Evidence of meeting #20 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chinese.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Kerry Brown  Professor of Chinese Studies, King's College London, and Director, Lau China Institute, As an Individual
Steve Tsang  Professor, SOAS University of London, As an Individual
Kelly McCauley  Edmonton West, CPC
André Laliberté  Full Professor, School of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Research Chair in Taiwan Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual
Joseph Wong  Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual
Tracy Gray  Kelowna—Lake Country, CPC
Jenna Sudds  Kanata—Carleton, Lib.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Thank you for that.

In my remaining time, I have just one other question. The Canadian government promised an Indo-Pacific strategy over a year ago. If you were in a position where you could give advice to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, what do you think that policy should say with respect to the position on Taiwan?

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sven Spengemann

Give just a brief answer, please, in the interest of time.

5:50 p.m.

Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Dr. Joseph Wong

Sure.

I think Canada should be unequivocally supportive of Taiwan. At the same time, I think Canada should not look to isolate China. There is a possibility to be able to entertain both. I think isolating China will not result in a positive outcome.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Thank you very much.

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sven Spengemann

Thank you very much, Mr. Morantz, and thank you to our witness.

We will now go to Mrs. Sudds, please, for three minutes.

5:50 p.m.

Jenna Sudds Kanata—Carleton, Lib.

Excellent. Thank you very much, Chair.

Thank you to all of the witnesses.

My first question is for you, Professor Wong. China's diplomatic pressure has been reinforced by the World Health Organization. Under pressure from China, the WHO has excluded Taiwan from COVID-19 information-sharing forums. In response, and as a general practice, I think it's fair to say that Canada has consistently supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in global discussions where there is a practical imperative and where Taiwan's absence would be detrimental to global interests.

I'm wondering if you can comment on the role that Canada has played to support Taiwan in this regard, maybe specifically with respect to the WHO or perhaps other international organizations.

5:50 p.m.

Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Dr. Joseph Wong

I think it's absolutely ridiculous that Taiwan has continually been excluded from discussions around the WHO table. If we've learned anything from SARS, it's that despite all of the disadvantages Taiwan had to suffer in 2003, they somehow managed to weather that storm and indeed to have been able to implement lessons that we here in Canada only wish we had done in the wake of SARS ourselves to be better prepared for the pandemic this time around, as Professor Laliberté has already said.

I think the point here is to simply say, with regard to Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly and other like bodies, that this is not a political issue. This is an issue of global public health. This is an issue of collective interest for all of us, including China. I think changing that narrative and being steadfast in our commitment to a collective security, be it health security, be it cybersecurity or so forth, is a functional imperative that should trump any sort of political discussion, as far as I'm concerned.

5:55 p.m.

Kanata—Carleton, Lib.

Jenna Sudds

Fantastic. I agree.

I think I have enough time for a quick question for Professor Laliberté. It's around economic ties. The economic ties between Taiwan and China have certainly deepened, in particular over the last two decades. I think both countries have seen rapid economic growth.

Has this mutual economic prosperity served to defuse regional tensions or has it exacerbated them?

5:55 p.m.

Full Professor, School of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Research Chair in Taiwan Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

André Laliberté

Unfortunately, sometimes it's also contributing to each side knowing each other better. There was some disenchantment from many Taiwanese businessmen in China, who did not always have positive experiences. It's not necessarily the case that trade between the two sides has improved relations between them. Of course, the intent was there.

From the Chinese side, it was also seen as an inducement to convince the Taiwanese to move closer to China. Also, many Taiwanese businesses saw there was a risk of deterioration of their economic position if they became integrated too closely with China. One instigation of the Sunflower Movement was precisely because the previous president Ma Ying-jeou wanted to move Taiwan closer to China. The young entrepreneurs in Taiwan were really worried about that.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sven Spengemann

Thank you very much, Professor Laliberté and Ms. Sudds.

I'd also like to thank the witnesses.

Mr. Bergeron, you have the floor for a minute and a half.

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Professor Wong, when we spoke with the previous panel, Professor Tsang put forward the idea that Taiwan was simply a geographic barrier to China's expansionist aspirations in the Pacific.

Do you feel it's possible to agree on an arrangement for the territorial waters between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China to get around this problem?

5:55 p.m.

Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Dr. Joseph Wong

That's going to be very difficult for a whole host of reasons. The claims that China's making over the South China Sea have obviously been ruled unlawful and not in compliance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The challenge, too, is that the PRC's claims to the South China Sea and its maritime boundaries are based on the same claims that the ROC government makes. The map of the nine-dash line that the PRC is using today to make its historic claims are, in fact, on the map that was drawn by the ROC government prior to the formation of the People's Republic of China. That itself makes it a very difficult situation to reconcile.

On one hand, to respect that line would be to contravene the UN convention. At the same time, as China continues to push that line, it also actually de facto recognizes the Republic of China, which puts the PRC government in a very difficult position.

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sven Spengemann

Thank you very much, Mr. Bergeron and Professor Wong.

We'll go to Ms. McPherson, please, for one and a half minutes.

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Dr. Wong, you talked about the prospect of violence increasing and being more dire.

For my last minute and a half, could you give me your sense of where Canada's at, perhaps in terms of a grade? In your opinion, how are we doing so far?

5:55 p.m.

Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Dr. Joseph Wong

In terms of...?

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

I mean in terms of our relationship and our acknowledgement of Taiwan. How are we doing with our participation and working with our allies on the ground?

5:55 p.m.

Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Dr. Joseph Wong

In Taiwan, I think the CTOT has done an extraordinary job. Given the constraints within the international space, I think the Canadian trade office in Taipei has done an extraordinary job of establishing these kinds of linkages within civil society, working relentlessly in terms of bringing businesses and industry together, Canadian companies, technology, shared R and D, and so forth. I think that in those kinds of informal spheres, Canada has done an extraordinary job.

At the same time, to date or until very recently, it did not terribly antagonize the PRC, which still allowed us the opportunity to think about those strategic inducements that might help soften the regime in the PRC. More recently, as the PRC has become strident in its own views, it's again closing up that space. We need to be ever more clever and innovative in how we engage with Taiwan.

6 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Thank you, Dr. Wong.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sven Spengemann

Thank you very much, Ms. McPherson.

We will now go over to Mr. Morantz, or Ms. Gray or Mr. McCauley.

Mr. Morantz, do you want to lead off? You can always split it, if you'd like.

6 p.m.

Edmonton West, CPC

Kelly McCauley

I can go ahead.

May 12th, 2022 / 6 p.m.

Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

That's okay.

There was some discussion earlier, and the consensus of opinion seems to be that Taiwan is under no imminent threat. I'm wondering a couple of things. One is, under President Xi, has the threat level gone up? That's one thing I'm wondering about.

There seems to be an awful lot going on in the region. China always seems to be doing something provocative. There was the discussion earlier of the 18 warplanes sent into the air defence identification zone. Taiwan responded and scrambled their own aircraft. In April, it was reported that China entered into a security agreement with the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands cut ties with Taipei back in 2019 in favour of Beijing. There's the so-called pact that Mr. Putin and President Xi entered into, where they endorsed each other's territorial ambitions.

It seems to me that there's a lot going on there to render an opinion that they're not under any immediate threat. I'm wondering if you could square that circle for me.

6 p.m.

Full Professor, School of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Research Chair in Taiwan Studies, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

André Laliberté

I don't necessarily share my colleague's optimism. I think that Xi Jinping has shortened the calendar of when he wants to arrive at a solution, in his view, about unification or annexation. The question is what methods he will use.

One of the reasons for the optimism is that traditional or conventional intervention across the strait will be extremely difficult, and there is a lot of thinking going on among people who study security that China is already exploring different approaches, including asymmetric warfare, grey zone ways of attacking Taiwan and embargoes. There are so many different ways in which they would possibly force a decision.

Your question is to what extent there's a higher degree of hostility than before. Xi Jinping has been very clear about his intent. The question—and, frankly, I cannot answer it—is to what extent it's going to be credible. Does the PLA have the capacity to really prevail?

6 p.m.

Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Professor Wong, do you want to jump in on that?

6 p.m.

Roz and Ralph Halbert Professor of Innovation, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Dr. Joseph Wong

I'll make two comments. The first is that I am more worried for Taiwan than ever before. The second is that, under Xi Jinping, I don't think there is any room or any prospect for the PRC to make a concession on Taiwan. Hence, I think about ways in which political reform may become more palatable in China.

Under the current regime, I cannot see Xi making any meaningful concessions on Taiwan.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sven Spengemann

Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Morantz.

We're now heading into the final round of questions.

Ms. Bendayan, you have the floor for three minutes.