The coronavirus pandemic and the Chinese regime’s behaviour throughout are driving home the need for Canada and other Western allies to start “decoupling” from the country, says Canada’s former ambassador to China.
At the same time, David Mulroney warns the regime is using global focus on the pandemic to “demolish” its one country, two systems deal on the governance of Hong Kong.
“I think we’ve got to take a much more active role and understand that things are changing in fundamental ways and we’ve got to get our own system in shape, and part of that involves what could be referred to as decoupling,” said Mulroney in an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.
He said compared to countries like Australia that have been leading the push for a global “reappraisal” of relations with China, Canada has become a “laggard.”
Questions about the origins and potential mishandling of the coronavirus spread have centered on China, with many countries also renewing expressions of support in varying degrees for Taiwan.
The island nation, which China claims as its territory, has largely succeeded in controlling the spread of the coronavirus and that’s led to — so far unsuccessful — calls for it to be included at avenues like the recent World Health Assembly meeting.
China vehemently opposes any recognition or inclusion of Taiwan at international fora.
But while Taiwan has dominated headlines, the attention is shifting to another island where Chinese aggression is raising renewed fears.
China is moving to implement new national security laws over Hong Kong that will effectively strip the former British colony of its last shreds of autonomy.
The city, also a global financial hub, became a British colony in 1842 while the last of the imperial dynasties in China still held power.
Britain returned Hong Kong to the current Chinese government in 1997.
But that deal was authorized and supported, including by allies like Canada, under the agreement that Hong Kong would maintain its democratic system and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China.
Over recent years though, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been eroding that one country, two systems agreement and Mulroney warned China is now using global focus on the pandemic to finish the job.
“China, seeing us all distracted by the pandemic, is going to do the work itself,” Mulroney said.
“This is really the last step in dismantling one country, two systems, and really reneging on the deal.”
“This is China reneging on this, demolishing it and it’s yet another reason why we need to rethink about a world that is more dominated by China where we really need to remodel our foreign policy.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern about the situation on Friday.
Canada has 300,000 citizens in Hong Kong and has previously raised cautious concerns in the past when pro-democracy protests in the city faced violent backlash from law enforcement.
“That’s one of the reasons why we want to ensure that the one country, two systems approach continues for Hong Kong,” Trudeau said when asked about the matter.
The new law in question was submitted to the Chinese legislature on Friday.
It seeks to ban anything it deems to be secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism.
However, the Chinese regime considers virtually any domestic criticism of its actions as such.