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Justin Trudeau suggests China is ‘playing’ Western nations and trying to pit them against each other

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

ANDREJ IVANOV/Getty

  • Trudeau said China is using “coercive diplomacy” and “playing” Western nations against each other.
  • He said China has been taking advantage of “competition among friends” for its rising middle class.
  • The West should put up a more united front so that China “can’t play the angles and divide us,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said China has been “cleverly playing” Western nations as they compete economically and trying to divide them against each other.

“One of the challenges that we’ve had as a western world is that we compete with each other,” he told Canada’s Global News in an interview published on Saturday. “We’re trying to see how can we get better access for Canadian beef than Australian beef to this country or that market.”

“There’s been a bit of competition amongst friends, because we’re capitalist democracies, on trying to do well. Especially given the extraordinary economic opportunity of the rising Chinese middle class,” he said.

“So how do we access that? Well, we’ve been competing. And China has been, from time to time, very cleverly playing us off each other in an open-market, competitive way,” he said, without specifying any actions from China that prompted his remarks.

He also urged countries in the West to put up a more united front in response.

“We need to do a better job of working together and standing strong so that China can’t play the angles and divide us one against the other,” he said.

Canada’s relationship with China has been frosty ever since the 2018 detention of the Huawei chief financial officer and eldest daughter of its billionaire founder, Meng Wanzhou, over accusations of violating US trade sanctions with Iran.

In retaliation for her arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens on national-security charges for nearly three years. Even before Meng’s arrest, both nations had repeatedly fallen out over China’s human-rights record.

More recently, Canada and some of its allies, including the US and UK, announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, citing the nation’s human-rights record.

“Quite frankly, on the issue of arbitrary detentions where we saw dozens upon dozens of countries signing on to this in a very real way declaring that no, coercive diplomacy is not all right,” Trudeau said. “Those kinds of initiatives do make a difference.”

China dismissed the slew of boycotts earlier this month, saying they don’t matter because the officials behind the calls for a boycott were never invited in the first place.

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