That, given that the House recognize that
(i) Canadians of Chinese descent have made immeasurable contributions to Canada,
(ii) the people of China are part of an ancient civilization that has contributed much to humanity,
(iii) the distinction between the people of China and the Chinese state, as embodied by the Communist Party of China and the government of the People's Republic of China,
(iv) authoritarian states, including the People's Republic of China, increasingly pose a threat to the rules-based international order,
the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-People's Republic of China relationship, including but not limited to diplomatic, consular, legal, security and economic relations, provided that:
(a) the committee be composed of 12 members, of which six shall be from the government party, four shall be from the official opposition, one shall be from the Bloc Québécois and one shall be from the New Democratic Party;
(b) the whips of the recognized parties shall deposit with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee within four calendar days of the adoption of this motion;
(c) changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;
(d) membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2);
(e) the Clerk of the House shall convene an organizational meeting within one week of the presentation of the final report of the Special Committee on Afghanistan;
(f) the chair of the committee shall be a member of the government party, the first vice-chair shall be a member of the official opposition, the second vice-chair shall be a member of the Bloc Québécois and the third vice-chair shall be a member of the New Democratic Party;
(g) the quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118, provided that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have that evidence printed when at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government;
(h) the committee have all of the powers of a standing committee, as well as the power to (i) travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada, (ii) authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings;
(i) the provisions of Standing Order 106(4) shall extend to the committee;
(j) the committee shall, notwithstanding paragraph (r) of the special order adopted on Thursday, November 25, 2021, have the first priority for the use of House resources for committee meetings;
(k) the evidence and documentation received by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations during the first and second sessions of the 43rd Parliament be referred to this committee and taken into consideration in this session; and
(l) any proceedings before the committee, when hybrid committee meetings are authorized, in relation to a motion to exercise the committee's power to send for persons, papers and records shall, if not previously disposed of, be interrupted upon the earlier of the completion of four hours of consideration or one sitting week after the motion was first moved, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the motion shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
In the last Parliament, the 43rd Parliament, the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations played a constructive role in furthering Canada's policy on the People's Republic of China. The committee met 30 times and issued three reports to the House. We heard from dozens, if not hundreds, of witnesses.
We focused on espionage, foreign interference and intimidation operations here on Canadian soil. We focused on Hong Kong. We focused on the genocide of the Uighurs. The committee also focused on the plight of the two Canadians who were wrongfully detained: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Arguably, it was the focus on the two Michaels, as they became known in this country, that put pressure on the People's Republic of China and others involved with this issue to release them last year. The committee played a constructive role in furthering Canada's policies in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly on China.
Much more needs to be done. Much more study and analysis needs to be done, because the relationship between Canada and China is broad and multi-faceted and touches on so many areas of Canadian life: diplomatic, economic, military, security, academia and many others. China is one of the world's superpowers and we need to be mindful of the impact that the People's Republic of China has on the day-to-day lives of Canadians. I can think of no better place to do that than in a special committee of Parliament, where we can call experts, where we can listen to testimony and where we can explore the multi-faceted relationship that we have with the People's Republic of China.
Up to this point, it has not been possible to establish a special committee. In the last Parliament, the 43rd Parliament, two additional committees were added to the House of Commons. Those two committees were the special committee on Canada-China relations and the special committee on Canada-U.S. relations. Because of the pandemic and because of hybrid sittings, House administration resources were taxed to their limit with the addition of those two committees.
That has been the case in the 44th Parliament up to this point. We have had two additional committees added to this Parliament. We have the new Standing Committee on Science and Research and the Special Committee on Afghanistan. The addition of these two committees in this 44th Parliament has taxed the House's resources to the limit. All members of the House realize and understand this, because not a week goes by that we do not have trouble booking additional meetings or additional time for committees because of the constraints regarding staff and information technology.
However, on June 8, that will change. The order of the House that established the Special Committee on Afghanistan orders this committee to be wound up and to report back to the House, so we will have only one additional committee added to the House in this 44th Parliament, that being the permanent Standing Committee on Science and Research. We have an opportunity to resurrect the Canada-China committee, which we believe is a very important thing to do.
There are so many more things we have yet to study. We did not complete our study of national security issues concerning the relationship between Canada and the People's Republic of China. We have not even begun to tackle the issue of the People's Republic of China's belt and road initiative.
Since the last election, new information has come to light that needs urgent study and analysis, which is the foreign interference and disinformation on the part of the People's Republic of China that we saw in the last election. Professor Fung, who is a McGill University professor and a Canada research chair, and Ms. Lee, a researcher at McGill University, both published a piece in Policy Options recently, in which they concluded that proxies acting on behalf of the leadership in Beijing spread disinformation in the last election campaign that led or contributed to the defeat of a number of colleagues in this House. This is an urgent issue that requires study and analysis. It is an issue that we cannot let slip from the radar screen of public consciousness.
Democratic institutions, both here and abroad, are under immense pressure and threat, from both internal and external forces. We need to ensure the integrity of these institutions, whether it is our electoral process or Parliament in between elections. The research that these two McGill University researchers conducted after the election, which found that there was disinformation spread on social media platforms by proxies acting on behalf of Beijing, is something that is critical and requires urgent attention. I believe the Canada-China committee would be a very good place for that to be studied and analyzed.
We also have a need, because China is a superpower and because it is so integrated into the global economy, to study how we can engage with it on issues such as supply chains and natural resources, and how we should be approaching it on the issues of rare earths, critical minerals and climate change. All of these things need to be studied and focused on. A new special committee on Canada-China relations would be the perfect place to do exactly that.
I think the committee could play a constructive role in assisting the government. Clearly, the government has struggled with establishing a policy on China. The promised to come forward with a new framework on China by the end of 2020. That never happened. The came forward with an approach that was summed up by the three Cs: co-operate, compete and challenge. However, that same minister, shortly after the last election, in 2021, changed that policy to the four Cs and added the fourth C of “co-exist” to the policy. The current , the fifth in just over six years, has now been tasked with coming forward with a new Indo-Pacific strategy, which we have yet to see. Clearly, the government is struggling to come forward with a written, clearly defined policy on China and the Indo-Pacific region. That is where I think the committee could be of great assistance to the government.
Let me conclude by saying this. The most important reason for the establishment of this special committee on Canada-China relations is February 24, a day that shocked the democratic world. For the first time since 1945, two states in Europe were at war. Russia attacked a democracy, upending the international order that has ensured peace and stability for some eight decades. We have to be mindful that what is happening in eastern Europe today could also happen in the Indo-Pacific region. That is why we need to focus on all aspects of the Canada-China relationship, to ensure that we are prepared for any eventualities that may take place.
Madam Speaker, Canadians of Chinese descent are great contributors to Canada and are part of an ancient heritage and civilization that has contributed much to humanity. I have a thriving Chinese Canadian community at home, which has been very kind to me over the years.
As the shadow defence minister, it is my job to critique the government's defence policy and posture, with the goal of making national security more sound and stronger. This is very close to my heart as the former associate minister of national defence.
When I look at China as a strategic player on the global stage, I can visualize its progress over time from what westerners considered a backward, developing state to now a great power, a superpower on the rise. It is a non-status quo power, in that it has an interest in carving out a sphere of influence for itself, not just in the Indo-Pacific but also around the globe. In so doing, it brings itself into conflict with other great powers, like the United States. It is time for the Canadian government to take seriously the threats that the Beijing communist leadership poses to Canada's national interests and security, as well as our values.
On July 24, 2019, China published its first defence white paper in four years, “China's National Defence in the New Era”. The document outlines the strategic guidance for the People's Liberation Army. The white paper commences with a review of how China sees the global security environment. In China's view, there has been a redistribution of power in the international system, in that there is no one superpower anymore and this has led to a multipolar system. This trend toward multipolarity and the decline of the world's only superpower, the United States, has led to greater instability and strategic competition. The world is no longer “a tranquil place”.
Beijing views the United States as the biggest threat to international stability and security. The white paper warns about American “growing hegemonism, power politics, unilateralism”, but the document does not stop at examining the U.S. It also looks at U.S. allies and other significant states in the world. It notes that “NATO has continued its enlargement, stepped up military deployment in Central and Eastern Europe and conducted frequent military exercises.” As well, it notes that “Russia is strengthening its nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities for strategic containment and striving to safeguard its strategic security space and interests”. Furthermore, it points out that “[t]he European Union is accelerating its security and defense integration to be more independent in its own security”.
The document is transparent in its statement that the goal of Chinese defence policy is countering the U.S. and replacing it as the world's superpower. China singles out those states that it sees as U.S. allies and partners in disrupting the region, particularly South Korea, Japan and Australia. The document also singles out Australia for its military alliance with the U.S. and its military engagement in the Asia-Pacific region as “seeking a bigger role in security affairs”. Not surprisingly, the document claims that Chinese policy in the Asia-Pacific region has been a resounding success and suggests a China-led security architecture for the future. It seems that Beijing views the Asia-Pacific region in almost the same manner as imperial Japan did immediately before and during World War II.
The white paper asserts that the fundamental goal of national defence in this new era is to deter and resist aggression; safeguard national political security, the people's security and social stability; oppose and contain Taiwan independence; crack down on proponents of separatist movements, such as Tibet independence and the creation of East Turkestan; and safeguard national sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security. Other strategic national security objectives include safeguarding China's maritime rights and interests and its security interests in outer space, electromagnetic space and cyberspace, as well as safeguarding China's overseas interests and supporting the sustainable development of the country.
The white paper notes that the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by China, are inalienable parts of the Chinese territory. It vows that Beijing will defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity via patrols in the waters near the disputed islands. Other states that claim parts of the South China Sea are told that the sea is also an inalienable part of China.
The white paper states:
China exercises its national sovereignty to build infrastructure and deploy necessary defensive capabilities on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea....
With regard to Taiwan, the document uses plain language not seen in previous defence white papers. It states that:
To solve the Taiwan question and achieve complete reunification of the country is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation and essential to realizing national rejuvenation. China adheres to the principles of “peaceful reunification”, and “one country, two systems”, promotes peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and advances peaceful reunification....
This is what it says.
The linchpin of Beijing's political objectives is the People's Liberation Army. China has the world's largest military machine, with more than 2 million soldiers, which can be turned against an adversary like Taiwan at any time and with little warning. China continues to have organizational and doctrinal issues that undermine its effectiveness.
