Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is boosting military spending and expanding trade ties in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a “generational” policy shift aimed at countering China’s influence.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affair Melanie Joly on Sunday morning released her nation’s Indo-Pacific strategy, including nearly US$1.7 billion in spending. That money is being used for more navy patrols in the region, better intelligence and cybersecurity measures, and increased cooperation with regional partners in the East and South China seas.
The 26-page document — unveiled by Joly and a trio of other ministers in Vancouver, with Trudeau’s defense head holding a virtual briefing later on Sunday — includes a lengthy section on China, which it refers to as an “increasingly disruptive global power.”
It cites multiple military, security and economic threats posed by the Beijing, while acknowledging the need to work with it on issues such as climate change, global health, biodiversity and nuclear nonproliferation.
Joly, in an hour-long interview with Bloomberg News ahead of the strategy statement’s release, said the world’s geopolitical “tectonic plates” are shifting. That is threatening international norms that have kept the world safe since World War II, as well as creating supply chain uncertainty and inflation.
“When it comes to China, we know that there’s a battle of influence happening in the region,” she said on Friday in Montreal. “So we have to step up our game.”
Canada will also toughen its rules around foreign investment and take other steps to defend itself from “foreign interference,” the document says.
Its publication comes less than two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) confronted Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia, admonishing the Canadian leader for providing the media with information about an earlier discussion.
Joly told Bloomberg the encounter did not surprise her, as she has also had “frank conversations” with her Chinese counterpart in the course of diplomacy.
“You saw what we see happening normally,” she said. “You just had a glimpse of the political reality.”
She also said crafting an Indo-Pacific strategy would have been fruitless without addressing China’s growing influence, “the elephant in the room.”
Canada will increase its diplomatic and trade presence to create a more predictable environment for business investment in Asia, Joly said, adding that it plans to invest C$750 million (US$558 million) in sustainable infrastructure projects, which it hopes would attract further capital from Canadian pension funds.
At the same time, increased military cooperation with regional partners would protect the country’s Pacific interests, just as alliances with Europe through NATO, and the US through the North American Aerospace Defense Command, have historically protected its Arctic and Atlantic interests, she said.
Canada would invest almost C$500 million over five years on enhanced defense in the region, she said.
“For a long time we’ve defined ourselves through the relationship we have with Europe,” Joly said. “It is time to look towards the Pacific.”
The strategy contains a section devoted to deepening economic ties with India, and another devoted to Japan and South Korea — a neighborhood it dubs the North Pacific.
Canada has struggled to diversify its Pacific trading relationships beyond China, its second-largest trade partner after the US. Trade with China totaled C$125.8 billion in the last 12 months to September, representing 8.6 percent of trade flows, Statistics Canada data showed. That compares with less than 7 percent from all other major Indo-Pacific countries combined — a proportion that is little changed since 1997, when Canada-China trade was minimal.
There are numerous planks in the strategy meant to grow Canada’s trade relationships, including a new series of “Team Canada” trade missions to bring business leaders to Indo-Pacific countries, and a C$65.1 million program to increase Canada’s science and research partnerships with Taiwan, South Korea, India, Japan and Singapore.
The C$750 million infrastructure program is the largest ticket item in the plan, and is part of Canada’s contribution to the US$600 billion G7 infrastructure plan announced earlier this year to counter China’s Belt and Road program.
Over a few hours under gray skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, in a demonstration of US military power in some of the world’s most hotly contested waters. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and F/A-18 Hornet jets bearing pilot call signs such as “Fozzie Bear,” “Pig Sweat” and “Bongoo” emit deafening screams as they land in the drizzle on the Nimitz, which is leading a carrier strike group that entered the South China Sea two weeks ago. US Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, who is commanding the group, said the tour
RISING RISK: With no communication between nations flying jets closely over the South China Sea, one mistake by a pilot could quickly escalate a situation, an expert said The China Coast Guard (CCG) maintained near-daily patrols at key features across the disputed South China Sea last year, ramping up its presence as tensions over the waterway with Southeast Asian neighbors remain high, new tracking data shows. Patrols in the waters surrounding the Vanguard Bank off Vietnam, an area known for its oil and gas reserves and the site of repeated standoffs between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, more than doubled to 310 days last year, the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said. The number of days Chinese ships patrolled near Second Thomas Shoal (Renai Shoal, 仁愛暗) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
‘DISTURBING’: Nearly half of 16 to 21-year-olds assumed that girls either ‘expect’ or ‘enjoy’ sex which involves physical aggression, such as airway restriction One in 10 children have watched pornography by the time they are nine years old, according to “disturbing” new research by the children’s commissioner for England. The report found that one-quarter of pupils in their final year of primary school had already been exposed. It also showed much of the material being consumed by children and young people featured violence. Four out of five (79 percent) of those surveyed had seen pornography involving violence by the age of 18, while one in three young people have actively sought out depictions of sexual violence such as physical aggression, coercion and degradation. The report, by