Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech before the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations in Montreal on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Canada won’t back down in its defence of Canadians against an increasingly assertive China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday following another round of sharp criticism from the Asian country.

The federal government is closely monitoring the protest movement in Hong Kong, where there are 300,000 Canadian citizens, Trudeau said in a speech in Montreal. The prime minister added his government has been “working tirelessly” to secure the release of two Canadians detained in China.

“As a global community, we must recognize that China is a growing power and increasingly assertive towards its place in the international order,” Trudeau told the audience at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations event.

“But make no mistake: We will always defend Canadians and Canadian interests.”

The prime minister said Canada will continue to engage in dialogue with the Asian power, but it won’t stop standing up for fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly.

“We do not escalate, but we do not back down,” he said.

Trudeau’s speech came a day after Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters Canada needs to “stop its wrongdoing before it’s too late.”

Canada’s relationship with China is fraught with tension over Canada’s arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou, and China’s subsequent detention of two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, allegedly for national security reasons.

Trudeau said the government is working to obtain the release of Spavor and Kovrig, who were detained in China in December shortly after Meng was arrested at the Vancouver airport to face possible extradition to the United States.

In a transcript published on China’s Foreign Ministry website, Geng said “China-Canada relations have encountered serious difficulties due to Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou without cause.”

He said Canada needs to “deeply reflect upon its mistakes, put itself in a right position, stop its wrongdoing before it’s too late, and exercise prudence in words and deeds on Hong Kong-related issues. Otherwise, it will cause greater damage to our bilateral relations.”

The comments were just the latest rebuke from China.

On the weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, in a joint statement with her counterpart in the European Union, Federica Mogherini, urged Chinese restraint in Honk Kong amid “a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents.”

The next day Chinese officials accused Freeland of “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs.

Trudeau’s foreign policy speech Wednesday was wide-ranging and detailed his government’s support for a “rules-based international order,” where countries co-operate by taking part in global institutions such as the United Nations, NATO and the G7.

He boasted about his government’s success in signing trade deals with the United States and Mexico and with Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Under his Liberal government, he said, Canada has become a world leader on advocacy for climate change as well as the rights of women, girls and LGBTQ people.

Trudeau also made sure to take shots at the Conservatives, who he said envision a world where Canada “hectors from the sidelines” and “flirts with the forces of populism, whipping up fear and spreading misinformation.”

Canada can punch above its weight on the international stage, he said, adding that its national interests are intertwined with its international commitments to “preserve peace and security.”

ALSO READ: Huawei executive’s defence team alleges Canadians were ‘agents’ of the FBI

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps amidst court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Upgrades for Colwood’s Brook Creek Dam pouring in

Improvements to mitigate risks for residents

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

Provincial grant approved for deer contraception program

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read