In what could be called a seismic shift of Canada’s policy towards China, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has warned Canadian businesses against deepening their ties with China. According to Canadian Press the announcement comes as part of a long-anticipated Indo-Pacific strategy which she says is coming by early December.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly made the remarks at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto ahead of her government introducing a Indo-Pacific strategy next month.
“The China of 1970 is not the China of today. China is an increasingly disruptive, global power,” Joly said. “It seeks to shape the global environment into one that is more permissive for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours.”
“We will challenge China when we ought to. We will cooperate with China when we must.”
Joly said Canada has serious concerns about Beijing undermining global security, commerce and peace. Part of that includes “credible accounts of human rights abuse and crimes against humanity” in the Xinjiang region against the Muslim minority known as the Uyghur, according to media reports.
“What I would like to say to Canadians doing business in and with China: You need to be clear-eyed. The decisions you take as businesspeople are your own. As Canada’s top diplomat, my job is to tell you that there are geopolitical risks linked to doing business with the country,” Joly said.
Positioning Canada as a reliable partner for the future— this is what our Indo-Pacific Strategy will be about, she said.
Canada will look to deepen links with India, which Joly noted is the world’s largest democracy.
“As India becomes the most populous country in the world, its leadership and influence will only continue to grow, both in the region and globally. With it, so will the opportunity for Canada,” she said.
Canada will also “deepen our existing friendships” with countries like Japan and South Korea, Joly said, promising to release the full Indo-Pacific strategy by early December.
Joly said Canada would “increase our military presence and enhance our defence and security relationships” with allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
In a press release issued shortly after Joly’s speech, the Business Council of Canada welcomed Joly’s announcement about coming Indo-Pacific strategy — and suggested the government “work closely with businesses” as it finalizes the plan.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO, Perrin Beatty, also responded, “As the Minister suggests, each business needs to consider carefully how and when to do business in China. We welcome the government’s commitment to broaden and deepen Canada’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, including in India. This region holds great potential for Canada, including for Canadian businesses, and we look forward to working with the government in both diversifying and strengthening our economic activities in the Indo-Pacific.”