Joly warns Canadian companies of 'risks' of business with China, says new policy soon

Canadians must weigh the "geopolitical risks" of doing business in China, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly warned Wednesday amid growing hopes for a policy reset that she confirmed would come "within a month."

During a talk for the Munk University School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Joly made some of the sharpest comments about the Chinese government to date—and vowed to change Canada's policy in the country.

“What I want to say to Canadians doing business in and with China: you have to be careful,” said Joly.

“(The decisions) you make as a businessman are your own. As Canada's top diplomat, my job is to inform you that there are geopolitical risks associated with doing business with the country."

During her speech, Joly detailed Canada's plans to deepen its ties with the Indo-Pacific region — and to take a tougher approach to emerging threats from that part of the world. The “full, funded” Indo-Pacific strategy, he said, “will be rolled out within a month.”

The announcement came after a report from Global News about China's alleged foreign interference campaign in Canada.

On Monday, Global News reported that Canadian intelligence officials warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that China had allegedly targeted Canada with a major campaign of foreign interference, including funding a secret network of at least 11 federal candidates running in the 2019 election.

Speaking on Wednesday, Joly assured Canadians that the government "will do more to tackle foreign interference."

"We will not allow foreign actors to interfere in our democracy. period," he said.

Joly added that Canada needs to address foreign influence at home and in the “digital sphere”

As part of that effort, he said the government would invest in “deepening our understanding of how China thinks, operates and plans. How it affects the region and around the world.”

The main embassies in the Canadian network will have "dedicated experts," Joly said, to deepen the government's understanding of China's goals and challenges.

"This will be the focus of our diplomatic efforts," he said.

While Joly offered few specific details about the plan and did not say how much money would be allocated to it, he assured the room that Canada's new approach to China "will be outlined" in its Indo-Pacific strategy released next month.

"We cannot have an Indo-Pacific strategy without it," he said.

Throughout his speech, Joly provided information about the upcoming strategy. For example, he said the government would help Canadian businesses working in China to "diversify and reduce risk across the region."

The government will also add a "national economic security lens" to foreign investment in Canada - including in the essential minerals sector.

In a press release issued shortly after Joly's speech, the Canadian Business Council welcomed Joly's announcement of an upcoming Indo-Pacific strategy — and advised the government "to work closely with business" as it finalizes the plan.

"Canada needs clear and consistent policies that govern how we engage with other Indo-Pacific nations, and, amid shifting geopolitical dynamics, it is critical that our efforts align with those of our allies including the United States," they said in a statement. .

“China's policy announced today combines a realistic assessment of regional risks and tensions with an honest acknowledgment that Canada must continue to work with China on global priorities such as emission reductions. ”

Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's former ambassador to China, was also pleased to see the planned changes in Canada's response to China.

"I think this is a big change in approach with China, which I welcome," he said.

However, Saint-Jacques said "the proof will be in the pudding."

"We'll have to see exactly how much new resources will be devoted to this exercise," he said.

“I think it will also be a very important signal for our partners in Asia.”

Joly realized that China's "sheer size" meant that Canada could not completely disengage from dealing with the country. The Chinese government's cooperation is needed, he said, to tackle issues such as global health, climate change and nuclear non-proliferation.

However, he has issued a sharp critique of China's rising expansionist ambitions, which have seen it tighten its grip on Hong Kong, and threaten Taiwan's independence, as well as the widely documented human rights abuses against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

“China is an increasingly disruptive global power,” Joly said.

“It seeks to shape the global environment into a more permissive environment for interests and values that are increasingly drifting away from us.” This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.

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