The People's Liberation Army has also not seen real combat since its border war with Vietnam in 1979 and skirmishes with India in the Himalayas. The People's Liberation Army, or PLA, has an increasingly modern military featuring strategic nuclear and conventional rockets and ground, sea and air forces.
In terms of the strategic nuclear deterrent, China has 100 rail-based ICBMs that may be targeted on the U.S. right now, and has developed two new fields of some 250 silos for its reportedly growing nuclear arsenal. It is important to note that the increase in the Chinese nuclear strategic deterrent tends to move away from its past minimalist approach to nuclear counterstrike, which it has reportedly had for decades. It suggests that Beijing is about to drop all pretenses of a no-first-use policy.
In August 2021, China reportedly tested at least one nuclear-capable HGV that was launched from a Long March 2C rocket and orbited the earth before it attacked its intended target. The HGV travels at an extremely high speed to its target: above Mach 5. It is manoeuvrable, unlike a ballistic warhead on a parabolic path, and it may strike its target with little or no warning almost anywhere on the globe.
Fractional orbital bombardment systems, FOBS, are designed to place nuclear warheads into a fractional orbit from the southern hemisphere where they would likely go undetected, instead of launching them by a ballistic missile over the North Pole. The advantage of FOBS is that they avoid the North American Aerospace Defense Command. NORAD's constellation of radar stations looks out into the Arctic space, and satellites are positioned to look at the northern hemisphere, rather than to look south. As well, the FOBS have no range limit, are incredibly fast and have no predictable path to give away their target.
The Communist Party of China has at its disposal an army of about 975,000 soldiers to defend Chinese interests, with enormous reserves potential and important paramilitary forces of around 660,000 soldiers. Beijing now has the world's largest navy, with 250,000 sailors and 355 warships that it can focus on the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The PLA navy has four modern amphibious dock vessels and two amphibious helicopter assault ships. The navy has two aircraft carriers, one cruiser, 32 destroyers, 49 frigates, and about 125 smaller corvettes and missile craft of various capabilities. It has a submarine force of nuclear-powered ballistic missile and hunter-killer boats along with many conventionally powered subs. The two operational aircraft carriers are of modest capability, with a larger third carrier under construction. However, the surface combatants are peers or near-peers to their western counterparts.
For Canada, it is important to remember that China is interested in our Arctic region and the riches there, as well as the prospect of a sheltered area where its nuclear-powered ballistic missile subs might hide during possible tensions with either the U.S. or Russia. Chinese state media have reportedly called the Northwest Passage a golden waterway for future trade. To Denmark's concern, Beijing has expressed an interest in Greenland.
In conclusion, Canada ignores China's growing global interests and its military might at our peril. We have to step up, join our allies in Quad and AUKUS and vote for this committee to reconvene and do some very good work.
Madam Speaker, I hope that I can get a question from the member for , given his passion in this particular debate.
I am pleased to rise today in the House to address the motion brought forward by the hon. member for . My remarks today will focus on the bilateral relations between China and Canada, as well as on China in the context of the development of our government's Indo-Pacific strategy.
The relationship between Canada and China dates back to the early days of the history of our country. As the motion highlights, Canadians of Chinese descent have made immeasurable contributions to Canada and are interwoven into the fabric of our society. Today, nearly two million residents of Canada are of Chinese origin and form one of the largest groups among Canada's immigrant population. In many ways, these people-to-people ties represent the closest link between our two countries.
International trade is another important aspect of our relationship with China. China is Canada's third-largest merchandise export market. With the world's largest population and a growing middle class, China offers Canadian exporters important opportunities, as well as ongoing challenges in certain sectors.
There can be no doubt that China has changed significantly in recent decades. It has benefited selectively from a rules-based international order in pursuing its economic rise. China seems determined to reshape the international order to meet its own needs, and its aggressive actions in the South China Sea and East China Sea threaten regional and global stability.
The mounting evidence of China's disrespect for basic human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, including the treatment of Tibetans, Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China, who continue to face repression, forced labour and discrimination, and national security law imposed on the people of Hong Kong in 2020, are all deeply troubling and at odds with Canadian values and interests. In response to these actions, Canada and other countries must continue to speak up and challenge China. We cannot allow any country, regardless of its size, to disregard human rights. At the same time, if we hope to make progress on global issues such as climate change, the environment and public health, we must find ways to engage and collaborate with China.
Our government is prioritizing a comprehensive approach to the Indo-Pacific region that will guide our foreign policy for the next decade. This is not just a strategy for one region of the world, but a strategy for Canada that will impact our peace and prosperity for decades to come. No region will be more important to Canada's interests than the Indo-Pacific.
As the prosperity, security and well-being of Canadians become increasingly linked to the Indo-Pacific region, Canada is deepening our partnerships and expanding our engagement in the region. Canada must engage in the Indo-Pacific with a comprehensive, responsive and integrated approach. It must be one that continues to advance trade and economic objectives while protecting Canada's national security and other security interests, defending a rules-based international order, advancing sustainable development goals and, of course, fighting climate change.
Canada's evolving policy for advancing our interests in China is inseparable from, and a critical piece within, our approach in the broader region. We must continue diversifying into the broader Indo-Pacific, and our relations with China are but one part of the Indo-Pacific strategy under development by the .
As we all know, our bilateral relations have suffered from China's use of coercive diplomacy. This has led Canada to reflect on and assess China's sincerity in constructively resolving issues. We are taking a step-by-step approach to assessing Chinese intentions and managing our interests in China.
While our government acknowledges the complexity of Canada-China relations, we will continue to co-operate, when it makes sense to do so, on global issues and shared interests. We will challenge the Chinese government's violation of international rules and norms, compete with authoritarian approaches by advancing those that support democracy, transparency and accountability, and coexist with the most populous nation on earth.
As part of this approach, on April 5, the spoke with the People's Republic of China's state councillor and foreign affairs minister, Wang Yi. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been clear that Canada will continue to stand for and raise human rights concerns, and she reiterated Canada's expectations towards China in resolving outstanding bilateral issues. The minister also emphasized the need for China to play a constructive role to stop the war in Ukraine, as the nations of the world were watching Chinese actions on this file very closely. The minister has also highlighted the many areas on which both countries can work together, such as climate change, the environment and global health.
In conclusion, bilateral relations can be complex and dynamic, but our national interests and long-standing Canadian values are a constant. Canada and China will continue to have deep people-to-people ties and share many economic, social and cultural interests, which will continue to enrich the fabric of both our societies. Our government continues to advance Canada's interests by managing relations with China through a principled approach, and we will be steadfast and firm in upholding Canadian values and interests.
I want to end by addressing the proposal to create a new special committee. There are already several existing parliamentary committees where bilateral relations issues can be and have been raised. At the top of this list is the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, which has, already this year, undertaken a thorough and constructive study of China-related matters. The foreign affairs committee remains best placed to study these matters, and I am concerned that my colleague is simply creating a vehicle to duplicate its work with this proposal.
Madam Speaker, this feels a bit like Back to the Future
or Groundhog Day
, as we keep reliving the same thing over and over again. Of course we have always been in favour of creating a committee to examine the relationship between the People's Republic of China and Canada. It is no different today; we have not changed our minds. We believe it is still relevant to have a committee to take a closer look specifically at this matter.
There is no denying that the People's Republic of China is a military, political, and economic superpower. It was a real Eldorado for the Liberal government of the 1990s. Everyone said we should relocate all our businesses to China and take advantage of China's cheap labour. By doing business with China, we would eventually help raise the standard of living there, which would inevitably advance democracy and help it blossom like a flower in the spring.
A few decades on, we have become a little disillusioned with the logic and narrative that the Liberal government of the day was trying to impose. Nevertheless, the fact remains that China is an undisputed economic power.
We need to recognize that relations between the People's Republic of China and Canada were excellent for decades. We can think of the time when Canada provided wheat to contribute to famine relief in the People's Republic of China or the influence Dr. Bethune had during the Chinese revolution. There is also the fact that former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was among the first western heads of state to establish relations with the People's Republic of China.
Relations between our countries were always extremely positive until they faltered significantly with the request to extradite Meng Wanzhou, followed by the illegal detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. I thought it was important at that point to take a look at what could have happened and how we might try to restore relations.
Then something happened that had me completely shocked. I was floored. We came to realize that the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations was not the least bit interested in finding solutions to improve relations with the People's Republic of China. It had become a partisan political tool to try to put the government in a tough spot. I will not get into details because we will probably have an opportunity to come back to it. The whole thing was abruptly interrupted when an entirely unnecessary election was called unexpectedly last fall.
In the meantime, thanks to the election of a new government in Washington, a solution was found that, although somewhat questionable, made it possible to resolve the problem of the U.S. request to extradite Meng Wanzhou, which then led to the almost immediate release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
After the election results were announced, we came back to the House and, lo and behold, the Conservatives decided that they needed a new toy, a new tool with which to play partisan politics. All of a sudden, now that the two Michaels had been released, they felt there was no longer a need for the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. Now, the Conservatives wanted a special committee to examine the disastrous Afghanistan evacuation. Our Conservative friends were convinced that this would win them political points. They no longer needed the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations at that time.
We criticized the fact that the Conservatives were abandoning the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. Obviously, we were not against creating the Special Committee on Afghanistan because, admittedly, some missteps and bad decisions were made, and we needed to try to identify any problems in advance just in case we should ever find ourselves in another such situation.
Incidentally, the late premier Jacques Parizeau often said that we must never underestimate the federal government's ability to disappoint us. In this case, it seems as though the federal government never learns from past lessons. Although we have to hope that the federal government will learn from what happened in Afghanistan, I must admit that it may disappoint us again this time.
In any event, we put pressure on the government to bring back the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. However, for their own reasons, the Conservatives were not ready for the committee to be reinstated at that time. I will let my colleagues speak to the reasons why they may not have wanted that committee to be re-established.
Let us see where we are this morning. The Special Committee on Afghanistan is wrapping up its work. The Conservatives' new political toy or tool will soon be a thing of the past. What issue has become their new political football? They have suddenly proposed a special committee on the relationship between Canada and the People's Republic of China. That is rather extraordinary.
Our Conservative friends did not think it would be useful to bring back the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations even though the world has changed profoundly in the months since the election, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Now their priority is suddenly to reinstate the committee, so what made them change their minds?
