MP John McKay Urges Canada to Revamp China Policy, Impose Costs on CCP

By Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen
Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
July 17, 2023Updated: July 17, 2023

Liberal MP John McKay is urging Canada to revamp its engagement policies toward Beijing due to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persistent human rights abuses despite Western democracies’ previous overtures.

“China is on the way to becoming an existential threat to Canada and other like-minded nations that conduct their affairs by the rule of law and democratic norms. We need to ditch our current strategy because it is based on the hope that China might adhere to the rules,” Mr. McKay wrote in an op-ed published in the National Post on July 17.

He described the communist regime as a “bullyboy,” pointing to the numerous atrocities it has committed, including the forced organ harvesting and persecution of Falun Gong adherents, the enslavement of Uyghur Muslims, the abuse of Tibetans, and the destruction of Christians’ places of worship.

The regime also poses direct threats to foreign countries through its “wolf warrior” diplomacy, which is evident in the arbitrary arrest of Canadian citizens, he added. Other forms of threats from the CCP include the operation of secret police stations that are accused of intimidating diaspora communities in Canada, the deployment of spy balloons over North America and surveillance buoys in Arctic waters, intellectual property theft, and much more.

Mr. McKay noted that the regime’s persistent abuse of human rights flies in the face of what Western democracies had hoped for when they pursued engagement policies with Beijing, thinking that through trade and engagement with the regime, it would eventually abandon such behaviour.

“For decades now, Canada has pursued an engagement strategy with the Communist Party of China with the hope that ‘trade together, stay together’ and mutual economic interest would foster positive relations,” he wrote. “However, it is clear that, in spite of friendly overtures made by western nations, including Canada, China continues to pursue an aggressive, expansionist policy with little regard for the national interests or security of others.”

Epoch Times Photo
Liberal MP John McKay speaks to a reporter at the “Taiwan Night in Ottawa” event in Ottawa on May 10, 2023. (Annie Wu/NTD)

Imposing Costs

Mr. McKay said Canada’s current engagement policy toward China, built on “hope of financial reward,” is one of “vulnerability, high risk, and deep disappointment.” Instead, he said Canada should team up with like-minded countries to prevent future malign activities by imposing costs on the communist regime.

“A made-in-Canada policy on China is a fantasy exercise built on hubris. Canada’s only avenue is to join up with like-minded nations so that when, not if, flashpoints occur, costs will be imposed on the CCP,” he said.

“Regrettably, nations and people are going to have to pick sides, regardless of how unpalatable the choice might be. The golden glitter of access to the Chinese economy can turn into a dismal dross of disappointment in a flash. It’s amazing how many of us can convince ourselves that the risks are small when the anticipated financial payoff is big.”

He said one example of an ally Canada should be working in partnership with is Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy off the coast of mainland China that has been resisting Beijing’s threats and military coercion over the past decades. Mr. McKay recently led a parliamentary delegation to the island in April and discussed building stronger ties with the Taiwanese president. Despite the island being a top trading partner of Canada, Ottawa has maintained the “One China Policy” that conforms to Beijing’s demand to avoid officially recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

“How long can this policy last as the basis for dealing with Taiwan, our 12th largest trading partner? How long can a One China Policy last when Taiwan fights for itself and for Western democracies each and every day?” Mr. McKay said.

Additionally, he said Canada should oppose China’s participation in international agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, considering the regime’s record of bending treaties to serve its own political agenda.

“What foolishness it would be to allow a nation into an economic treaty arrangement whose sole goal would be to destroy the trade agreement. China’s repurposing of the WTO [World Trade Organization] toward its own ends should be enough evidence of that for anyone,” Mr. McKay said.

Decoupling

Mr. McKay, who is chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence, said many entities in Canada and Western countries are increasingly awakening to the reality that “there is nothing in it for us” to continue the engagement policy toward China.

He cited Bob Pickard, a Canadian who previously worked as a senior executive at the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Mr. Pickard recently stepped down from his position to protest the CCP’s influence; he told Reuters that he had to flee the country after resigning.

The AIIB is a multilateral development bank that was launched by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013. The bank was advertised to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia through the financing of key infrastructure, but is regarded as an attempt to rival global institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank led by the West. Canada became a member of the AIIB in 2017, allocating $256 million to purchase shares in the bank.

Epoch Times Photo
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing, on Jan. 16, 2023. (VCG via Getty Images)

In response to Mr. Pickard’s departure on June 14, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement the same day that the Department of Finance would cease all activity with the AIIB and launch a review of Mr. Pickard’s allegations.

“However, as the world’s democracies work to de-risk our economies by limiting our strategic vulnerabilities to authoritarian regimes, we must likewise be clear about the means through which these regimes exercise their influence around the world,” the statement said.

Mr. McKay applauded Ms. Freeland’s reaction, noting that a new Canadian policy toward Beijing needs to highlight the security prices that the United States, Europe, and many other countries have paid in embracing a “peer-to-peer relationship with China.”

“What is required is a fundamental shift in attitude and a refocusing on our national interests and security in the face of a growing superpower that has shown continued hostility to our nation and our allies,” he wrote.

“Hope is not a policy.”