Canada to boost defence, cyber security in Indo-Pacific policy, focus on ‘disruptive’ China

OTTAWA, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Canada launched its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy on Sunday, spending C$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) to bolster military and cyber security in the region and vowing to deal with “disruptive” China. gave. while working with him on climate change and trade issues.

The plan, detailed in a 26-page document, says Canada will tighten foreign investment rules to protect intellectual property and prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from exploiting critical mineral resources.

Canada is seeking to deepen ties with the fast-growing Indo-Pacific region of 40 countries. But the focus is on China, whose name is mentioned more than 50 times at a time when bilateral relations are frosty.

At a press conference in Vancouver, four cabinet ministers took turns detailing the new plan, saying the strategy is critical to Canada’s national security and climate as well as economic goals.

“We will engage in diplomacy because we believe that diplomacy is power, but we will also be firm and so we now have a very transparent plan to engage with China,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government wants to diversify trade and economic ties, which are largely dependent on the United States. Official data for September show that bilateral trade with China is less than 7% of total trade, compared to 68% with the US.

Canada’s engagement with its Asian allies also comes as Washington has shown signs of increasing focus on free trade in recent years.

The document highlighted Canada’s dilemma in building relations with China, which offers significant opportunities for Canadian exporters at a time when Beijing wants to transform the international order into a more “permissive environment for interests and values ​​that are increasingly distant from our own.”


However, the document said cooperation with the world’s second-largest economy was necessary to address some of the world’s “current pressures,” including climate change, global health and nuclear proliferation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits members of Canadian troops at the Adazi military base following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Latvia, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

“China is an increasingly disruptive global power,” the strategy says. “Our approach … is shaped by a realistic and clear-eyed assessment of today’s China. We will challenge China in areas of deep disagreement.”

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Tensions with China rose in late 2018 after Canadian police detained the head of Huawei Technologies and Beijing later arrested two Canadians on espionage charges. Although all three were released last year, relations remain strained.

Canada earlier this month ordered three Chinese companies to divest from investments in critical Canadian minerals, citing national security.

Ottawa will “review and update legislation that allows us to act decisively when investments from state-owned enterprises and other foreign entities threaten our national security, including the supply chains of critical minerals,” the document, which refers to China, said in a statement on China.

“The region is both large and diverse, one size does not necessarily fit all,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty said in a statement, adding that Canada’s priorities must be highly nuanced both across and within countries.

Canada will strengthen its naval presence in the region and “increase our military presence and intelligence capabilities as a means of reducing coercive behavior and threats to regional security,” the document says.

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Defense Minister Anita Anand said at a separate press conference that this includes the annual deployment of three frigates, two of which are currently in the region, as well as the participation of Canadian airmen and soldiers in regional military exercises.

Canada is among the Group of Seven major industrialized nations that want to take significant action in response to North Korea’s missile launches.

The document states that Ottawa is engaged with partners in the region such as the United States and the European Union.

Canada said it should continue to talk to nations with deep differences, but did not name them.

($1 = 1.3377 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Edited by Danny Thomas, Leslie Adler, Daniel Wallis, and Mark Porter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

David Ljungren

Thomson Reuters

Covers Canadian political, economic and general news, as well as breaking news in North America, formerly based in London and Moscow and a Reuters Treasury of the Year winner.


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