I want to make it clear to my colleagues that we agree. We have always believed that this committee served a purpose. However, I sincerely wonder about why our Conservative friends are bringing this proposal forward now. It was relevant after the election, but they were not at all interested. Suddenly, now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, they find it relevant again, with the Special Committee on Afghanistan a few weeks away from wrapping up.
I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I think that if someone suspected partisan motives were behind this proposal, they might be right. In any case, we must acknowledge that it certainly seems that way. However, as I have said from the beginning, even though I have serious doubts that our Conservative friends' motives are honourable, we will vote in favour of this motion because we believe and always have believed that this committee served a purpose.
I would now like to take some time to talk about the wording of the motion moved by my colleague from , whom I salute. It is always a pleasure to work with him.
I want to draw my colleagues' attention to one of the points early in the motion: “(iii) the distinction between the people of China and the Chinese state, as embodied by the Communist Party of China and the government of the People's Republic of China”. I think we can essentially all agree on that one.
I think the next line is worthy of a little commentary. It states, “(iv) that authoritarian states, including the People's Republic of China, increasingly pose a threat to the rules-based international order”. The Conservatives seem to have discovered that there are authoritarian states in the world. It may come as a shock to some, but less than half of our fellow humans on this planet live in democracies.
Given Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the People's Republic of China's threats against Taiwan, I understand this sudden desire to highlight the fact that “authoritarian states, including the People's Republic of China, increasingly pose a threat to the rules-based international order”, but I simply want to point out that this is not new.
Authoritarian states are not new. Because of some kind of agreement or tacit alliance between the two countries, the authoritarian states of Russia and the People's Republic of China may constitute a threat to the international order established after the Second World War.
I remind members that when the United Nations was created, we appointed the five largest powers at the time to maintain balance within the international system. The invasion of Ukraine, however, has highlighted the limits of this system, as one of the five powers meant to help maintain international order has gone out of control.
We find ourselves in a situation where neither the People's Republic of China nor Russia are what one might call democratic states. It appears that they have decided to collaborate, and we fully understand the threat that poses to the world order as we knew it, until recently at least.
Let me digress for a moment to share another fascinating point. By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin thought he would discourage all states from wanting to eventually join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. However, the exact opposite has happened. Do not forget that under Donald Trump's administration, President Macron described NATO as being virtually brain dead.
There were questions about the usefulness and relevance of NATO, but Vladimir Putin has made the organization relevant again—so much so that states that have traditionally been neutral for decades, such as Finland and Sweden, are now considering joining NATO. Vladimir Putin has pushed countries into NATO's arms by trying to prevent Ukraine from joining the organization.
Moreover, after Brexit, some European countries, such as Poland and Hungary, started questioning the point of the European Union. After the invasion of Ukraine, people stopped questioning whether the European Union was relevant or useful. In response to the Russian threat, the European Union, like NATO, closed ranks like never before.
We may agree with our colleague from that this kind of tacit alliance between Russia and the People's Republic of China represents a significant threat to the international order as we knew it until very recently.
Even so, that does not take away from the problems we are seeing inside and outside the People's Republic of China as acknowledged in point (iv) of the motion. One example is the new silk road, China's move to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in Africa and ultimately render former colonial powers, such as France, and even countries without a colonial past, such as Canada, irrelevant. Canada had a notable and noted presence in Africa for decades, but it literally missed the boat.
While China was investing heavily in Africa, Canada withdrew from that continent, especially under the influence of Stephen Harper's Conservative government. This opened Africa's doors to the Chinese. We missed the boat, and the Chinese are emerging as the power to be reckoned with in Africa. Russia is doing the same thing in Mali now. As the French pull out, the Russians are moving in. As point (iv) indicates, this contributes to a possible destabilisation of the international order.
I was talking a moment ago about the incredible and surprising solidarity shown by NATO and EU states in the face of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. We all thought about our friends in Taiwan, because we know that China is keeping a close eye on what is happening right now. Xi Jinping has made no secret of the fact that he would like to bring Taiwan back into the fold of mainland China. There have been concerns about the repercussions this would have.
At a reception in Taiwan's honour last night, it was noted that Taiwan is Canada's 11th largest trading partner, the fifth largest in Asia. This is significant. Taiwan is inextricably intertwined with the global economic system. However, if the People's Republic of China were to invade Taiwan, given the influence of Chinese banks on assets in Europe, would Europe be able to show the same level of solidarity in imposing sanctions on China, which is even more inextricably intertwined in the international economic system than Russia is?
What is happening right now is extremely concerning. It is not a matter of if the People's Republic of China will invade Taiwan but when, and the question is how the international community will be able to respond to this new transgression of international rules.
It is important to create a new committee on Canada-China relations. We think it appropriate to support this motion even though, once again, I highly doubt the good intentions of our Conservative friends, who moved with this motion at such an odd time, after Russia invaded Ukraine and a few days after the Special Committee on Afghanistan wrapped up its work, which did not give the Conservatives the political dividends they were hoping for. Now they are turning their attention to something else, and it seems that the political panacea for the Conservatives today is to reactivate the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.
We will step up. We will do what we can to ensure that this committee does not become another partisan circus, and that we can lay the foundation for a better understanding and, we hope, better relations with the People's Republic of China, given the country's significance in the international system.
Madam Speaker, it is my honour, as always, to speak in this place and share my thoughts. I want to start today by saying that I appreciate very much the incredible insight of my colleague from , so I will be splitting my time with her today.
This motion is very difficult for me, to be perfectly honest. I am going to spend the next few minutes talking about things that I am very supportive of with regard to this motion and things that I think are very problematic with it.
I want to thank my colleague from for bringing this motion forward. I have great respect for the member. I think he is very knowledgeable and experienced. I have depended on his experience in the past.
I appreciate the portion of this motion that notes:
Canadians of Chinese descent have made immeasurable contributions to Canada
I think that is an important note we need to make. It also says:
the people of China are part of an ancient civilization that has contributed much to humanity
That is also an extremely important piece to this.
I support the idea of Parliament and members of this place spending more time looking at our relationship with China. We have seen very problematic things coming out of the China-Canada relationship. Many of them are very well known to all of the members of the House.
I have been listening to the debate this morning, and I have been hearing people say that this can happen at the foreign affairs committee. I am going to touch on this a bit later on, but I have to say that the foreign affairs committee has not been particularly good at getting things through when either the Conservatives or the Liberals do not want them to get through. I am going to touch on that later.
Just so members know, we have constraints within the foreign affairs committee because of the enormous amount of work we need to do, and also because there are tricks and whatnot being used within the foreign affairs committee to limit the amount of work we can do, by both the government and the opposition, to clarify.
The Canada-China committee would be an opportunity for us to look at those myriad issues that affect Canadians with regard to our relationship with China. I have met with many stakeholders and many constituents who are deeply concerned about that relationship. It is a vital relationship. We have an incredibly strong economic relationship with China that should have parliamentary oversight. However, we have serious concerns about what is happening with regard to human rights in China and other areas of the world. As someone who has spoken many times to Hong Kongers who are deeply alarmed and devastated by what has happened in Hong Kong, and as someone who has spoken to people in Taiwan who are quite worried, I know a lot is happening.
Consider the situation with the Uighurs. I was a member of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights that did the initial study on the genocide against the Uighur people. I heard the harrowing testimony from witnesses, experts and legal scholars on the genocide that is happening in China. That is very important as well. We were all seized by the hostage-taking of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, but they were not the only Canadians who have been held in detention. There are still Canadians being held in detention, and we need to find a way to work with China to have that situation resolved.
Even just recently, I was deeply concerned about the news I heard that our previous ambassador, Ambassador Barton, was able to take a very lucrative job with a mining company after meeting with that company as an employee of the Crown. After holding that highest of positions, he was able to translate it into a lucrative opportunity for himself. I know, because I did check with the Ethics Commissioner, that laws were not broken in that situation, but it certainly did not pass the smell test for me and I am sure for many other Canadians around the world.
There is a rationale for this committee. However, I have some serious concerns, and I think I share them with many members of the House. A lot of them stem from this question: Why should we single out China at this time? Knowing the scenario we are in and knowing there is a war after the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, which is deeply troubling for all parliamentarians, the use of this motion to single out the issues we have with China is problematic for me.
I want to go through a few of the areas where we could also have committees.
I look at what is happening in Ethiopia. I look at what is happening to the Tigrayan people. It is devastating to see what is happening to the Tigrayan people. We have a Tigrayan diaspora, and it has reached out to me so many times to ask for help and ask for us to do more, so work needs to be done there as well.
I look at Yemen. My goodness. The Conservatives and the Liberals have sold arms to Saudi Arabia, which is fuelling the violence in Yemen to the point that Canada has been called out by the United Nations. Canada has been called out and shamed at the United Nations for fuelling a conflict. David Beasley from the World Food Programme has said it is the “worst place on earth”. Maybe we need to have a conversation about that. Maybe we need to have a conversation or committee about arms sales and where we are selling arms in this country.
We are also selling them to Israel. We have not, at the foreign affairs committee, looked at what is happening in the Middle East. Yesterday, we brought forward a motion in the House about a journalist who was murdered. He was shot and killed, and we condemn violence against journalists. However, the Conservatives did not allow that motion to go forward.
If we are so concerned about human rights abuses around the world, which members know is something that I deeply believe in, then protecting human rights is protecting human rights. Why does it only count in some situations? Why does it not count when it is a journalist attacked in the Middle East? Why does that not count, yet something happening to the Uighur people does? It is of course something we need to look at and study, but I do not understand how the Conservatives pick and choose. How do they cherry-pick human rights? Human rights are human rights, whether they happen in Canada or any other country in the world.
When I started, I talked about the foreign affairs committee. I agree with my colleague from the Bloc that the foreign affairs committee is extremely busy right now. Everyone in this House can appreciate the amount of work and effort that we are putting toward the conflict in Ukraine. It is seizing our attention and we are deeply engaged in that particular issue.
I see the need to have other opportunities to look at other conflicts. Maybe we need two foreign affairs committees, to be perfectly honest, because the world has changed. The world is a very difficult place at the moment. However, I want to reiterate that the foreign affairs committee has made choices in the past not to study things that are important. Members of that committee have made choices to filibuster, to delay and to use stall tactics so that we do not always meaningfully look at Canada's role in the world and the important role Canada could, should and used to play in the world. There is something to be discussed in that place as well.
