Ottawa knows what to do to improve ties

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Flags of Canada and China. IC/CHINA DAILY

Next month will mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Canada. As the two countries have had no conflicts of interests or historical disputes, the relationship, based on equality and mutual respect, has maintained a momentum of development over the past several decades, benefiting people in the two countries tremendously.

Thus it is sad to see the relationship caught in unprecedented and unnecessary frostiness. Ever since Dec 1, 2018, when Ottawa arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport at the request of Washington seeking her extradition on fraud charges, ties have worsened.

Meng and the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Her detention is a political maneuver by the US to blunt the Chinese company’s technological competitiveness globally using “long-arm jurisdiction”. This is evidenced by US President Donald Trump saying 10 days after her arrest that he would “certainly intervene” in Meng’s case if he thought it would help forge a trade deal with China.

Unfortunately, Canada misjudged the situation and what it has chosen to do in relation to the case actually goes against its claims of judicial independence. By succumbing to pressure from the US, it has unwisely become its accomplice. Of the dozens of countries the US asked to help it detain Meng, including its allies and those having bilateral extradition treaties with it, Canada is the only one that agreed to do so.

Meng’s case is the only major obstacle to an upturn in bilateral relations, and Ottawa is fully to blame for all that has evolved from its desire to appease the US during the negotiations on a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In a meeting he requested with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during Wang’s trip to Italy, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Ottawa is willing to work with Beijing to solve the current problems that hold back bilateral relations.

Over the past 50 years, China has always treasured its friendly and cooperative relationship with Canada and has never made any trouble to disrupt its development. Given that the two countries’ common ground far outweighs their differences, Canada should stand up to the US and do the right thing so that relations can move forward in a healthy and stable manner.

It is not too late for Ottawa to free itself from the shackles of third-party interference and mend its ties with China. All it needs to do is free Meng.