US under Biden could reboot Canada-China ties by dropping Meng Wanzhou extradition, Canadian ex-officials say
- Former foreign minister tells webinar Huawei could be charged in the case instead of the executive, with release of two Canadians held in China sought
- Ex-ambassador to Beijing calls for ‘elegant solution’ but also says Ottawa should take a firmer stand over issues like Hong Kong and Xinjiang
But they also said Canada should take a firmer stand on China.
“If they were to do that, this could obviously have a chance to reset relations, seek the release of the two Michaels and try to deal to reboot the relationship which can be on a much more professional footing,” he said.
How the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou soured China's relations with the US and Canada
Beijing denies any link between the cases, and has accused Canada of colluding with the US in holding Meng, who is under partial house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition in court.
Baird said Meng’s case “has not been handled well” by the Trudeau administration, which did not give a heads-up to the Chinese side ahead of the arrest, while a number of other countries had been asked by the US to arrest Meng but refused to do so.
Canada could also play a constructive role in the trilateral relationship “as a bridge of cultural dialogue and example of public diplomacy in promoting mutual respect”, Li Cheng, director of the John Thornton China Centre at the Brookings Institution, told the webinar.
According to Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to Beijing from 2012 to 2016, the report on the Meng plea deal talks, which cited people familiar with the matter, was “a calculated leak” that suggested serious discussions were under way.
He called for “an elegant solution”, noting that both Beijing and Washington had leeway to resolve the cases. “Otherwise we have to brace ourselves for years of difficulties,” Saint-Jacques said.
“The answer so far seems to be a resounding no” to the question of whether Canada can rely on China as a commercial and political partner, he said.
“Our revised engagement strategy would be based on our national interests and values, as well as reciprocity and transparency and being a lot more selective,” he said. “We are ready for a constructive engagement with China as long as it respects international laws and treaties and stops acting as a bully.”