I am going to spend the next several days really thinking about this motion. I am going to be talking to my constituents. I am going to be talking to stakeholders. I am going to be engaging with the community. I am going to be talking to my colleagues. We have to have a bigger conversation about how we want Canada's role in the world to be articulated and how we as parliamentarians want to move forward in this changing geopolitical climate.
I will end my remarks there. I look forward to questions from my colleagues.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for for bringing forward this motion today. I also would like to thank my hon. colleague from for sharing her time with me and for her incredible insight on this. I am always so grateful to share these issues with her, and I learn from her every day.
The member for put forward a lot of really key points in her speech about what the House needs to think about. While I certainly think it is important to re-establish the special committee to examine and review all the aspects of the relationship between Canada and the People's Republic of China, I think we have to do so with all of the issues that she has brought to the point here in mind and with an understanding that this is a specific committee, a special committee. However, it needs to be brought forward in such a way that we get to the heart of what we need to determine the international foreign policy that Canada holds.
I also want to note that when I refer to China today, I am referring to the People's Republic of China and not the people of China. There have been a lot of references to the need for further discussion about future studies from this special committee, and of course, the continuation of issues that were already brought up by the former committee but that have not been fully addressed yet.
As a member for the Standing Committee on National Defence, I know we are wrapping up a study on security threat analysis, Canada's position in this quickly changing world and the deterioration of relations with China. These were part of the study, and they are very concerning. It is inadequate to simply say that China is an integral component of our international future, whether it be in trade, the economy, or social or security actions and considerations. It is about how we are moving forward in this world.
At a time when insecurity is heightened due to Russia's illegal war in Ukraine, we must ensure that China does not follow suit, and an example of that is with Taiwan. Last night, I had the honour to attend Taiwan night, which is a celebration from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, and many from this place spoke last night about the incredible contributions of Taiwan to the world. It was one of the first countries that helped Canada during the pandemic by sending much-needed PPE, and Taiwan has shipped over 50 tonnes of medical supplies to Ukraine because of its urgent humanitarian considerations.
This must continue and grow. We must support that. I am proud that Canada has joined with many allies in the world to fight for and hold true to the democratic principles of the rule of law and the international rules-based order in Ukraine. Again, as my colleague from so wonderfully, so eloquently, so rightfully noted, Canada does not do this consistently.
We can no longer pick and choose which human rights we will uphold. It is time that all parties, mine included, take a long look at our own internal policies, our determination to fight against the violation of human rights domestically and internationally for our allies, and those who are not yet aligned but hopefully will be in the future, to clearly define the principles of international human rights and a rules-based order for all.
As I mentioned, I am a member of the national defence committee, and we have clearly heard from witnesses at that committee that China is a security concern. Canada sent the HMCS Winnipeg through the Taiwan Strait as a signal of support and a showing of strength against that aggressive posturing of the People's Republic of China.
That is simply one example of why I support this motion and the re-establishment of this committee. The global security environment should be a focus of this committee. I would also insist that the committee study the vital need to fix the diplomatic crisis between Canada and China. We need to do a deep dive into the past four years and the mismanagement of this diplomatic disaster.
The incarceration of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor continued for more than three years. They experienced severe conditions and a failure to have legal counsel or contact with their families. This was a horrendous situation. Although they were thankfully released, as my colleague noted, there are so many that still remain incarcerated. I know that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are still very concerned about this issue.
Canadians asked us to work together and New Democrats are always willing to do that work. We must work together to make life better for Canadians and for everyone all over the world.
Canadians are concerned about what is going on in China. The protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong have been of much concern for a long time now. Canadians are concerned as to what is happening to the people of Hong Kong and Canadian citizens in Hong Kong. They are concerned about human rights in Hong Kong and the imposition of the government of China’s one country, two systems policy. It is a complex relationship, certainly from a human rights perspective.
Concern for the Uighurs is extremely high in Canada. We have to find ways to put pressure in whatever way possible to seek to resolve some of these issues. Of course, we have long-standing concerns about Tibet as well.
Again, we have that complex relationship and significant trade relations with China. We have seen how disruption in that trade can so quickly and seriously affect Canadians, particularly as we have seen for Canadian farmers with canola, soybeans, peas, beef and pork, which have cost millions and millions of dollars for Canadians and farmers. Some of these issues have been resolved, but others are still outstanding. This important relationship is something we have to take very seriously.
This motion could put into effect the kind of collaboration that Canadians want to see in the government of Canada. We still have a Liberal government, at which I shake my head sometimes, but we have other voices that will come to the table. I believe that the continuation of this committee in another Parliament is an important part of the collaboration.
Interestingly, my colleague, Jack Harris, the former member of Parliament for St. John’s East, spoke to the first Conservative call for this special committee in 2019. He spoke about that collaboration. While he is recently retired from this place, I am sure he heard his fair share of rhetoric and raised tempers in the House, and maybe sometimes it was his own. I would have to say that I believe those have increased since he left. In his speech to the House, Jack spoke to the former special Canada-China committee, stating:
That is an opportunity for a special committee to look at that whole [nation-to-nation] relationship and see if there are ways that we can improve that relationship beyond what is being done now and in different ways. There may well be things that are being overlooked. There may be other opportunities.
I certainly hope that the government would see this as an opportunity to reset the tone, to set up a new relationship and send a signal to China about what we want and how we want to achieve that in ways that we could not do in another form in this Parliament. Of course, I cannot prejudge what will happen at the committee, but New Democrats certainly do not want this to be another point for political battle between the opposition and the government or to see finger pointing. We do not think that is going to help the circumstances.
As my colleagues have rightfully mentioned at the foreign affairs committee, as well as other committees, this can be where things get held up, when we do not get to the key issues or talk about all the incredible ways that Canada could be an important part of that human rights conversation. It is one thing to be critical, of course, of the government's failures. I am, and they are certainly obvious in some cases.
In his discourse, Jack Harris stated:
We have to recognize that diplomatic relations are just that, diplomatic, and they have to be carried out in a spirit of willingness by all members in this House who might participate in this committee, and by all parties in this House, and that must be kept in mind in the operation of such a committee. Without that spirit of collaboration, there could be a danger that the relationship could be harmed. It is a leap of faith of the members of this House, a test of the notion of collaboration and a test of the maturity of this Parliament to be able to operate such a committee in a way that meets the needs of Canada in trying to find a solution, but it is also an opportunity for constructive criticism or at least for attempting to find out what does work and what does not work.
I will conclude my remarks by saying that we do support this opposition motion. A Canada-China committee is an important tool for parliamentarians to study the many issues that affect Canadians in our relationship with China. We support that reset of that relationship. We support Canadians knowing that they are safe and that they will benefit from this important and challenging relationship.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for .
I rise today to speak to the proposal for the creation of a special committee on Canada-China relations. At the outset, I want to make it clear that we have no quarrel with the people of China, who have contributed so much to humanity. As a parliamentarian, I have the greatest respect and admiration for the Chinese people. Chinese-Canadians and Canadians of Chinese descent have helped build this country and have made it a far better place. Their contributions simply cannot be overstated. Our quarrel is with the Chinese Communist Party. In my comments today, when I speak of China, I want to be clear that I am, in all cases, speaking of the Chinese Communist Party.
Some members are asking why we need this committee specifically dedicated to Canada-China relations, why we need to study our relationship with China, and why the Conservatives are so concerned about the CCP. It is because Conservatives see an authoritarian China as the most consequential foreign policy relationship Canada will face in a generation. Through policies of repression and aggression, China has frightened countries near and far.
In recent years, China has expanded aggressively on multiple fronts. Wolf warrior diplomacy has replaced friendship diplomacy. Perceived slights from foreigners, no matter how small, are met with North Korean-style condemnation. A combative attitude has seeped into every part of China's foreign policy, and it is confronting many countries with their gravest threat in generations.
This threat is most apparent in maritime East Asia, where China is moving aggressively to cement its vast territorial claims. Beijing is churning out warships faster than any country has since World War II, and it has flooded Asian sea lanes with Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels. It has strung military outposts across the South China Sea, and dramatically increased its use of ship ramming and aerial interceptions to shove neighbours out of disputed areas. In the Taiwan Strait, Chinese military patrols, some involving a dozen warships and more than 50 combat aircraft, prowl the sea almost daily and simulate attacks on Taiwanese and U.S. targets.
China has gone on the economic offensive, as well.
Its latest five-year plan calls for dominating what Chinese officials call “choke points”, goods and services that other countries cannot live without, and then using that dominance, plus the lure of China's domestic market, to browbeat countries into concessions. China has become the dominant dispenser of overseas loans, loading up more than 150 countries with over $1 trillion in debt. It has massively subsidized strategic industries to gain a monopoly on hundreds of vital products, and it has stalled the hardware for digital networks in dozens of countries.
Armed with economic leverage, it has used coercion against more than a dozen countries over the past number of years. In many cases, the punishment has been disproportionate to the supposed crime. For example, China is slapping tariffs on many of Australia's exports after that country requested an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19, and here at home in Canada, when China wished to steamroll over our courts and the rule of law to free Meng Wanzhou, it banned Canadian canola. This is something that cost the industry over $2 billion. Later that same year, it suspended Canadian beef imports and placed sanctions against our colleague in this House, the member for .
China uses subsidies and espionage to help its firms dominate global markets and protects its domestic market with non-tariff barriers. It censors foreign ideas and companies on its own Internet, and freely accesses the global Internet to steal intellectual property and spread CCP propaganda. China has also become a potent anti-democratic force, and sells advanced tools of tyranny around the world.
By combining surveillance cameras with social media monitoring, artificial intelligence, biometrics, and speech and facial recognition technologies, the Chinese government has pioneered a system that allows dictators to watch citizens constantly and punish them instantly by blocking their access to finance, education, employment, telecommunications or travel. The apparatus is a despot's dream, and Chinese companies are already selling and operating aspects of it in more than 80 countries.
It is time for this government to take seriously the threats that the Beijing communist leadership poses to Canada's national interests and security, as well as our interests and values. For example, it is has been over a year, and the Liberal government has yet to release the Indo-Pacific strategy.
