeking to grow its trade with the Indo-Pacific region. This area of 40 countries accounts for $50 trillion worth of economic activity, but there is a focus on China. Canada mentions China more than 50 times at a time when relations are frosty between the two nations.
At the Vancouver news conference, four cabinet ministers took turns detailing the new national security plan. The strategy was crucial for protecting Canada’s climate and economic goals as well as its citizens.
“We plan to be firm and yet diplomatic in our approach,” said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly. “That’s why we have a transparent plan that will allow us to engage with China.”
Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, wants to expand trade and economic relationships. He said that he wanted to diversify ties since Canada has an overwhelming reliance on the United States. According to data from September, 7% of trade is with China while 68% is with the US.
Recently, Canada has been putting effort into its relationship with Asian allies. There are signs that the US is becoming increasingly opposed to free trade.
Canada faces a dilemma in forging ties with China, which offer great opportunities for Canadian exporters, even as Beijing looks to shape the international order into more of a permissive environment for interests and values that increasingly depart from those of Canada.
Meanwhile, the document said that cooperation with the world’s second-biggest economy was necessary to address some of the “world’s existential pressures.” These include climate change, global health, and nuclear proliferation.
“China is an increasingly disruptive global power,” the strategy said. “Our approach is shaped by a realistic and clear-eyed assessment of today’s China.” In areas of serious disagreement, we will challenge China.
The relationship between Canada and China has deteriorated rapidly since an executive from Huawei Technologies was detained in Canada and two Canadians were arrested after being accused of espionage. All three were released last year, but tensions have not improved.
Canada ordered three Chinese companies to divest their investments earlier this month, alleging critical minerals will compromise national security.
Ottawa will review and update legislation enabling it to react “decisively when investments from state-owned enterprises and other foreign entities threaten our national security, including critical minerals supply chains.”
Because the region is large and diverse, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty said in a statement that Canada’s priorities will need to be nuanced between and within countries.
The document claimed that Canada would boost its naval presence in the region and “increase military engagement and intelligence capacity as a means of mitigating threats to regional security.”
One of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, Canada remains committed to significant measures in response to North Korean missile launches.
According to this document, Ottawa was engaging in the region with partners such as the United States and the European Union.
Canada said it needs to keep talking to nations it disagrees with but didn’t explicitly name them.