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Canada

MARIN: Canada becomes a pawn in economic war between U.S. and China

What do you do when confronted by a bully?

Simple — you fight back and don’t let them get the best of you.

That’s the situation Canada faces in its continued row with China

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained by Canadian authorities in Vancouver last December. She was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by the U.S. on serious allegations, including some related to sanctions against Iran. All within the parameters of the law and exercised by independent officials.

China had a hissy fit and retaliated against Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig by ordering their detention. Two other Canadians have also been ordered to face the death penalty. Then Beijing imposed trade sanctions on Canadian canola, pork, beef and other food products.

While Canada was trying to play by the rule of law, U.S. President Donald Trump hinted he might take advantage of the rift between Canada and China and decide not to bring Weng to justice in return for additional trade concessions from China.

Canada is caught in the middle of a dispute between two of the world’s most powerful economies who are prepared to trample on due process for economic advantage. To make matters worse, the Chinese are refusing to speak to either Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. They’ve run to the corner like a spoiled pouting child who was denied ice cream.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien has stepped into the breach presenting himself as the honest broker. He’s not so much proposing a negotiation — he just wants Canada to cave in to the Chinese by dropping extradition proceedings against Meng. But that would be a cop out.

Freeland is right to call this a “dangerous” proposal. What kind of message would we be sending to the world if we tampered with our legal system to obtain the release of arbitrarily detain innocent Canada held captive abroad and to deal with retaliatory trade measures?

The whole unraveling of our relationship with China is not due to this one incident alone. We have to bear some responsibility for continually meddling in their internal affairs. For example, Thursday Freeland slammed China over its proposed new law to extradite people for trial from Hong Kong to mainland China.

Was it really necessary to pour fuel on fire? Can Freeland just not pick her battles?

How would we react if China condemned Canada for admitting we are still carrying out genocide on Indigenous people as Trudeau conceded last week?

China was swift in its response: “Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, (which) no other country, organization or individual has the right to interfere in,” the embassy statement said.

Trudeau’s nickname when we were playing kissy-face with the Chinese in 2015 was “little potato.” His nickname now is likely something along the lines of “sour prune.”

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose for a photo as Trudeau arrives at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

One piece of advice for Trudeau when he meets with Trump next week. Trudeau needs to tell Trump not to use us as a pawn in waging economic war with China.

Trump has shown himself to be relentless in his America First policy and has shown little interest in wanting to help friendly countries in distress. He would throw us under the bus for a positive Fox network headline.

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