While big European countries are having serious second thoughts about joining the US economic war against China, America’s English-speaking allies are falling in line. Having kept a low profile since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Canada is the latest to take a sharp turn in vocally joining the US campaign of China containment. On Sunday, Ottawa published its new Indo-Pacific strategy and declared China “an increasingly disruptive global power”, exactly the same phrase recently used by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. A good part of the strategy means boosting Canada’s military presence and cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific region. It’s an interesting choice of phrase. So while China is a “disruptive global power”, Canada, a North American country, is going halfway around the world to Asia to confront China in its own backyard. “Disruptive” obviously is a relative term. The blueprint aims to deepen ties with the region of 40 countries that is the key growth engine of the world economy, accounting for almost US$40 trillion in economic activity. However, China is mentioned more than 50 times in the document. It’s not clear how Canada can benefit from Asia’s economic growth and security order while taking on and containing the region’s No 1 economy. That rather defies elementary economic logic. If the United States-led containment warfare – which Ottawa has now so enthusiastically joined – is successful, not only will the region become less secure and economically vibrant, but also may become the site of origin for the third world war. Most countries in the region have no interest in being dragged into this great-power rivalry. Perhaps Canada should consult them first before sabre-rattling its military and cyber hardware in the neighbourhood of other people. When the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau first came to power, it wanted to diversify its economy with China because of its excessive reliance on the US. Now, it doesn’t think unrestricted trade with China is such a good idea. That’s perfectly reasonable. A country is free to trade with whomever it wants. In terms of bilateral trade today, China merely accounts for about 7 per cent of the total, compared with 68 per cent with the US. The latest security commitment by Ottawa will mean even less trade with China and Canada will become even more dependent on the US. If so, does Canada really have a dog in the fight over in the Pacific and Indian oceans? Canada unveils new Indo-Pacific strategy, eyes ‘disruptive’ China Perhaps it’s more a case of: Where the US goes, Canada will follow. Cold warriors 2.0 in Washington have already framed global politics today as a titanic struggle between autocracy and democracy. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland – who is most likely to succeed Trudeau as leader of the Liberal Party and is of Ukrainian descent – has been using the same Manichaean language to describe China and Russia. Canada at least has gone through a period of soul-searching and hesitation, especially during the Huawei diplomatic crisis over China’s detention of the two Michaels, before joining the fray now. Australia has been more gung-ho than some US politicians. It will allow the US to deploy a fleet of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to northern Australia. Imagine that! It’s a good thing its federal leaders are all housed in Canberra, sitting well away and comfortably in the southeastern part of the continent, as they are about to paint a nuclear target on their own country. This is not to mention that it broke contractual obligations with the French just so it could switch its submarines to the US nuclear-powered model. Such a devoted ally, considering Australia’s economic boom in the past three decades was pegged to China’s economic rise! Meanwhile, Britain was about to go in the same route as Australia under Liz Truss, who was ready to declare China “a threat” to her country’s national security. Unfortunately, her government self-imploded faster than she could sign any document. Her successor, Rishi Sunak, prefers less belligerent language. But his is a caretaker government. We will have to wait for a general election to see how the next government takes on China. Most likely, Labour or Tory, it will be a repeat of “standing shoulder to shoulder” with its American cousin, as in the last illegal invasion of Iraq. Canada probes reports of Chinese ‘police service stations’ as security threats Speaking at a think tank in Washington early this month, France’s former ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, was voicing what has been on the minds of many people in Asia and Europe. The “rules-based order” is actually an unfairly dictated “Western order”. The United States, he said, was engaged in “economic warfare” against China, and Europe was worried about Washington’s “containment policy,” because many European countries did not want to be forced to “choose a camp” in a new cold war. Talk of American leadership was “simply trying to keep the Western hegemony”. “I’ve always been extremely sceptical about this idea of a ‘rules-based order’,” Araud said. “This order frankly – and you can also be sarcastic, because, when the Americans basically want to do whatever they want, including when it’s against international law, as they define it, they do it. And that’s the vision that the rest of the world has of this order.” Amen to that.