Trudeau is playing a game he can’t win

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When the RCMP arrested Chinese financial giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, as she was on a stopover in Vancouver, you knew there would be consequences.

The fact that Canada was merely following an extradition request from the Americans and was simply abiding by its international obligations would not wash with the Chinese authorities.

China was not surprisingly outraged and was quick to threaten Canada with “serious consequences”.  Trade Minister Jim Carr must have been wearing rose-coloured glasses when he stated that the relationship with China was not affected by this episode.  Since then, the Chinese authorities have arrested not one, not two, but three Canadian citizens: former diplomat Michael Kovrig, travel agent Michael Spavor and a third one whose arrest was confirmed by Global Affairs Canada Tuesday, with no details being provided.

Make no mistake.  These arrests, certainly in the case of Kovrig and Spavor, were targeted and they were not a coincidence.

A little more surprising was the reaction of our American neighbours, for whom this arrest was made after all.   After having inserted an anti-China clause in the USMCA trade deal, US President Donald Trump said he would intervene in favour of Ms. Meng if it could lead to a trade deal with China.

Once again, Canada is caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to please the unpleasable giants.  While Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had it right when she said that Canada was merely following the rule of law and that our partners should not try to politicize the process, that won’t impress Donald Trump much.

What wouldn’t have impressed the Donald either: if Canada had let Ms. Meng escape through “creative incompetence”, as suggested by former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley in a recent interview on CTV’s Question Period.  I’d expect the Donald would have gone ballistic if the Americans had found out about Canada’s “creative incompetence”.

The Liberal government is doing its best to claim there was no political interference.  But Communist Chinese officials do not believe it or perhaps do not care.  It is important to keep this in mind.  The thirst for the Chinese market cannot allow us to play these kinds of games.

More from Karl Bélanger    Follow Karl Bélanger on Twitter at @KarlBelanger.

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