NDP further to right than Macron over China

Heather McPherson Official Portrait / Portrait Officiel,
Ottawa, ONTARIO, Canada on October 28, 2021.
Credit: Mélanie Provencher, House of Commons Photo Services

The French president’s recent statement on China ought to embarrass the NDP’s foreign affairs critic. But with the US empire’s perspective dominating Canadian media it’s unlikely.

On a visit to Beijing Emmanuel Macron said Europe should distance itself from US-Chinese tensions over Taiwan. Calling for Europe to avoid being drawn into “block-to-block logic” or becoming a US “vassal”, Macron told an interviewer, “Is it in our interest to accelerate on the subject of Taiwan? No. The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and adapt to the American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction.”

At the same time as Macron was warning Europe against adopting Washington’s position on Taiwan, NDP foreign critic Heather McPherson was stoking tension over the island. McPherson was part of a parliamentary delegation to Taiwan, which follows last summer’s controversial trip by former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a recent visit to the US by Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen. At the same time as Washington promotes Taiwanese separatism Joe Biden has said the US would go to war over Taiwan.

Prior to joining the Taipei-sponsored trip, McPherson told the Globe and Mail and Hill Times that the trip was designed to combat a common threat. “Taiwan has dealt with Chinese interference, and Chinese misinformation and disinformation campaigns for a very long time, and I think there are things that Canada can and should be learning from the Taiwanese,” McPherson told the Hill Times.

During the visit the Canadian parliamentarians met Taiwan’s foreign minister and president. Afterwards McPherson tweeted, “Canada and Taiwan have shared values, a strong and mutually beneficial relationship, and there is much we can learn from each other.”

As part of setting the stage for the visit, the Special Committee on the Canada– People’s Republic of China Relationship, which McPherson vice-chairs, released “Canada and Taiwan: A Strong Relationship in Turbulent Times”. By upending the status quo, the report stokes tension over Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province (the government in Taipei also considers itself the government of all of China). Since the 1970s the US and Canada have adhered to “One China” policies, recognizing one country led by Beijing that includes Taiwan.

At the end of World War II Canada recognized that Taiwan was part of China. After Washington’s effort to entrench the post-1949 Chinese revolution separation of Taiwan from the mainland the notes from a head of division External Affairs meeting explained, “The Canadian view is that in principle we adhere to the Cairo Declaration which promised the restoration of Formosa [Taiwan] to the Chinese state. This promise was confirmed by the Potsdam Agreement upon which the Japanese instrument of surrender was based and which was signed by Canada. The political wisdom of repudiating wartime undertakings is doubtful. Furthermore, the de facto administration of Formosa by the Chinese government has been acquiesced in by the Canadian government through acceptance of a note by the Chinese government in 1946 stating that Formosa was restored to Chinese sovereignty and Formosans had regained their Chinese citizenship.”

The parliamentary visit along with the Canada and Taiwan report chip away at the One China policy despite Beijing stating clearly it won’t accept Taiwan declaring independence and will resort to force to secure it if necessary.

“That the Government of Canada offer and declare its clear and unwavering commitment that the future of Taiwan must only be the decision of the people of Taiwan.

“That the Government of Canada support increased engagement between Canada and Taiwan by encouraging visits by parliamentary delegations.

“That the Government of Canada strongly consider the benefits of diplomatic visits to Taiwan. That the Government of Canada engage with allies to further opportunities for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in multilateral organizations, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Health Organization.”

Rather than promoting Taiwanese separatism that could lead to war, isn’t it preferable to maintain the status quo? But US planners face a dilemma. With China’s economy growing rapidly time appears to be on Beijing’s side. Taiwan’s economic dependence on the mainland is growing and so is China’s regional influence. On the other hand, US economic power in east Asia has steadily declined. Increasingly, Washington’s influence is dependent on its troop deployments and military alliances. From Washington’s perspective, if there’s going to be war, the sooner the better.

In response to President Tsai meeting the leader of the US House of Representatives 10 days ago, the Chinese military encircled Taiwan to demonstrate its ability to blockade the island. Concurrently, the US military began its largest-everdrills with the Philippines, which take place six weeks after the US signed an agreement for four more Filipino military bases.