This committee is critical to examining all of these challenges and threats. It would be all-party and multidisciplinary, with the ability to look at all aspects of the Canada-China relationship, from complex consular cases to national security issues and from trade to global affairs, within the context of a committee that could go in camera with respect to sensitive information.
It is crucial that we uphold Canada's role in defending the rules-based international order. Canada must play its traditional role as a “linchpin”, as Winston Churchill described us, between Europe and America. We are a G7 nation. We are a NATO nation. We are a NORAD nation, and we are a Five Eyes nation. For a country small in population, Canada punches far above its weight when it comes to building relationships that are necessary to influencing our national interests, the freedom and liberty of others and the interests of the western alliance.
We do not need a three-day study at a standing committee. We need a specialized, multidisciplinary committee that has the ability to explore not just complex consular cases, but trade, defence, security and the actions and impacts of China. We need to grapple with the moral and ethical complexities of a bilateral trade relationship with a country that this Parliament has declared is committing genocide against the Uighur people.
China is a country that is quickly eroding the strong democracy of Hong Kong. It is a country that, just in February, signed a sweeping, long-term agreement with Russia that challenges the United States as a global power, challenges NATO as a cornerstone of international security and challenges liberal democracy as a model for the world. It is a country whose aspirations toward Taiwan may be emboldened by Mr. Putin's brutal war of tyranny in Ukraine. Also, we must be ever mindful of the threat of espionage in a digital world.
All this bellicosity and belligerence on the part of China is simply not working. In fact, it is only sparking an international backlash: one that our seems to have not fully comprehended. That is why we need a committee, independent of the PMO and executive branch of government, to study these issues and take a serious look at our relationship with China.
There has never been any doubt about what China wants, because Chinese leaders have declared the same objectives for decades: to keep the Chinese Communist Party in power, reabsorb Taiwan, control the East China Sea and South China Sea, and return China to its rightful place as the dominant power in Asia and the most powerful country in the world.
Competing with and containing China will be fraught with risks for Canada and its allies, but it might be the only way to avoid even greater dangers. That is why it is critical we reinstate the Canada-China committee so that all parliamentarians can study, discuss and carefully consider how best to protect our interests and our sovereignty.
I would like to close with a Chinese proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I humbly ask my colleagues in the House to let us take that step together.
Madam Speaker, it is indeed an honour to stand today to talk about the re-establishment of the Canada-China special committee and the work we need to undertake with respect to our relationship with China.
I want to thank my colleague from for his very strong intervention, and indeed all members of the House as we consider taking on this important work.
The month of May is Asian Heritage Month, and I want to recognize all the great contributions that Asians and Chinese Canadians have made to this country. I want to mention the Hon. Philip Lee, who was the lieutenant governor of Manitoba, and the great work he did in representing the Crown in Manitoba, which he did with dignity and grace. He was an excellent representative of the Government of Manitoba.
Earlier this week, a number of my colleagues were outside on the front lawn talking about the 30th anniversary of Falun Dafa, which is known as World Falun Dafa Day. We talked about all of the great contributions that Asian Canadians are making to Canada. We can look at how Falun Gong practitioners have come here and how they practise what they preach: truthfulness, tolerance and forbearance. They have brought those qualities and values to Canada and made us a better country.
Unfortunately, Falun Gong practitioners in China are being persecuted, arrested, subjected to illegal organ harvesting, which is disgusting, and brutalized by the communist regime in Beijing. They expect us to use this committee to get to the bottom of what is happening under the communist regime and to stop it by sanctioning those who profiteer from this disgusting illegal organ harvesting. We need to make sure there is legislation coming through. There is a bill coming from the Senate, Bill , that will address this issue and hold to account not just those who are committing the atrocities in China, but those around the world who are paying for and benefiting from those organs in a way that would be considered illegal in Canada. We need to put a stop to it.
As we look at the work that this special committee on Canada-China relations can do, it can dig down into the human rights abuses that are happening, not only to the Falun Gong practitioners I have mentioned, but also to the Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians and other minority religious groups throughout China that have been completely ostracized by the regime in Beijing. We know they are not allowed to practise freedom of religion. We know they have not been able to assemble peacefully because they will be arrested and ultimately end up in prison or in forced labour. We are seeing more and more the Chinese government using people of ethnic and religious diversities as forced labour, and we have to make sure that no Canadian companies are profiteering or using supply chains that involve this type of forced, illegal labour.
We have talked about supply chains. If we look at what has happened in Canada during the pandemic, the supply chains have been disrupted, partly because so much of that is coming out of China itself. We need to have sovereign control over a lot of those supply chains. We need to make sure we are working with our friends and allies around the world so we can have dependable supply chains, so we can get the electronic chips that go into the cars that are now sitting at parking lots and auto dealerships around the country; they cannot move because they lack some of the computer chips that are needed to operate the vehicles.
We know that supply chains were disrupted when it comes to PPE and that we were scrambling because of the unwillingness of mainland China to bring forward any of the supply we so desperately needed. We need to look at how we can strengthen our supply chain and work more with our allies and trading partners without having Chinese companies, which are often controlled by the state, coming into that supply chain and disrupting it. For our own economy, for our own citizens, it is important that we have control. It is about national security.
One of the biggest disappointments in the past six years under the Liberal government, and now the Liberal-NDP coalition, is that Huawei is still out there as a potential supplier of 5G technology to our mobile cellular system and Wi-Fi systems. We know Huawei has been tied to espionage around the world. That is why our Five Eyes partners, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, have all banned Huawei from their mobile systems, yet here we are, still waffling because the government cannot make a decision. That is despicable. We need to make these decisions.
We can look at how Huawei in particular has worked, even here in Canada. When I was parliamentary secretary for national defence, we took over the Nortel campus, when Nortel unfortunately closed its doors, and made that into the new campus for National Defence. It took years to clean out all the switches and wiring installed by Huawei, which had the ability to spy on Nortel, and ultimately on National Defence as it took over these buildings. National Defence was not there when this was originally installed in the Nortel campus, and it was not meant to be used against National Defence, but with National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces moving into the Nortel campus, the dynamics changed completely.
There is a huge track record by Huawei of not being trustworthy. It is under the Communist Party of China's control through its own charter as a corporation, and it has to co-operate with the Government of China when it wants Huawei to spy on other nations, corporations or individuals. We need to be very forthright in how we deal with it.
One of the things the committee should look at is how Canada can insert itself in some of the national security conversations that are happening on a global scale. In the Pacific, there is already what is called the quadrilateral dialogue, which involves India, Japan, the United States and Australia. Canada is not part of that discussion, and it should be.
This committee should look at how Canada can get involved in these conversations to strengthen the Indo-Pacific region, how we can make sure we counteract some of those geopolitical games that the communist regime in Beijing has been playing in the South China Sea, how it has been rattling sabres to scare Taiwan, and how it has installed a new administrator for Hong Kong and continues to violate the democratic and civil liberties of the Chinese community in Hong Kong, which includes 300,000 Canadians. We need to make sure we deal with this at the special committee on Canada-China relations.
The other organization that was just set up is being built around a national defence co-operation agreement called AUKUS, which includes Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. They are co-operating not just on intelligence sharing, which the Five Eyes has done, but also on national defence issues, including empowering the Australian navy with submarines, as well as on greater training, co-operation and collaboration among those three allies of Canada.
We should be part of that group. It may be too late for us to get in, and maybe there needs to be a path forward on how Canada can become part of that security agreement, but we are a Pacific nation. As a Pacific nation, we should be more involved in defence issues in the South Pacific, and indeed in the Indo-Pacific region, to counterbalance what is happening with the Chinese geopolitical sphere and the way China is trying to influence and potentially use force as it builds up its military to levels we have never seen.
Finally, when we look at China through this committee, we also need to look at how China is being used as a back door to take Russian goods and enrich the Russian military machine that we see waging war in Ukraine today. We need to make sure we are counterbalancing that, by looking at China and trying to get it to move away from enriching Putin and his kleptocrats. We need to make sure we get more sanctions on Russia, and that includes talking to China about how it should participate in the rule of law under the international agreements we have and isolate Russia, rather than enriching it so it can wage war on the great people of Ukraine.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
The Conservative opposition day motion we are debating today has two points I agree with, while I completely disagree with the objective of the motion to appoint a special committee to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship.
While it is good to have opportunities to review Canada’s relationships with any country so that we can find ways to improve or further strengthen our relationships in a positive way, the objective of this motion is to establish a platform that provides for further degrading Canada’s relationship with China. This motion is designed to provide a stage for harsh and one-sided critics of China. There are things about China that we can and should criticize. I do not foresee any positive outcomes from this proposed committee.
Before I talk about the negative implications of having this committee, let me mention the points I agree with. First, the motion states that Canadians of Chinese descent have made immeasurable contributions to Canada. Absolutely, yes. Our wonderful country, Canada, is an ongoing success story of a nation with extraordinary cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity.
I would like to recognize and appreciate the important contributions that Chinese Canadians have made and continue to make to Canada’s socio-economic, political and cultural heritage. The history of Chinese Canadians goes back as far as the 1700s, but the big movement started in the late 19th century. The road has not always been smooth. Chinese Canadians faced and continue to face discrimination.
If this motion passes and the committee is established, I foresee increased negative perception about Chinese Canadians in our country. In spite of the historical discrimination they have faced, Chinese Canadians, with hard work and determination, have built on the opportunities our wonderful country offers and have been successful in every aspect of society, in the arts, sciences, sports, business and government. To put it simply, Chinese Canadians have made big contributions in building a dynamic and prosperous Canada.
The second point the motion makes that I agree with is that the people of China are part of an ancient civilization that has contributed much to humanity. Again, yes, absolutely. China is a country with a 5,000-year-old civilization. Chinese people have contributed greatly to many fields during their long recorded history. Some of the greatest inventions that have been momentous contributions of the Chinese people to world civilization include papermaking, printing, gunpowder and the compass.
Other than these two points, everything else in this motion aims to design a platform for degrading Canada-China relations, and negatively contributes to Canada’s interests.
If this committee is established, I expect, first, an increased negative perception about Chinese Canadians in our country. We have seen anti-Asian racism on the increase in recent times. The kind of rhetoric I have heard before, and which I am sure will be repeated again in the committee, would lead only to increased negative perceptions of about 1.8 million Canadians who form over 5% of the population.
