China’s belligerence and the brutal crackdown on Hong Kongers has blurred the line between the Western Conservative and Liberal thought. At least on the issue of punishing China, even the most liberal countries on the face of the earth- New Zealand, Canada, France and Sweden are on the same page as the Conservative parts of the world.
The latest to join the ongoing crusade against China is New Zealand, led by the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern, who represents the New Zealand Labour Party. The Labour Party, of course, represents Centre-left ideology in the country that is often at odds with the Western right-wing ideology. However, Ardern has now announced some strict measures against Beijing.
In a bold move, New Zealand has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong as a sign of protest against a “deeply concerning” National Security Law that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has brutally enforced on the former British colony.
New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said, “New Zealand can no longer trust that Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is sufficiently independent from China.” Peters added, “If China in future shows adherence to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework then we could reconsider this decision.”
Beijing has, of course, reacted in an uncouth manner. Speaking through CCP mouthpiece Global Times, the Chinese Foreign Ministry described New Zealand as a chess piece playing a “little trick” with its decision to suspend the Hong Kong extradition treaty.
What the Middle Kingdom doesn’t want to admit is that far too many countries are playing such ‘little tricks’.
Australia, another country known for dominance of liberal thought, has also sought to punish China for its misadventures. Led by its Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Canberra has risked it all by demanding an international probe into the Chinese virus Pandemic, batting for Taiwan, ganging up with the American Navy in the South China Sea and also opening its doors for Hong Kongers as well as suspending its extradition treaty with the semi-autonomous region.
The liberal countries in the Oceania- New Zealand and Australia are not alone when it comes to punishing China. Some of the liberal players within the European Union have also gone up in arms against China, notwithstanding EU’s general bias towards Beijing.
Take France for instance, which is led by President Emmanuel Macron who comes from a Centrist, liberal party, La République En Marche! France was one of the early victims of Chinese belligerence when Beijing’s wolf-warriors openly meddled in the internal matters of Paris. An unnamed Chinese diplomat had accused workers at nursing homes in France of “abandoning their posts overnight … and leaving their residents to die of hunger and disease”, as a part of Beijing’s campaign to eulogise its own efforts in combating Coronavirus and discrediting the West. The hit job was published on the Chinese embassy website itself.
Sino-French relations have gone south ever since. For starters, the Chinese ambassador was summoned by the French Foreign Ministry and later France decided to sell arms to Taiwan. When Beijing objected, Paris asked China to focus on the Pandemic instead.
Moreover, when the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation got engaged in a stand-off resulting in the Galwan valley bloodbath, France expedited the delivery of Rafale fighter jets to India and the French Defence Minister said, “This was a hard blow against the soldiers, their families and the nation. In these difficult circumstances, I wish to express my steadfast and friendly support, along with that of the French armed forces. I request you to kindly convey my heartfelt condolences to the entire Indian armed forces as well as to the grieving families.”
Meanwhile, Sweden too has stood upto Chinese aggression. Sweden is the liberal face within the EU, yet it is locking horns with China like no other country. Involved in a diplomatic tussle with China, it has shut Beijing-funded Confucius institutes and is now also pushing the European Union to consider countermeasures against China over the enforcement of the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong.
If we go further West, Canada has reacted angrily to Chinese belligerence. This is all the more important because Canada is led by PM Justin Trudeau who is as liberal as it gets. Trudeau is diametrically opposed to Trump in ideological thinking, and Trump haters within the US or in Canada go head over heels for Trudeau. When Trump was about to win the Presidential polls in the US, Trump-haters in the US were saying they would move to Canada. Trudeau himself has interacted with such elements in the past
Yet, Canada has cooperated with the neighbour next door- the US to punish China. After Canada arrested the Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request, China abducted two Canadians- Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman. Trudeau now regularly slams China for such arbitrary detentions. He has also made it clear that Canada won’t allow a prisoner exchange.
Trudeau wants to take on China even if it means a rapprochement of sorts with Trump. Trudeau is being further pushed by the Conservatives to punish China. In May, when a Conservative MP Ed Fast accused the Trudeau government of not thanking Taiwan for their delivery of half a million surgical masks to Canada, free of cost, the Canadian PM had to thank Taiwan himself.
China has been bullying the entire world and this is why Conservatives and Liberals suddenly find themselves on the same page. An anti-China crusade which was started by leaders like Trump and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now also found some unexpected, liberal allies.