- By Charlie Mitchell
Election candidates in Canada are being ranked according to their stance on China as sentiment in the country hardens in the aftermath of the crackdown in Hong Kong and a diplomatic spat between the two nations.
A campaign group in British Columbia (BC) is claiming to “out” candidates in provincial elections who it says lean towards Beijing, demanding that they “take a stand” against the Chinese Communist Party. The “No BC for Xi” group has demanded that all candidates say whether they would decline any gifts from China and reject President Xi’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. It is publishing their responses and advising voters accordingly.
The crackdown in Hong Kong has been especially unpopular in British Columbia, which hosts Canada’s biggest Chinese diaspora. Vancouver, the province’s main city, is at the centre of a row between the two nations over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive, on an American warrant in 2018.
- Amos Aikman
Ms Meng, 48, is fighting extradition to the US, where she faces charges of fraud, and is under house arrest in one of her Vancouver properties.
Justin Trudeau, 48, the prime minister, marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Canada and China on Wednesday by condemning Beijing’s “coercive diplomacy”. He cited “arbitrary” arrests, the detention of Uighur Muslims and the Hong Kong crackdown. He said that Beijing was not on “a particularly productive path”, prompting a complaint by China.
Mr Trudeau has until now appeared reluctant to publicly condemn Beijing, pursuing close ties in the early years of his premiership. However, Canada granted asylum to two Hong Kong pro-democracy activists last week and walked away from free-trade talks with Beijing. Lynette Ong, a China expert at the University of Toronto, said: “It’s a big step forward, saying that China now is different from China four years ago, and this is not the time to pursue any free-trade agreement.”