The second negative effect, if this committee is formed, is further deterioration of our relationship with one of our major trading partners, thus affecting our businesses. China is one of our major trading partners. Canadian exports to China in 2021 were worth about $29 billion. Canadian imports from China were worth about $86 billion.
In addition to low-tech, mundane products, China is also a major technology and high-end products supplier to the world, from telecom equipment to batteries for electric vehicles. China is also a manufacturing base for many products our industries need.
The proponents of this motion appear to be in a make-believe world with no China. Make no mistake, China is and will continue to be a major economy in the world. Canadian businesses need a smooth trading relationship with China, but the end results of this motion, if successful, will achieve anything but that.
The third outcome, if this committee is formed, is the negative impact on the flow of Canada’s most valuable and precious resource requirement, which is immigrants with knowledge, expertise and skills. China, for a long time, has been an important source of our skilled immigrants.
Highly trained Chinese immigrants have become a significant part of our growing knowledge-based economy. While I do not expect a dramatic slowdown in new Canadians from China, the harsh rhetoric will certainly act as a dampener in our efforts to recruit the best and brightest brains as immigrants to Canada.
The fourth negative issue, if this motion is successful, is a further fall in new technology-trained international students from China and a further decline in the numbers of these highly skilled students who become permanent residents and later citizens.
In the growing knowledge-based economy, it is not natural resources that give us prosperity or a competitive edge. It is the knowledge, expertise and skills of the younger generation that can continue to keep us prosperous. In the digital economy, it is the bright, young graduates of today who give us the competitive edge.
China has been a major source of international students, and while China remains the second-largest source for international students to Canada, the trend is declining. It was about 10% less in 2021. The decline began in 2019 and increased due to the pandemic. The anti-China bullhorn diplomacy will only add to the current problem.
Is China perfect? No. China ignores the desire of the people of Taiwan, who have established themselves as an economically successful entity with a vibrant democracy. China has erased the culture and heritage of minorities in its land and the distinctive identities of Tibetans and Uighurs, and we have legitimate concerns for the people in Hong Kong.
As one expert put it, China is neither as benevolent as it claims nor as malicious as it is criticized for being. Let me mention what Jeremy Paltiel, a China expert at Carleton University, said in an article on Global News on May 8, 2021. He said that to see China in the context of “friend or foe” is an overly simplistic approach. “I think that’s a false dichotomy,” he said. “China can be both different and not an enemy.” This nuanced understanding helps countries like Canada that are grappling with thorny issues, including human rights.
The key to a successful Canada-China relationship is to be mindful of the differences without necessarily agreeing with or accepting them. Understanding is not the same thing as pardoning. “We have to be able to find a way of talking across difference without defining 'difference' as being 'enemy',” Paltiel says. “And if we can’t do that, we can’t live in a diverse world.”
To conclude, this motion is not in the interest of Canada and Canadians. Testifying before the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations in the previous parliament, the former Canadian foreign affairs minister and the member of Parliament for mentioned a four Cs approach of Canada to its relationship with China: compete, co-operate, challenge and coexist.
He stated, “China is rapidly becoming a global influence with which all countries must learn to coexist. That means that we must recognize situations in which it is necessary to cooperate with China.” He continued, “[I]t also means that we are competing with China when it comes to trade and to promoting our values. It also implies challenging China when human rights are violated or Canadian citizens and interests are jeopardized.”
However, the objective of the proponents of this motion is not to add value or have a meaningful discussion, but to degrade the relationship between Canada and China—
Madam Speaker, today we are debating a Conservative Party opposition motion moved by the member for that would create a parliamentary committee to study the Canada-People's Republic of China relationship.
I have read the motion and will share my thoughts about it and about global affairs, as they relate to China.
I will start with the provisions of the motion. Overall, they are normal for a committee and I have no objection to most of them. However, I think it is important to discuss the resources available to the House of Commons. The current hybrid format is already putting pressure on the resources available to the House and its committees. The creation of a committee would put additional pressure on the House of Commons staff.
It is also important to recognize that Canada-China relations can be studied by the existing standing committees. For example, this is something that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade could study.
If the Conservatives want to look at the relationship between Canada and China, that could be dealt with by the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology. The relationship between food security and energy could be dealt with by the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, which I chair, or perhaps the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.
My point is that the issues related to this motion can be dealt with by the parliamentary committees already in place.
I also object to the part of the motion that deals with paragraph (r) of the order adopted on Thursday, November 25, 2021, and seeks to give the proposed committee priority over all existing committees. As chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, I may be a bit biased, but we are currently conducting an important study on the environmental contribution of agriculture. We are also looking into a future study on how Canada can best respond to the global food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine and on the future of food. I believe that this work will be important. I have a problem with the possibility that this work could be delayed by the creation of the proposed committee, since the member for can raise this issue in other committees.
I do want to acknowledge the merits of the motion, the first part of which tries to separate the issues and tensions between the Chinese government and Chinese Canadians or the Chinese people in general. There are no Chinese residents in my riding of Kings—Hants. However, I do believe that the manner and tone taken by the Conservative Party in their approach to this issue during the 43rd Parliament made many Chinese Canadians feel singled out.
Let me also take this opportunity, while we are on the subject, to talk about the broader global issues that relate to China. As I have mentioned almost every time I have a chance in the House, the foreign policy landscape has changed significantly since the war in Ukraine on February 24. This presents an opportunity for all of us as parliamentarians and for Canadians to evaluate, position and think about Canada's role in the world, because the world has changed.
China's positioning in the world has taken a very different tone, and I want to highlight and talk about some of that.
There has been extensive debate in the House about the Chinese government's treatment toward Uighur people and about the human rights abuses. Indeed, in the 43rd Parliament, a resolution was passed condemning that behaviour.
There is also Hong Kong. The way that arrangement always intended to work was that Hong Kong would be a separate democratic unit, and what we have seen over the last year has been anything but. The Chinese government has used its authority to change laws and legislation such that freedom of the press and freedom of assembly are not being recognized in Hong Kong. It is not Hong Kong in the way we have known it.
I have heard other colleagues speak to aggression in the South China Sea as well. China is positioning some of its military force in that area in some of the disputed territories. I think that is problematic.
Let us talk about the belt and road initiative. This is something of an economic policy that is tied to diplomacy and the way China is positioning itself in the world, particularly the developing world. China is using economic incentives to draw political and diplomatic interest toward Chinese-influenced spheres. That is something the western world will have to contemplate. Canada needs to be part of the conversations with our allies about making sure we have a response to democracies and countries that might be vulnerable to undue Chinese influence.
I think what is perhaps most concerning has been the abstention of China on the UN Security Council votes, and indeed future votes the UN will have, to condemn Russia's illegal war in Ukraine. China has abstained. It has not shown a willingness to work with western allies to condemn what I think we all know to be true regarding the egregious and terrible actions on behalf of the Russian Federation.
Those are but a few examples that suggest we have to be mindful of how Canada's public policy and global position will relate to China as the western world considers its next steps as a result of the war in Ukraine. We have seen great integration in NATO in its response to military and humanitarian aspects and immigration. I think it is fair to say that the war in Ukraine has actually strengthened resolve for the west to be an important player in the global element and to make sure that countries such as the United States, Canada, the European Union and other western allies are working together.
We have a lot to offer in this domain, such as critical minerals. I have mentioned this before. China is a dominant player in the critical minerals sphere, but Canada has so much potential. I was proud to see this government introduce a $3.8-billion strategy for critical minerals, because our allies will need them to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. These are going to be important in the days ahead and we have the propensity to deliver them.
I have made a number of interventions about the work on energy security and what we can do in this country to provide it to our allies.
Finally, there is diplomacy and the importance of bringing like-minded countries together. Canada does have a role to play as a moderate power in the world. It is a convening role to bring countries together to help make a difference and move forward multilateral issues. These are all legitimate conversations that we should be having in the House.
I will finish with this. I would love to see the member for bring forward a motion that actually highlights the fact that the war in Ukraine is shifting the sands of the foreign policy landscape, and put in some provisions on how he or his party believes Canada should be positioning itself in the world. As I said to him on natural gas, the conversation is too narrow.
Why does the Conservative Party not have a mature debate about where it sees Canada's role on three or four principles, and how best we can address Canada's role and position in the world? I think it would be an important conversation. At the end of the day, this is too narrow and—
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
When I was asked if I wanted to speak to our motion, I jumped at the opportunity, of course. Since the beginning of the debate this morning, I have been hearing my Liberal colleagues making assumptions about the way we see Chinese people. I would therefore like to read the first four paragraphs of our motion, which I think are very important, because in them we recognize the following:
(i) that Canadians of Chinese descent have made immeasurable contributions to Canada,
(ii) that the people of China are part of an ancient civilization that has contributed much to humanity,
(iii) the distinction between the people of China and the Chinese state, as embodied by the Communist Party of China and the government of the People's Republic of China,
(iv) that authoritarian states, including the People's Republic of China, increasingly pose a threat to the rules-based international order,
It is very important to make this clear right away: The members of the Conservative Party recognize that there is a fundamental difference between the people of China and the Chinese communist regime.
We feel it is very important to reconstitute the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, and that is what our motion would do. This motion is not designed to have the committee study the people, but rather the regime and what it is doing against its people and against states like Canada. We would ask the committee to conduct hearings on all aspects of the Canada-China relationship, including diplomatic, consular, legal, economic and security relations.
I want members to understand why the Conservative Party wants this committee to resume its very important work. As I said, the Chinese people have a rich, ancient culture and plenty of goodwill. The problem is the communist regime, and we must remain vigilant and ensure that Canada is not oblivious to the actions of this regime.
I will give an example. A young man of Chinese descent came to work as an intern in my office here, on the Hill, when I was a member of the former Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. He was very enthusiastic and helped me read some texts in Mandarin. We came up with discussion topics together and he told me about the government in his country of origin.
He was very angry about how the Chinese communist regime attacks its own people. Take, for example, the political crisis in Hong Kong or China's view of Taiwan. These are all very important issues, and that is why this committee is so important, so that we can understand what is going on and study Canada's relations with China.
When I was a member of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, many experts came to testify and brought up some issues that most people are unaware of. Parliamentarians from all parties were able to learn more about those issues.
I moved a motion that enabled us to spend a few months studying the implications of China's national security vis-à-vis Canada's. Again, several witnesses came to testify.