Last month two Canadian naval vessels were deployed to the region. In a rare move, they were deployed from the East Coast, which is part of growing the number of Canadian gunboats in the Asian region. According to the government’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canada will “augment its naval presence, including by increasing the number of frigates deployed on to the region where it will conduct forward naval presence operations.” In the strategy paper released four months ago, half a billion dollars is allocated to bolstering Canada’s military and spy network in the region.

The Special Committee on the Canada–People’s Republic of China Relationship wants the Canadian military to devote more energy to targeting China. Its Taiwan report demands, “That the Government of Canada make efforts to join the Quadrilateral [India, US, Japan and Australia] Security Dialogue and AUKUS [US, Australia and Britain] security pact in order to bolster Canada’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region to counter the People’s Republic of China’s threats to the region.”

In its own statements the NDP has also backed militarizing the region. During the 2021 federal election campaign party leader Jagmeet Singh said Canada should seek to join AUKUS, a nuclear-powered submarine initiative that’s designed to ramp up conflict with Beijing. Similarly,  in a statement headlined “Indo-Pacific Strategy is a step forward; New Democrats will hold government accountable”, the party applauded a plan to deploy more Canadian vessels to the region to “take steps to counterbalance China’s disruptive power.”

Alongside supporting a militarized containment policy, the NDP has called for sanctions on Chinese officials and jumped on the recent ‘China is interfering in Canadian politics’ bandwagon. They pushed for a diplomatic boycott of the February 2022 Beijing Olympics and Singh suggested Canadian athletes could be in danger if they participated. On two occasions NDP MPs voted to declare that China was committing genocide against Uyghurs and they pushed the Liberals to ban the world’s largest 5G network provider, Huawei, from building its cutting-edge broadband in Canada because it’s a Chinese firm.

McPherson is hawkish on China so she is unlikely to be embarrassed by Macron’s comments. Nor is she likely to be challenged by an increasingly Sinophobic media. The National Post recently published “Vassalizing the West. China wants to subjugate Canada and Trudeau isn’t stopping it” while the Globe and Mail ran an anonymous Op-ed by a spook on “Why I blew the whistle on Chinese interference in Canada’s elections”. The liberal end of the dominant media is only slightly less hawkish.

Recently The National did an eight-minute clip headlined “On Board a Canadian military surveillance plane”. The CBC’s David Common reported from a CP-140 Aurora aircraft training for a deployment to Japan where it will spend a few months mostly spying on China. With dramatic music, the story focused on the excitement of training to be intercepted by Chinese fighter jets and the aircraft’s intelligence gathering capacities. The clip basically ignored the geopolitical dangers of the deployment and how the US/Canada would react if Chinese spy planes flew near their air space.

In another indication of liberal media adopting the empire’s worldview, CBC journalist Evan Dyer attacked Macron for visiting China. In one of a series of disparaging tweets, the global affairs reporter claimed that “the whole trip had a weird vibe.” In another post about the French president’s visit, Dyer wrote “Macron’s ego and need to appear relevant again create havoc, as he tries to position France somewhere between the western democratic alliance and the China-Russia alliance, and succeeds mainly in empowering Xi Jinping and undermining democratic Taiwan.” But Macron’s stated position better reflects most of the world’s nations, including democratic ones, then Washington’s.

Rather than pushback against the media madness, the NDP has chosen to criticize the Liberals for being too soft on China. Amidst this media climate, McPherson is likely to continue promoting the US neocon line unless there is some pushback from below.

Two weeks ago, three of us attended a talk by Singh in Montreal. While one member of our group held a sign saying, “Stop the Sinophobic witch hunt”, I asked Singh why he hyped Chinese interference and called for Chinese-Canadian MP Han Dong to be removed from the Liberal party caucus based on a dubious CSIS leak.

More questions should be asked of Singh and McPherson. Is it too much to expect Canada’s social democratic party to follow the lead of the French president and at least question if it is in this country’s and humanity’s self-interest to push ever closer to war with China?

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