Sun, Mar 24, 2019 - Page 16 News List

China halts Canadian canola seed buying

HUAWEI LINK?Former Canadian envoy David Mulroney said that conditions in the agriculture sector need to be considered when making technology-sector decisions

AP, TORONTO

China has stopped all new purchases of Canadian canola seeds in what some see as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為).

The Canola Council of Canada said on Thursday that exporters are reporting Chinese importers are unwilling to purchase the seeds at this time.

Last year, China bought about 40 percent of Canada’s canola exports for a total of US$2.1 billion.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said that Ottawa now needs to retaliate and should expel any Chinese athletes training in Canada for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022.

“We are going to lose billions [of] dollars in trade and it’s time to show our displeasure,” Saint-Jacques said.

Earlier this year, Beijing suspended canola imports from Canadian-based Richardson International Ltd for what one Chinese official alleged was the detection of hazardous organisms in the company’s product.

However, David Mulroney, another former Canadian ambassador to China, said the blockage of Canadian canola is “absolutely related” to the Huawei arrest.

Relations between the countries have been tense since Canada arrested Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) in Vancouver in early December last year at the request of the US.

US prosecutors have filed fraud charges against Meng, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei (任正非).

Mulroney said the latest move by China should convince the Canadian government that Huawei should be banned from supplying equipment for 5G networks in Canada.

“This is really the example that should convince people that the risk is too great,” Mulroney said.

Canada and its security agencies are studying whether to use equipment from Huawei as phone carriers prepare to roll out 5G technology.

“We are about to make a really, really important decision on the future of the technology on which our Internet is based,” Mulroney said. “How can we not at least consider what’s happening in the agriculture sector when we make a decision in the technology sector?”

“If China intervenes capriciously in one sector, might it not intervene capriciously in another? We have to turn the tables on China. China turns the tables on us,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada’s intelligence and security services are carefully examining Huawei.

He is optimistic his government will be able to solve the canola issue, Trudeau said, adding that a previous issue over canola exports to China in 2016 was solved.

Saint-Jacques said it is getting close to the point where Canada should expel China’s ambassador.

“He has not been helpful in this crisis,” he said. “When you look at what the Chinese are doing this is pretty significant.”

He also said that US President Donald Trump’s administration needs to speak up more on Canada’s behalf.

“We are in a big mess and Canadian farmers are going to suffer, and so the Americans should recognize they have some responsibility in this. And they should try to help us,” he said.

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