We had one particularly important witness, Philippe Dufresne, law clerk and parliamentary counsel at the House of Commons, who explained what happened with the Public Health Agency of Canada documents about the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. We learned how that worked.
The committee also had an opportunity to hear from experts from the Pentagon, who shared information about China's Arctic ambitions. They explained that, in 2015, the Chinese government designated the polar region, the deep seabed and outer space as China's new strategic frontiers, having evidently recognized that these regions were rich in natural resources. The Pentagon also published a report in which it warned that the Chinese government is mapping the Arctic seabed.
That is another reason for the Government of Canada to hurry up and build a polar icebreaker. We need to be present and start monitoring the borders in that highly strategic region.
Huawei is another file we heard a lot about. We on this side of the House do not understand why the current government has not shared its decision on whether Huawei will be banned from Canada's 5G network, when the four other member countries of the Five Eyes have confirmed that there are obvious national security concerns with Huawei's 5G technology.
Christopher Parsons, from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, came to talk to us in committee. He said:
A rising concern is the extent to which Canadian companies, such as our telecoms, might become dependent on products made by Chinese companies, inclusive of Huawei. Dependency runs the risk of generating monocultures or cases in which a single company dominates a Canadian organization's infrastructure. In such cases, up to three risks can arise.
First, monocultures can enable foreign governments to leverage dependencies on a vendor to apply pressure in diplomatic, trade or defence negotiations. Second, monocultures can create a path dependency, especially in 5G telecommunications environments, where there's often a degree of vendor lock-in into vendors' telecom equipment. Third, monocultures risk hindering competition among telecommunications vendors, to the effect of increasing capital costs to Canadian telecommunications providers.
One of the benefits of having this committee on Canada-China relations was receiving this type of expert who could explain to us the risks of having business relationships with a company like Huawei. Some will say that it is an independent company. However, the way things work in China, the Chinese communist regime can decide to take control and require Chinese businesses to meet its demands. Even though the company claims to be independent, the regime has full control over all businesses, subject to its whims.
The Liberal government said that it was not worried, that there was no danger, that the communists were not dangerous. I find it really strange that the government would deny being concerned about a regime like the Chinese Communist regime.
Another witness, David Vigneault, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, also appeared before the committee. He said, and I quote:
I will tell you that the Chinese government is indeed engaged in all those activities.... With respect to interference, as I have said publicly, Chinese government entities are interfering with Canadian democratic life. They are interfering with people in Canada using people from China, cyber threats and also people here in Canada, who are co-opted to work with the Chinese government. It's something we are looking into. With China, but also with other countries, we must absolutely keep our guard up, take very concrete steps to protect Canadians and do it in a coordinated way with our allies. It's the only way I believe we can protect Canadians.
It was not me, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles who said that. It was David Vigneault, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who said that in his testimony.
All of this was included in the first version of the committee on Canada-China Relations, whose meetings and studies were unfortunately terminated when the session ended with the 2021 election. We were not even able to write a final report. Our work came to a halt and was never restarted. However, there is still too much information missing that is critical and vital to national security and to economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries. That is why I believe that it is important to resume the work of the committee on Canada-China Relations.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, the target is the Chinese communist political regime. It is certainly not the people, who are too often the victims of this regime.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the opposition day motion that we have before the House with respect to reinstating a committee to look at our country's relationship with China.
I would be remiss not to first mention, during Asian Heritage Month, the more than six million people of Asian heritage who live in Canada and who have enriched our country with their unique cultures, languages and traditions. Asian Canadians have made countless contributions to Canada in medicine, music, literature and business, and I could go on. Asian Canadians have blessed Canada and added to the incredible richness of our diverse and wonderful country.
I hope they have already been mentioned today, but if not I will mention some noteworthy Asian Canadians and their contributions to our country, such as Douglas Jung, the first Chinese Canadian MP; another proud Asian Canadian, Bev Oda, the first Japanese Canadian MP; and a friend of mine, Nelly Shin, the first Korean Canadian MP. All of them have one terrific thing in common: They are all Conservatives.
There is an interesting nexus, when I talk about the contribution of these folks. While we talk about the need for this committee, I will say that Ms. Shin, a former hon. member of this place, and several colleagues and candidates were targeted in the most recent election by agents of the Chinese Communist Party. They were subjected to an organized campaign of disinformation and misinformation, perpetrated on Canadian soil and online platforms in an attempt to destabilize the community, and in particular to punish some Asian Canadians, such as Ms. Shin and Mr. Kenny Chiu, for having the courage to speak out against the communist regime in China.
Not only does the CCP target MPs of all parties; it also targets students and new Canadians with threats, harassment and intimidation. This is one of the reasons why this committee is so important. This committee did a great job in the last Parliament of looking at all aspects of the relationship between Canada and China. I would note one of the reasons why this committee's creation has not been pressed to this point is because of the limited lack of resources that we have in the House of Commons and the emerging opportunity that comes with the programmed wind-up of the special committee on Canada and Afghanistan.
In the context of the resources that we have, it would be good to engage the House resources and members of the House on this committee. I have heard in the debate today, which I have been listening to, thoughtful comments from all sides of the House. Does the committee undermine the work of other standing committees, such as the foreign affairs committee? I would have to say no, because those committees are seized with other important issues and their agendas are full through June, when they are busy getting reports prepared, but also through the fall. This issue of Canada's relationship with China, and with the government of China, is a big one. It is incredibly important.
I want to talk about a couple of reasons it is so important. I would be remiss not to mention the contrast between Canada and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The contrast is this: Those four countries have all identified a national security risk from Huawei, a company that is effectively controlled by the Communist Party of China, and has banned it from their 5G networks. Those four countries have a particular relevance to Canada, because they are our partners. They are our allies in the Five Eyes partnership.
The focus of that partnership is national security and the sharing of information. We have a consensus forming with four of the five, but the government has not taken action with respect to that. Based on the evidence that we have seen out of those other countries and what we have heard in this country, even at the special committee on Canada-China relations in its previous iteration, which is that we need to ban Huawei from our 5G network, it speaks to the larger issue of Canada's relationship with China.
We have heard comments and questions from other members about previous engagement with China under previous governments. We have heard testimony at committee that the reality, the global picture and the actors within the CCP are very different today than they were even a few years ago. If decisions were taken in previous years that some members in this place feel should be re-examined, as I have just outlined with respect to a decision on Huawei, this is all the more reason why members in this place should see this motion passed.
Speaking of the issue of information technology, the involvement in our ever-evolving and growing digital world by companies with an interest controlled out of Communist China, I would hearken people back to a time when, in Ottawa, we had a very proud IT sector and a globally recognized company that was on the cutting edge of IT. It was a huge employer: Nortel Networks. Nortel Networks, we know, fell victim to infiltration and theft of intellectual property by agents of the Government of China. It had devastating effects on IP in Canada, devastating effects on employment and, frankly, devastating effects on that sector in this country.
I also should note that the House has recognized, and that the world is waking up to, a reality that I do not think we have talked about before. It speaks to the need to further magnify the role that China is taking, and what business we want to do with that country. It is the ongoing genocide perpetrated by the Communist government in China against the Uighurs and Turkic Muslims. We cannot turn a blind eye to that. This should colour much of our relationship and potential future dealings with China.
We know that with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, China has signalled a very close relationship with Russia, and a comprehensive strategic partnership. Mr. Putin described it as “a relationship that probably cannot be compared with anything else in the world”. That should send chills up and down the spines of people around the world, and certainly of all members of this place.
I have to mention that we saw, in the last Parliament, the effects of having state agents operating in this country: Foreign agents were operating in this country. We saw that with the Winnipeg labs. State actors from China were being expelled from this country. We saw much drama in this place. Precedents were set. Actions were taken that had not been taken in 100 years. We were looking for truth and transparency for Canadians.
There is more work to be done, and I think it is so important when we live more in this global society, that we have our eyes wide open about who our partners are, who are friends are, who our allies are, where there are risks and where there are threats. We can do that while being respectful of the important contributions of Asian Canadians and Chinese Canadians, and of Chinese people who want to come to Canada, live here and contribute to our wonderful country.
However, we cannot be strong on the world stage without first knowing the fullness of our relationship with the CCP here at home, and that is why the Canada-China committee must be reconvened.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I appreciate this opportunity to participate in today's debate. Canada has a deep and long-standing relationship with China, and even in difficult moments, we can and must work together to resolve these differences.
That being said, this motion takes a narrow view of Canada's potential in the region, and I would like to speak to the potential here for Canada's future. Our government is prioritizing the Indo-Pacific and developing a whole-of-government approach to the entire region. This is not just a strategy for one region of the world, but a strategy for Canada that will impact our peace and prosperity for decades to come.
Now more than ever, there is a need to reinforce the rules-based international order globally, including with partners in the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific does not only refer to geography. It also refers to the growing interdependence of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions, as well as the important role Canada and our allies play in this region as a whole.
I will put this into context. The Indo-Pacific region is home to 21 of the world's 30 largest cities and 60% of the world's population. Indo-Pacific shipping lanes carry no less than one-third of the world's bulk cargo and at least two-thirds of the world's oil. It is also home to 30% of the world's least fortunate people, and countries in the Indo-Pacific will require an estimated $26 trillion for infrastructure by 2030.
There are also significant global climate change impacts that must be addressed. Fifty-three per cent of global CO2 emissions originate from the Indo-Pacific region. No region will be more important to Canada's interests than the Indo-Pacific. As the prosperity, security and well-being of Canadians becomes increasingly linked to the Indo-Pacific region, Canada is deepening our partnerships and expanding our engagement in the region. We know economies across the region continue to grow quickly.
At the same time, many countries in the region face important challenges in matters of governance, equity, human rights and the rule of law. The region is also, by a wide margin, Canada's top source of new immigrants and students. This is a pattern that over time has made Canadians of Asian origin this country's largest diaspora. In fact, half of Canada's foreign-born population is from the region, and 18% of all Canadians trace their heritage to the Indo-Pacific. On education, more than 60% of our foreign students come from the Indo-Pacific region.
This motion is unnecessary and would simply lead to ostracism and discrimination toward Canadians of Chinese descent, given the shameful rhetoric that continues to be pushed. We know Canada must engage in the Indo-Pacific with an approach that continues to advance trade and economic objectives while also protecting our security interests, defending a rules-based international order, advancing sustainable development goals and fighting climate change.
