Commentary: Training exercise carfaffles show that Canada’s Chinese policy needs to be revised-nationwide

At this point, it’s hard to think that Canada has a bigger global enemy than China. Thus, it seems natural that any kind of joint military exercise with China should be taken off the table.

It now seems to be a common attitude in Ottawa, but it’s a shame that this wasn’t a clear consensus long ago.

I think it’s better than being late.

Global Affairs Canada officials pushed back last week after the Globe and Mail decided that Canadian Defense Secretary General Jonathan Vance would cancel a joint training exercise between Canadian and Chinese soldiers at CFB Petawawa. It became clear that

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General Vance was clearly asked by the United States to stop the exercise, but international officials were concerned that Beijing might see it as retaliation for the arrest and detention of Canadians Michael Spaver and Michael Kovrig. ..

Last week again, two Michaels were taken prisoner for two years, and the end was invisible. It is clear enough that China is engaged in hostage diplomacy, and the idea that Canada will consider some form of retaliation seems almost indisputable. Not welcoming PLA members to Canada seems less provocative in that situation, not to mention Canadian military bases. Much more disturbing of all this is the lack of concern for these two Canadian citizens.

When the details of this story became clear, there was no shortage of pointing in Ottawa. After all, both liberals and conservatives had valid points. But in the end, it’s a sad commentary for both sides.

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There are many mistakes made by the Liberal government when it comes to dealing with China. On this issue, it seems very clear that this training exercise would have been going on last year without the intervention of General Vance — our own close allies are clearly very concerned. Even if it was.

However, the Liberal Party correctly points out that military exercises are the product of an agreement signed in 2013 under the previous conservative government. However, this does not take liberals off-hook, as the liberals thought it was appropriate to leave everything in place, despite the growing escalation on the Chinese side in recent years.

The Conservatives clearly cannot escape the fact that they oversaw this agreement with China, but claim that there have been many changes since 2013. This is arguably true, but the Conservatives have remained silent about the agreement up to this point. ..

At what point did they actually conclude that this agreement should no longer be in force, and why did they not express their opinion at that time? Did they forget that it existed before it was recently remembered about it?

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Perhaps we need to understand that the two parties now see their relationship with China in a very different way, and that there is something close to an agreement to see China as a warlike enemy. Ideally, we would get a bipartisan consensus on this question, and maybe it should include passing the bygone with respect to past misjudgments and failures.

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Hearing Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan saying: It was definitely a step in the right direction. “We will always stand up for Canadians who are arbitrarily detained. This is one of the reasons we actually stopped training with Chinese.”

But we need more than just courtesy. The Liberal Party has promised a new Chinese policy framework, but we haven’t seen it yet. It is certainly fair to blame the government for stumbling upon issues that deserve a much more urgent level.

All that is common sense about joint military exercises is good, but obviously there are still ways to adjust China’s policies to reflect today’s reality.

Rob Breakenridge is the host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator on Global News.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Commentary: Training exercise carfaffles show that Canada’s Chinese policy needs to be revised-nationwide

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