Mexico is China's ally
Warning for Europe: A close ally is just beginning to feel how merciless China can be
Antonio Masiello, Getty Images
It's better not to mess with China. Foreign companies have known this for a long time, and Canada now knows it too. It would not have needed Beijing's latest blow against the North American country for that. It came anyway: China has stopped imports of pork and beef from Canada with immediate effect.
Clear. The Canadian government would vehemently deny having messed with the world's second largest economy. In her opinion, the row between the two countries did not start because the government in Ottawa had thought: We’ll annoy the Chinese. It started because the Canadian judiciary arrested Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, in early December. She is accused of bank fraud in the US in connection with violations of Iran sanctions. And because the judiciary in Canada, as in other modern democracies, is independent, the government cannot simply interfere.
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China obviously sees it differently. Anyway, things happened pretty quickly after Meng's arrest. A few days later, two Canadian citizens were jailed in China. A few weeks later, China's ban hit Canadian rapeseed producers. And now Beijing was also targeting meat production. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had already sharply criticized the arrest of the two Canadians, even calling it “arbitrary”. To this day, it has not had any effect. The two Canadians are still in custody. And even worse: Chinese diplomats no longer even want to meet with Canadian representatives. There is radio silence between Ottawa and Beijing.
China meat ban hits Canadian farmers hard
The Chinese meat ban is likely to massively affect Canada's agriculture. In April of this year alone, around 20 percent of pork exports went to China. If this market breaks down, there is a risk of overproduction in Canada. That should depress meat prices, which in turn harms producers.
China has officially declared a stop on Canadian meat because the feed additive ractopamine, which is banned in China, was found in Canadian pork. That comes from a statement on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Canada. Falsified veterinary certificates were found in up to 188 cases. From Canada it was said that there were problems with some certificates. The law enforcement agency was informed.
Experts believe, however, that in this case, too, it is not just about health reasons. The Chinese reaction was far too disproportionate for that. They suspect that China wants to put Canada under further pressure. Beijing is obviously convinced that the Canadian government can intervene in the trial against Meng, and could even protect the Huawei founder's daughter from extradition to the USA.
Canadian newspaper: "enough is enough"
And, in her opinion, Ottawa should kindly do that: After all, this is not about any citizen of any state, but about a prominent businesswoman from China, the country that wants to become number one in this world by 2050 at the latest. In this respect, the case of Canada is also a clear warning for Europe. Better not mess with this China!
Meanwhile, domestic pressure is mounting on Canada's Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Conservative opposition leader Andrew Scheer tweeted that Canadian farmers would now have to pay for Trudeau's weakness. The prime minister failed to assert himself against China. Matt Gurney, commentator in the renowned Canadian newspaper “National Post” even headlined: “Enough is enough. Bans and boycotts Huawei until China gives in. "
But that should be easier said than done. The 37-million-inhabitant middleweight Canada is much more dependent on the 1.4-billion-inhabitant heavyweight China than the other way around. In Canada they are all the more hoping that the USA will bail them out.
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Just a few days ago, US President Donald Trump assured Trudeau that he would try everything to help Canada. In fact, a meeting between the US president and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is planned for the G-20 summit in Osaka, which begins on Friday. At first sight, the two heads of state want to talk about the trade conflict between their countries. Canada can only hope that Trump will find time in the meantime to present Ottawa's concerns as well.
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