The region faces challenges that Canada can play a co-operative and supportive role in addressing, such as geopolitical shifts, pandemic management, socio-economic pressures and a disproportionate share of climate change impacts. A climate stable planet also depends on a low-carbon transition in the Indo-Pacific, as over 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions originate there, and this share continues to rise.
The Indo-Pacific also presents opportunities for Canadians. It is the fastest-growing region in the world and likely to make up over half of the global GDP by 2040. I believe taking advantage of these dynamic trade opportunities in the Indo-Pacific will create jobs across Canada. As a Pacific-facing nation, Canada seeks to support economies in the Indo-Pacific to achieve their goals and advance shared priorities.
Like many of our partners, we will promote a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific trade with ASEAN at its core. Canada is committed to keeping democratic values, the rule of law, good governance and human rights at the centre of our foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific. Doing so is the key to working with like-minded governments in support of common values and principles.
In advancing these values, we continue to diversify our engagement with countries and partners. This involves work on all fronts, including diplomacy, security, trade, economics and sustainable development.
Diplomatically, we will work closely with our friends and partners to uphold the rules-based international order and promote inclusive and open regional governance, and key norms and values, as well as open societies, accountable governance and human rights that underpin Canada's approach to global governance.
Likewise, we recognize the need to reinforce our active support for Indo-Pacific regional security and stability in concert with our like-minded partners to ensure that the future security environment is favourable to Canada's interests and those of our friends and allies in that region.
Economically, while the region was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains a critical hub for trade, investment and production, with important supply chains originating and flowing through it. Canada will continue to promote and support business opportunities and to secure productive investment while fostering a more open, predictable and sustainable regional economic order. As a concrete example of our commitment to deepening commercial ties with the region, Canada has launched free trade agreement negotiations with ASEAN. This marks a significant milestone in the deepening of Canada's economic partnership and engagement across the Indo-Pacific.
Sustainable development is fundamental to Canada's aspirations in the region to strengthen governance and the rule of law.
Aligned with our feminist international assistance policy, Canada will remain engaged as an active supporter of the Indo-Pacific in its efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals. No region will be more consequential than the Indo-Pacific in shaping our ability to meet and exceed global commitments and targets on climate change. Few other regions are more vulnerable to rising oceans, changing weather patterns and natural disasters.
Our government is prioritizing a comprehensive approach to the Indo-Pacific region, which will guide our foreign policy for the next decade. We are going to give Canadians a seat at the table, protect our interests and do it together with our partners and friends, both old and new.
Madam Speaker, it is great to speak to this motion and to be in the House this afternoon.
First off, May is Asian Heritage Month, a time to reflect on and recognize the many contributions that Canadians of Asian heritage have made and continue to make to this blessed country that we call home, Canada.
This year also marks 20 years since Canada officially declared May as Asian Heritage Month, and with this year's theme, “Continuing a Legacy of Greatness”, we highlight the rich and varying contributions made by generations of Canadians of Asian descent in Canada, and everything they have overcome. We continue to have a responsibility to come together, from coast to coast to coast, to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms.
During this month we have an opportunity to learn about the many different Asian cultures and communities through the arts, films, literature and beyond. I know the city of Vaughan is home to a very vibrant Asian Canadian community. I interact with them on a daily basis. Whether they are from Vietnam, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong or elsewhere, it is great to learn about their heritage and culture and how they enrich the social fabric of this country.
With respect to today's motion, brought forth by the official opposition, I want to provide my personal view on Canada's relationship with China. I view it in terms of three principles: We compete in global markets; we collaborate when the opportunity presents itself, and we must challenge the Chinese government when our values conflict with its actions and values. Those three Cs, as I call them, competition, collaboration and challenge, are something I feel very strongly about.
I would also say that I look to the words of someone who I have a deep respect for, not only in his current capacity as the prime minister of Italy, but in his former capacity as the president of the European Central Bank. Last year, at a G7 meeting, he noted with respect to China, and this really represents my view, “It’s an autocracy that does not adhere to multilateral rules and does not share the same vision of the world that the democracies have. We need to cooperate but we also need to be frank about things that we do not share and do not accept. The U.S. president said that silence is complicity.”
That is my personal view when I think about the Canada-China relationship. Yes, there is competition and collaboration, but we must also challenge and always stand up for the values we in Canada have with respect to minority rights, human rights, the rule of law, democracy and, yes, multilateral institutions.
I will now move on to my formal remarks. I will be highlighting human rights in my remarks this afternoon.
The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada's foreign policy and will continue to guide our government's engagement with China. Canada is deeply concerned about the ongoing repression and targeting of ethnic minorities and religious and vulnerable groups in China, including the Tibetan Buddhists, the Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, women and girls, and members of the LGBTI community. Canada has consistently called on China to uphold its international commitments to protect and promote the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of religion or belief of all Chinese citizens.
Canada is also concerned about the ongoing efforts by Chinese authorities to curtail media freedom in China and Hong Kong, where there have been increasing obstacles for independent reporting, including censorship, visa restrictions, intimidation and even imprisonment affecting journalists. Canada has raised these issues bilaterally with the pertinent Chinese government individuals at all levels. Canada has also raised the human rights situation in China on numerous occasions at the UN, including before the UN Human Rights Council and at the UN General Assembly.
For instance, on June 22, 2021, at the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Canada led a joint statement on behalf of 44 countries regarding the human rights situations in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.
Canada is also proud to have launched, in 2021, the “Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations”, which has been endorsed by over 65 countries. This is a commitment of Canada's resolve to uphold the rules-based international order and the core principles and values that underpin it.
At a time when many are questioning the future of multilateralism, and of diplomacy altogether, Canada is committed to showing up and playing an active role in shaping the norms and engaging the institutions that underpin our global community. However, we know that only so much can be changed in the halls of power. Absent the voices of those being oppressed, change cannot last, nor can our policies be effective.
That is why we continue to engage directly with diaspora communities, activists, civil society, journalists and human rights defenders. Without their expertise and without their bravely sharing their stories with the world, including online, human rights violations and abuses would be swept under the rug. They are how the world knows about crackdowns on freedom of assembly and suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, including the recent arrest of a Catholic cardinal, I believe, which Canada has spoken out against, alongside our international partners. For instance, on May 9, 2022, the G7 foreign ministers issued a joint statement on the selection process of the chief executive in Hong Kong, underscoring our grave concern over this process as a part of a continued attempt at assault on political pluralism and fundamental freedoms.
The mounting evidence of a systemic campaign of repression in Xinjiang cannot be ignored. In Xinjiang, there is substantial, credible evidence that documents masked arbitrary detentions of Uighur and other Muslim ethnic minorities, directed by the central and regional Chinese governments under the false pretext of countering terrorism and violent extremism. Evidence provided by academics, NGOs, human rights defenders and journalists and the testimony of victims show that Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities face cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, obligatory patriotic and cultural education, forced labour, and arbitrary, forced separation of children from their parents by authorities. Throughout this region, Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities also face repressive physical and digital surveillance. It is unacceptable.
Our government is also deeply disturbed by the recent reports from victims of sexual violence at the hands of the authorities in Xinjiang. Canada condemns these dehumanizing acts in the strongest terms. We stand with victims and survivors, and call on all governments to seek justice and hold the perpetrators to account.
Canada also remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation affecting Tibetans, including the restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and the protection of linguistic and cultural rights. In the 21st century, there is no excuse to be unaware of these issues.
Canada is committed to engaging unilaterally as well as alongside our partners to advocate for the human rights of those individuals, those citizens in China. We will continue to call for unfettered access to Xinjiang for international independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and to work closely with Canadian firms doing business in or with China to help them understand and mitigate the risks of doing business with entities possibly implicated in unspeakable forced labour.
We will continue to oppose China's persecution and prosecution on the basis of religion or belief, including for Muslims, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists and the Falun Gong. We will continue to support restored respect for civil and political rights in Hong Kong, in line with the legally binding joint declaration signed by China and the United Kingdom, which Canada has continually called on since 2018, including through joint statements with G7 and Five Eyes partners.
We will also continue to oppose the death penalty and undertake clemency interventions in all cases of Canadians facing execution in China. Canada will continue to call for the abolition of the death penalty internationally. A Canadian is a Canadian, regardless of the position taken by a foreign government. Canada will stand up for Canadian citizens' consular rights, even when the Chinese do not recognize these rights.
Canadians expect their government to stand up against injustices around the world, and this is exactly what our government is doing. As elected officials, let us bear this spirit in mind and work together in our fight for human rights and the rule of law. Canada will always engage with China in our own interests. There remain areas of pragmatic co-operation between our two countries, such as on climate change or the global fight against COVID-19. The path forward must include coordination with our partners, and Canada will work with others to hold the Chinese government accountable for its international obligations and to defend the rules-based international order.
Finally, Canada will continue its collaboration in pursuit of national interests. We will also vigorously defend our values and our principles of democracy and human rights, and we will protect the security of Canadians at home and abroad.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from .
We are here today to talk about the creation of a parliamentary committee to look at the relationship between Canada and the People's Republic of China. This is a very important issue, given that China is a major player, to say the least, both economically and in terms of national security, the environment, and so forth. That is why we want a parliamentary committee to look into this.
Why should such a parliamentary committee be created? A parliamentary committee is independent from the executive. This makes it independent from the Office of the Prime Minister, which can give orders to his members. In a parliamentary committee, all members are theoretically independent from the executive.
Some may be wondering why we are using an opposition day to talk about this. The reason is that this is how to go about creating a committee. We could have come to an agreement with the government party to create this committee, but unfortunately, the government party refuses to create it.
The Conservative Party believes that this is important. The way to create this committee is to have a vote in the House. Every member will be able to vote freely. We shall see what the result of the vote is, but we assume members will vote in favour of creating a committee.
I remind members that the proposed committee will study many matters presently affecting Canadians: the economy, national security, the environment and the supply chain. The issue with supply chains directly affects our producers and our economy and has a direct impact on inflation, which affects all Canadians. We support creating this committee, which will address issues that affect or are of concern to all Canadians.
I also remind members that this committee already existed in the former Parliament, that is before the very arrogantly triggered an election in the midst of the pandemic. The committee met over 30 times to hear from more than 100 witnesses. The committee tabled three reports after studying matters that were damaging for China, but very important to Canada. I—