While the United States was wrapping up Inauguration Week festivities, our neighbor to the north was wrapping up its own celebration of sorts. Canadian officials just completed a visit to Shanghai to sign new economic cooperation accords. This rightly was trumpeted in the media of both countries as historic, unprecedented, and a diplomatic coup of sorts, demonstrating the strengthening Chinese position in America's backyard.
Canada's interest in this, as represented by Canadian official James Peterson on the English language version of CCTV's BizChina program, is rooted in economic utilitarianism. Peterson decried at some length his nation's “minimal representation” in the country and chided stay-at-home Canadians for ignoring the “exploding market” in China. Perhaps more importantly, he asserts Canada's place on the world stage in a paradoxical manner – declaiming that Canada is a “world leader” while saying that Canada's considerable natural resources are for sale to the highest bidder; hemispheric interests be damned.
China's interests in working more closely with Canada are obvious. In addition to forging commercial ties and creating a co-prosperity sphere with Canada, China seeks Canadian support for the “One China” policy. This is one condition of doing business with Beijing, and the available evidence suggests that Canada has washed its hands of the Taiwanese democracy.
The Canadian media are bullish on Sino-Canadian cooperation. David Crane’s recent column in the Toronto Star provides a typical example:
Our preoccupation – in our think-tanks and business organizations – with the United States has meant we have neglected serious relationships with future superpowers such as China and India...as shown, for example, by our designation of China as simply another emerging market rather than a proud civilization that predates Canada by more than 3,000 years.
Later in the column, he writes, “Canada has made the mistake of taking Chinese goodwill for granted, which has meant we have been slow to give China the attention it needs.” Translation: Canada needs to curry favor with Beijing on Beijing's terms. The United States? To Crane, simply a casualty of “fundamental change in the global political and economic order with far-reaching implications.”
Not to be outdone, Canadian PM Paul Martin had this to say to the Canada-China Business Council Dinner: “From British Columbia, Canada, is the ideal gateway from China to North America, and from North America to China...And thanks to 15 years of free trade, and a decade of NAFTA, Canada can provide assured access to a continent that is largely barrier-free.”
Martin sells “access to the continent” like an carnival barker, then he trashes the Bush doctrine in pledging allegiance to some opaque globalist code:
“The United Nations is doing a good job of helping to co-ordinate relief efforts and manage the international response to the tsunamis. What we need to do now is to ensure that it can act as effectively and as promptly in a wider range of human interaction, such as in countries where the traditional definition of sovereignty is preventing the world from intervening to help embattled peoples in failed or failing states.”
Who knows what the “traditional definition of sovereignty” is? But to Americans paying attention, it's hard not to ask some questions:
At what point is there too much Chinese “economic interest” in our sphere of influence? How much Chinese political agitation, of the sort we've seen in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America, can we tolerate before drawing an inviolable line of demarcation?
The price for Chinese “economic stimulus” has become too clear – and hit too close to home. Consider the following:
- US regulators could nix the recent, curiously underreported $1.25 billion sale of IBM's PC division to China's Lenovo on national security grounds. Bloomberg News reported Sunday that the deal might be held up by U.S. regulators over national security concerns relating to an IBM facility in North Carolina. According to the report, which cited unidentified sources, members of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States expressed concerns that China might use the North Carolina plant to engage in industrial espionage, using information gained for military purposes. These fears are well founded, and precedent exists for action: U.S. regulators have blocked deals by Chinese companies over espionage and national security concerns twice in recent history. In 2003, they stopped a bid by the Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa to buy telecommunications company Global Crossing. In 1999, a $450 million satellite sale to a Chinese-led consortium was nixed for similar reasons.
- Nine Asian firms, seven of them under direct Chinese control, have been barred from doing business with the United States, reports Channel News Asia. A State Department notice from the latest Federal Register cited nine “conglomerates” for transferring to Iran “equipment and technology controlled under multilateral export control lists.” The companies cited include Beijing Alite Technologies Limited, China Aero-Technology Import Export Corporation, China Great Wall Industry Corporation, China North Industry Corporation (Norinco), Q.C. Chen, Wha Cheong Tai Company, and Zibo Chemet Equipment Corporation. The majority of these companies have ties either to the People's Liberation Army, the North Korean government, or some other force overtly malign to national interests.
U.S. and Canadian firms, seeking profits in an uncertain time, seem blissfully ignorant of the national security implications of doing business with America's most dangerous strategic competitor. To its credit, the Bush Administration is taking measures to stem the tide of Chinese interest. But it's hard not to wonder if enough is being done.