Perhaps we have all wondered about the political shrewdness of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his government. China’s furious fallout over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive, is likely to cause a severe and recurring damage to Canadian national interests.
Trudeau’s groveling over American demands, is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.
The recent arrest in Canada – on behalf of Washington -– that of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans who had acted politically and vindictively. If the world has seen Americans, to be acting like ‘rogues’, then the Canadians have behaved like their trustworthy lackeys.
Wanzhou’s arrest in Canada has made her a household name. She was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police, when she boarded a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner. This has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.
The Chinese business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.
To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the behest of the Americans. However, a US extradition warrant has not been filed.
That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman is expected to be living under curfew—-her freedom denied.
Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws, on a third party.
Black has further contended that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran, in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.
In any case, what the real issue is about… is the fact that Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington had made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors, in a strategic sector.
US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security could be deemed as propaganda ruses, to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.
It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments in the past week, made to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”
It is indeed a fact fact that a respectable Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.
Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation or control, to state officially, following Trump’s ‘thuggish’ comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?
The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.
Only after Trump revealed the cynical expediency of his ‘help’ in freeing Wanzhou, the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for their ‘image’ of sycophants, that they had built up, in a bid to appease the superpower neighbor.
That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.
Canadian premier Justin Trudeau had innocently claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Despite the 1000 watt smile he carried, Trudeau had performed like a sham.
In view of the sensitive, high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, has believed that Trudeau would have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou, and moreover, that he personally signed off on it.
What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for an American ‘bully’, is also far from clear. Maybe, after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit. Earlier this year, in June, Trudeau had thought perhaps, it was best to roll over and be a good little pet for the Americans, in their high profile ‘deed’ against China.
As it is now, and has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed, for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.
This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.
Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have also begun boycotting Canadian exports. Needless today, sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing.
A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing, now looks dead in the water.
And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing, motivating him to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look no less a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington.
With Justin’s blunder, Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.
With comic irony, we can observe Canada’s knee-jerk reaction, as the country would recoil from a saga of grave proportions. We may also witness Justin Trudeau being trapped in his own, personal dimension to this unseemly saga.
I remember the stories from Canada, in my tender years, when during the 70s, Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. She was often in the gossip columns of newspapers. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has claimed in his autobiography, that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band. Her racy escapades and extravagant lifestyle were matters of concern for all those who knew the Trudeaus.
Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, stepping into difficult times, financially speaking.
Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a ‘groupie’ for Washington’s Varanasi style Thuggery, is also bringing humiliation for him and his country.