Canada launches strategy for Indo-Pacific, disputed area between China and US


Canada on Sunday released guidelines for its Indo-Pacific strategy, pledging to direct more resources toward dealing with China and working on military, security and trade issues with the 40-nation region.

In the 26-page document, the country details expenditures of US$ 1.9 billion (about R$ 10 billion), which include reinforcements in the military presence and cybersecurity in the region and the tightening of foreign investment rules to protect the intellectual property and prevent Chinese companies from acquiring mineral supplies.

The plan envisions deepening ties with a rapidly growing region of 40 countries. But the focus is on China, mentioned more than 50 times, at a cold moment in the relationship between the two countries.

“China is seeking to shape the international order into a more permissive environment for interests and values ​​that are increasingly moving away from our own,” the document says.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government wants to diversify commercial and economic ties that are now deeply tied to the United States. Official September data show that bilateral trade with China accounted for less than 7% of the total, compared with 68% for the United States.

The Canadian strategy punctuated Beijing’s “foreign interference and increasingly coercive treatment of other countries”. “Our approach is shaped by a realistic assessment of China today. In areas of deep disagreement, we will challenge China,” the document says.

Tensions rose in late 2018 after Canadian police detained a Huawei executive, followed by Beijing arresting two Canadians on espionage charges. All were released last year, but relations remain sensitive.

Earlier this month, Canada ordered three Chinese companies to abandon their investments in Canadian critical minerals, citing national security as an argument.

In a section that mentions China, the document says Ottawa would review and update legislation so it can act “decisively when investments by foreign companies and other entities threaten national security, including our supply chains for critical minerals.”

The new directive recognizes significant opportunities for Canadian exporters and says cooperation with Beijing is necessary to address some of the “global pressures”, including climate change, global health and nuclear proliferation.

The document states that Canada will increase its naval presence in the Indo-Pacific region and “increase military engagement and intelligence capability as a means of mitigating coercive behavior and threats to regional security.”

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