The Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network adamantly opposes the visit of a delegation of Canadian MP’s to Taiwan proposed for October 2022. This delegation, to be led by the Minister for Foreign Trade, Judy Sgro, will inevitably worsen Canadian relations with China, our second largest trading partner, and raise tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, which could easily lead to war.
Sgro’s proposed visit to Taiwan follows closely on the heels of that of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The Chinese government reacted angrily to Pelosi’s visit by staging military exercises encircling Taiwan and by ending ongoing discussions with the US for cooperation on several subjects, including climate change. The Chinese position on Taiwan is that it is an integral part of China, an understanding called the One China Policy, which the USA, the UN, Canada, and the vast majority of the countries of the world signed onto 50 years ago. Indeed, only 13 countries of the world today recognize Taiwan as an independent state.
Pelosi’s visit was not a personal jaunt. Clearly, it received the green light from President Biden and other senior administration figures. It followed Barack Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” in 2012 during which the USA decided to concentrate its military forces and political attention on containing the rising global influence of the Peoples Republic of China, which the Obama Administration regarded as a rival and potential threat. Pelosi’s visit and that of Sgro were both designed to isolate and weaken China and sow the kind of instability that results in increased US and Canadian arms sale abroad.
Now, with Sgro’s proposed delegation to Taiwan, it appears that the Trudeau government of Canada, like the vassal state it showed itself to be by arresting Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, at the behest of Donald Trump in 2018, is also doing its own “pivot to Asia”, likewise falsely designating China as a bully and threat to Taiwan, instead of adhering to its own 50-year-old acceptance of the One China Policy. The opposition political parties in the House of Commons are also on the warpath against China, having voted unanimously to accuse the People’s Republic of a genocide of Uyghurs in its Xinjiang province. (The Canadian Senate, however, defeated the proposition.) All in all, however, Canada is sacrificing 50 years of prosperity with China to jump on the US war wagon.
Canadians need to understand that the Chinese people are still smarting from the Chinese “century of humiliation” which lasted from 1840 to 1949, during which foreign colonial powers divided up the territory of China; occupied many parts of it, including Hong Kong and Taiwan; and forced humiliating “concessions” on the Chinese people, reducing most of them to grinding poverty. Only since the formation of the Peoples Republic has the Chinese state been able gradually to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, by reassuming control of important parts of the country such as Hong Kong. Moreover, the Chinese government achieved the remarkable feat of raising 800 million people out of poverty, a success unsurpassed in history.
Despite assurances by Sgro that she intends to be “diplomatic in (her) comments” while in Taiwan, she asserts that her trip is “necessary” to “protect other countries that have fought for their freedom and for their democracy.” She adds that she’s “proud that Canada is standing up to China.” And she thinks that “pushback is important.” To be fair to the Minister, she also hopes the trip will increase opportunities for Canadian businesses. Her delegation to Taiwan will likely get Trudeau’s blessing to proceed and be hosted by the Taiwanese government, whose Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada has already expressed its full support for the mission.
As Minister of International Trade, Sgro already has a record of supporting the pro-independence government of Taiwan, nurtured for years by the USA. Sgro is chair of the parliamentary committee, the Canada-Taiwan Friendship Group. In a tweet of January 11, 2020, Sgro congratulated President Tsai Ingwen, a strong proponent of Taiwanese independence, on her election win.
Taiwan has been part of China for hundreds of years. It was seized by the Imperial Japanese government in 1895 as a spoil of the First Sino-Japanese War. During WW2, while Japan was allied to Hitler’s Nazi government, Japan used “Formosa” as a launching pad for its attempted conquest of China and other Southeast Asian colonies of France, the Netherlands, and Britain. Following the Chinese civil war (1945-49), the pro-Western Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai Shek fled the mainland to Taiwan and established a military dictatorship that lasted forty years, all the while claiming to be the sovereign government of all China. There was not a peep about the lack of democracy in Taiwan from the US or Canada in that whole time. The very first direct election for the presidency of Taiwan took place only in 1996.
For his part, the Chinese Ambassador to Canada warned, “China will take resolute and forceful measures against any country that attempts to interfere with or infringe upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
For our part, the CWPJN calls on the Trudeau government to:
– cancel Sgro’s proposed delegation to Taiwan;
– stop prodding China with naval provocations and baseless accusations;
– end all of Canada’s unilateral (and therefore illegal) economic sanctions against the PRC;
– establish a Canada-China Parliamentary Friendship Group;
– cooperate with China on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Cooperation with China is vital to making progress on the Paris Agreement. China is a global leader on renewable energy technologies and international development. On the eve of Climate Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Canada should not be antagonizing China but should be finding ways to collaborate on common environmental and social challenges.*
Sept 20, 2022
*China and renewable energy technologies: https://www.iea.org/commentaries/a-new-era-of-shared-clean-energy-leadership-begins-in-china