Canada launches new Indo-Pacific strategy

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Canada has launched its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at deepening ties with the fast-growing region.

The 26-page document outlined C$2.6 billion ($1.9 billion) spending, including to boost Canada’s military presence and cyber security in the region and tighten foreign investment rules to protect intellectual property and prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from snapping up critical mineral supplies.

While aiming to work with China, the world’s second-biggest economy on climate change and trade issues, the blueprint also voted more resources to combat China’s disruptiveness at a moment when bilateral ties are frosty.

“China is an increasingly disruptive global power,” stated the strategy.

“China is looking to shape the international order into a more permissive environment for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours.”

The strategy highlighted Beijing’s “foreign interference and increasingly coercive treatment of other countries.”

“Our approach … is shaped by a realistic and clear-eyed assessment of today’s China. In areas of profound disagreement, we will challenge China,” it said.

According to the document, Canada would boost its naval presence in the region and increase its military engagement and intelligence capacity as a means of mitigating coercive behavior and threats to regional security.

Also Read: Nigeria, Canada Agree To Deepen Relations

Tensions soared in late 2018 after Canadian police detained a Huawei Technologies executive and Beijing subsequently arrested two Canadians on spying charges. All three were released last year, but relations remain sour.

The document said Ottawa was engaging in the region with partners such as the United States and the European Union.

Canada needs to keep talking to nations it has fundamental disagreements with, it said, but did not name them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government wants to diversify trade and economic ties that are overwhelmingly reliant on the United States.

Official data for September show bilateral trade with China accounted for under 7% of the total, compared to 68% for the United States.

The document recognized the significant opportunities for Canadian exporters and said co-operation with Beijing was necessary to address some of the “world’s existential pressures,” including climate change, global health and nuclear proliferation.

Canada belongs to the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, which wants significant measures in response to North Korean missile launches.

 

Reuters/Zainab Sa’id

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