Panel event discusses Wanzhou’s arrest & impact of Second Cold War on Chinese-Canadians

Event poster for the webinar.

Event poster for the webinar.

Event poster for the webinar.

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Written by: Daniel Xie

On March 1, World Beyond War hosted a panel discussing the arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wangzhou and the implications. The event, titled “The Arrest of Meng Wanzhou & the New Cold War on China”, was organized by the Cross-Canada Campaign to FREE MENG WANZHOU and is sponsored by not just World Beyond War, but also the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, the Canadian Peace Congress, Just Peace Advocates, and the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War. 

The event was moderated by Radhika Desai, Professor at the Department of Political Studies at the University of Manitoba, and director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group.

John Ross, a former economic advisor to past London Mayor Ken Livingstone, begun by discussing the growth of Huawei to its current position as the world’s largest telecommunications company. The successful growth of Huawei, Ross notes, was not because Huawei engaged in the data theft it had been accused of, but rather because of: its superior corporate policies, superior personnel, as well as it’s increased revenue to fund research and development due to it being a cooperative where the shareholders are their workers.

Both Ross and William Dere, documentary filmmaker and author of "Being Chinese in Canada, The Struggle for Identity, Redress and Belonging", noted in their panels that the US has been seeking to drive wedges between Huawei and prospective clients within the Five Eyes Network. This was carried out through the spreading of trumped-up charges of Huawei being a security threat to its allies and taking actions to halt Huawei operations wherever possible. Already, Britain and Australia have banned Huawei from operating within their borders. While Canada has yet to ban Huawei, the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in compliance with American orders, Ross notes, was tied to American efforts to impede the growth of Huawei.

Ross noted that the Chinese people are closely following Canada’s decision regarding Huawei, and that action against Huawei cause irreparable damage to Canadian-Chinese relations. The severing of diplomatic ties to China will have negative effects with regards to the economy of Canada and the countries that followed the US into the Second Cold War against China. This is because telecommunications will be less affordable and access to 5G technology will come at a much later date. 

The rise of Huawei, according to Dere, coincides with the rise of China as a great power in the 21st century. China came out of 2008 in good shape even as the west declined. The rise of China signified to the Western powers that China would resist efforts to make China an appendage to American hegemony, and was the basis for Obama’s pivot to Asia along with continued aggression against China during the Trump and Biden administrations. 

Canada has been a part of military efforts to contain China; joining the US in naval exercises in Taiwan, and also used the threat of China as a pretext to spend on new frigates and warplanes. Internally, the Canadian government has arrested Meng Wanzhou in accordance with the warrant placed on her by the US government of supposedly circumventing sanctions against Iran.

Dere stated that China has developed 5G technology as a means to stand up to the growing encirclement carried out by the US and its allies, while also building a multipolar alternative to American hegemony through the Belt and Road Initiative. BRI is a global infrastructure project to provide aid to Global South countries seeking geopolitical alternatives to the US. 

While Western governments have painted the measures taken by China in expanding its global influence as totalitarian, the government enjoys significant support among the Chinese population; this was highlighted by Harvard surveys from 2003-2016 that found that 80% of the Chinese people trust their government. In 2016, the confidence levels in the government rose to 95.5%. 

The continued rise of China as a superpower will not be blunted by efforts to ban Huawei. According to Ross, while the economies of America and its allies shrunk, China’s economy has only strengthened thanks to the Chinese government’s effective handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, combined with its eradication of absolute poverty in 2020. Even if the Five Eyes all ban Huawei, Ross believes that the rest of the world will not give up on the benefits brought upon by Huawei: especially in the global south, where many countries rely on the telecommunications services and infrastructure by Huawei.

The Second Cold War and the growth of Sinophobia against Chinese-Canadians

Panelists also examined the impact the Second Cold War has on worsening Sinophobia in Canada; this topic being primarily discussed by William Dere in his speech. Dere, in his speech, discussed the evolution of Sinophobia in Canada from the development of the “Yellow Peril” stereotypes by Colonial powers to justify the attempted colonization of China, to the excursion of Chinese immigrants into Canada following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway first with the head tax, and then with the Chinese Immigration Act banning all Chinese immigration to Canada. 

