At a time when the anti-China sentiment dominates public opinion, individual leaders are finding it more and more difficult to deflect the pressure to take a stance against the Communist regime of China. Taking an anti-China stance has become more of a compulsion than a matter of internal policy. In Canada, for instance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has caved into growing public opinion against China.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Trudeau has been facing intense criticism for his weak line on China. The opposition- Conservative Party has made a big issue out of Trudeau’s failed China policy, which has led to Canada’s Prime Minister taking rare swipes at Beijing and mostly backing US President Trump on the China front. But while he remains pro-Trump regarding China, Trudeau is anti-Trump in local politics leading to a ridiculous monkey-balancing act. This is cringeworthy for those who see through it, but very strategic of the Canadian leader as well.
In fact, facing backlash over going too soft on China, Trudeau seems to have finally grown a spine especially on the issue of Huawei’s 5G technology that is a major flashpoint between Beijing and Ottawa.
Recently, a Canadian court dismissed Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s application for “double criminality” and now her extradition looks certain. This is an emotive issue in China with Huawei CFO being Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s daughter.
When China objected to the judicial ruling, Trudeau took a rare swipe at Beijing and said, “Canada has an independent judicial system that functions without interference or override by politicians.”
He added, “China doesn’t work quite the same way and (doesn’t) seem to understand that we do have an independent judiciary from political intervention.”
Initially, Trudeau was defending his position of not taking a tough line on China but now it has become a matter of compulsion for him and he believes its better to be on the good books of the US than to continue a meek stance against China.
Hence, Canadian policy is becoming increasingly anti-China. Canada has shut its doors on Huawei in the 5G technology sector as two Canadian telecom carriers – BCE Inc, the parent company of Bell, and Telus Corp have now decided to use equipment from Nokia and Ericsson to build out their next-generation 5G networks in Canada. This means that Canada has effectively shown China the door, along with its co-opted 5G technology provider.
In the present geopolitical circumstances, opposing China is tantamount to being pro-Trump, and willingly or unwillingly Trudeau feels compelled to be pro-Trump in his China policy.
But this does not mean that Trudeau has become entirely pro-Trump. The fact remains that Trudeau cannot afford to ignore Trump because of the long-standing ties with the neighbour next door, but ideologically he is at loggerheads with Trump.
Trudeau is an icon of the left. He is the leader of the “peoplekind” as he himself puts it.
Therefore, within Canada Trudeau engages in theatrics and drama to take swipes at the US President. Recently, when asked about Trump’s handling of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Trudeau remained silent for a staggering 21 seconds in a show of deep emotion, before muttering a rhetorical answer.
Canadian Prime Minister has been taking subtle jibes at the US President and even joined an anti-racism rally on Friday where he took a knee alongside other protesters. He is using such gestures aimed against Trump to appease his voter base within Canada. Reportedly, fellow protesters also chanted, “Stand up to Trump!” while Trudeau listened. But Trudeau has another reason to keep up with these anti-racism protests- The “blackface” Trudeau. The costume party-look gone too far has not missed the eye of the world, and this is why Trudeau needs to compensate for this blunder in every way possible.
And we see right through it. Trudeau’s monkey balancing is ridiculous but it seems to be working. He is very strategically aligning with the United States and Donald Trump on the China front but at a local level, he continues to fuel the anti-Trump sentiment. This is strategic posturing on Trudeau’s part as he doesn’t want to take the backlash of going too soft on China, yet he wants to retain the “peoplekind” voter base in Canada.