Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech before the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations in Montreal on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Canada won’t back down in its defence of Canadians against an increasingly assertive China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday following another round of sharp criticism from the Asian country.

The federal government is closely monitoring the protest movement in Hong Kong, where there are 300,000 Canadian citizens, Trudeau said in a speech in Montreal. The prime minister added his government has been “working tirelessly” to secure the release of two Canadians detained in China.

“As a global community, we must recognize that China is a growing power and increasingly assertive towards its place in the international order,” Trudeau told the audience at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations event.

“But make no mistake: We will always defend Canadians and Canadian interests.”

The prime minister said Canada will continue to engage in dialogue with the Asian power, but it won’t stop standing up for fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly.

“We do not escalate, but we do not back down,” he said.

Trudeau’s speech came a day after Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters Canada needs to “stop its wrongdoing before it’s too late.”

Canada’s relationship with China is fraught with tension over Canada’s arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou, and China’s subsequent detention of two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, allegedly for national security reasons.

Trudeau said the government is working to obtain the release of Spavor and Kovrig, who were detained in China in December shortly after Meng was arrested at the Vancouver airport to face possible extradition to the United States.

In a transcript published on China’s Foreign Ministry website, Geng said “China-Canada relations have encountered serious difficulties due to Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou without cause.”

He said Canada needs to “deeply reflect upon its mistakes, put itself in a right position, stop its wrongdoing before it’s too late, and exercise prudence in words and deeds on Hong Kong-related issues. Otherwise, it will cause greater damage to our bilateral relations.”

The comments were just the latest rebuke from China.

On the weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, in a joint statement with her counterpart in the European Union, Federica Mogherini, urged Chinese restraint in Honk Kong amid “a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents.”

The next day Chinese officials accused Freeland of “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs.

Trudeau’s foreign policy speech Wednesday was wide-ranging and detailed his government’s support for a “rules-based international order,” where countries co-operate by taking part in global institutions such as the United Nations, NATO and the G7.

He boasted about his government’s success in signing trade deals with the United States and Mexico and with Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Under his Liberal government, he said, Canada has become a world leader on advocacy for climate change as well as the rights of women, girls and LGBTQ people.

Trudeau also made sure to take shots at the Conservatives, who he said envision a world where Canada “hectors from the sidelines” and “flirts with the forces of populism, whipping up fear and spreading misinformation.”

Canada can punch above its weight on the international stage, he said, adding that its national interests are intertwined with its international commitments to “preserve peace and security.”

ALSO READ: Huawei executive’s defence team alleges Canadians were ‘agents’ of the FBI

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley Nordic Club hosting Teck Kootenay Cup races 5 and 6 in February

The races will take place on February 8 and 9, 2020.

Kimberley couple rescued by Fernie Search and Rescue

Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated twice this past weekend to… Continue reading

Jared du Toit qualifies for 2020 PGA Tour Latinoamérica

Kimberley’s Jared du Toit won the PGA Tour Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament Mexico… Continue reading

Friday fatality at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Kimberley Dynamiters win two overtime games on weekend

The Kimberley Dynamiters were celebrating as though they had won, and the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read