According to Dere, the onset of the Second Cold War has allowed previously existing “Yellow Peril” stereotypes to reemerge in full force within Canadian society. This resurgent Sinophobia is fueled by the spread of anti-Chinese narratives pertaining to the presence of Chinese companies on Canadian soil such as Huawei, the trumped up charges against Meng Wanzhou, along with the demonization of China’s COVID-19 recovery efforts by Canada, the US, and their allies. 

A consequence of the demonization of China in the context of growing Sinophobia is growing violence and hate crimes directed against Chinese-Canadians. These hate crimes have increased by 700% across Canada in 2020, and it coincided with greater hate crimes against South Asians and Indigenous peoples. 

As these hate crimes continue to increase, Chinese-Canadians are having their loyalty questioned within Canadian society; a key incident of this was Conservative MP Derek Sloan accusing health minister Theresa Tam of not being loyal towards the Canadian government, this accusation from Sloan inferring that Chinese-Canadians are more loyal to the Chinese government. Similar suspicions were also laid against Chinese-Canadians by CSIS, whom Dere noted to be spreading false narratives about Chinese agents infiltrating Canadian society.

While CSIS, along with conservatives such as Derek Sloan have played a major role in fanning the flames of Sinophobia, Dere notes that left leaning progressives within the Parliament are not blameless themselves with regards to the spread of Sinophobia. He noted that both the NDP and the Greens have backed anti-China narratives surrounding Xinjiang and Hong Kong; while entertaining the idea that Canada, not China, should host the next Olympic games. 

The way forward in the face of the massive push for a Sinophobic-enabling Second Cold War by the Canadian government and even opposition parties, Dere states, is to form a massive peace movement to both stand up against Sinophobic racism and the spread of anti-Chinese and New Cold War narratives fueling Sinophobic rhetoric.

Assessing Canada’s place in a “post-Imperialist” World Order:  

Discussions then shifted following Dere’s panel to a discussion on the hypocrisy of Canada accusing China of genocide on dubious grounds when it has perpetuated genocide in the past against it’s own indigenous peoples with much clearer evidence. According to Justin Podur, author of several books including America's Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo, Siegebreakers: Canada, representing a continuation of British imperialist mentality, has been guilty of cultural genocide against indigenous peoples even as it accuses China of these crimes on shaky grounds. 

Podur notes that Canada was responsible for the perpetration of famine against indigenous peoples, and have also force fed indigenous peoples against their will; said incident leading to the deaths of many indigenous peoples. Even to this day, Podur notes, we have tried to cover up our responsibility in these crimes despite empty promises of truth and reconciliation, while perpetuating continued injustices against indigenous peoples.    

The rise of China, to Podur, represents a challenge to continued imperialist hegemony. He recommends that in response to the rise of China, Canada should, rather than fight China, embrace the new “post-Imperialist” multipolar world unfolding through China’s rise by embracing “post-imperialist” sociopolitical values. 

This could be achieved through pushing for policies fostering genuine truth and reconciliation with their indigenous peoples. This assessment was agreed upon by Dere, whom stated that rather than propagate dubious anti-China narratives, progressive and left-leaning parties in Canada should both try to research and understand what is actually happening in Xinjiang and China, while fighting human rights violations at home against indigenous peoples.

Towards a Peace Movement Opposing the New Cold War on China

World Beyond War’s event clearly exposes the negative impact of the Second Cold War in Canada. In spreading anti-Chinese narratives and complying to US arrest warrants, Canada has made 5G telecommunications less accessible for its own citizens while also fanning the flames of Sinophobia against Chinese-Canadians. In response to the growing Sinophobia and calls for a new Cold War, it is high time that the Canadian Left stop adhering to Sinophobic narratives, demand the release of Meng Wanzhou and the restoration of beneficial diplomatic relations with China.

Further reading:

The Strange Rise of the Sinophobic Epoch Times 

Hong Kong Reading List

What Does Critique Do? — On the Critical Predation of China 

Xinjiang: A Report and Resource Compilation

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This post was originally published on Articles - The Canada Files.

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