"The central government of China has asked all provinces to make a list of all the ongoing transactions with Canadian companies and I think it's just another example that they want to build up an inventory of possible targets for future measures directed at Canada," Guy Saint-Jacques told CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
Earlier this year, a Chinese buyer told Gerling that a government inspector had found ants in 34 containers (roughly 680 tonnes) of the Canadian soybeans he shipped there. Such a finding would be rare, since the soybeans were stored in concrete silos in Canada and shipped in sealed containers in late autumn, said Gerling, who concluded the buyer was trying to avoid the new hassles of buying from Canada.
"We know it's the usual playbook of China when they are angry at a country they will take all kinds of measures to penalize this country, and of course, it's very easy for them to request such information from companies," he told host Vassy Kapelos.
Saint-Jacques said he learned of the effort "from a Canadian company that has long been established in China." He said the company's Chinese partners were informed that the request came "from Beijing." CBC News has not been able to independently verify the claim.
Canada has been locked in an escalating diplomatic spat with China for months, following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in December on an extradition request from the United States.
Since the arrest, China has detained two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, blocked Canadian canola shipments from two of Canada's biggest farm exporters and is now reportedly targeting shipments of Canadian soybeans, peas and pork.
First canola, now peas and soybeans — Canadian crops face more headaches getting into China
Saint-Jacques said he sees this new development as a confirmation that the diplomatic dispute with China is worsening and that its time for the Canadian government to take action.
"The Canadian government should announce that Canada will no longer pursue a free trade agreement with China because of this trust that has disappeared," said Saint-Jacques. "I also think we should go to the WTO to file an official charge against China for what they are doing to our canola export."
The Canadian leader introduced Prime Minister Abe claiming it was a “real pleasure” to welcome the Japanese leader in Ottawa for the first time. But Mr Trudeau suffered a slip of the tongue when he accidentally claimed the visit was to celebrate 90 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and China. He said: “What a real pleasure it is to welcome Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Canada for the second time in a year, to Ottawa for the first time of this mandate on the occasion of 90 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and China…”
Beyond those measures, Saint-Jacques said the federal government should put more effort into trade diversification and consider expelling Chinese athletes that are training in Canada for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
But the Canadian Prime Minister made the same mistake minutes later sparking claims Mr Trudeau might have been preoccupied with the worsening relations between his country and China after following the arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December.
As China Blocks Canadian Farm Exports, Ottawa Looking for New Asian Markets
"The government has to take into account that, of course, any measure that we will take will be looked at in Beijing and they will want to apply reciprocity, but again I think the course that has been pursued so far has not produced any result," he said.
"I think we are at the stage where we have to be firm because this is the only language that China understands."
“That stands in stark contrast with the United States withdrawal continuing to move forward on freer more open trade, according to the rules we can all agree on, is something we need more in the world.”
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OTTAWA — Canada is looking for new Asian customers for its canola to answer Chinas ban on many shipments of the product, says International Trade Minister Jim Carr.
The Canadian government is also still pushing China to allow a Canadian delegation to visit the Peoples Republic to verify complaints that Canadian canola is contaminated with pests, Carr said in an interview.
Scheer Demands Trudeau Fire Back Against Chinas Canola Ban
So far, China hasnt agreed to requests for a Canadian delegation to test its unproven concerns. China has rejected Canadian canola-seed shipments in recent months and has suspended the licences of two major Canadian exporters.
The government requested permission on April 1 for inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to visit China, but so far there has been no response.
Bilateral tensions have been running high since China detained two Canadians — actions widely seen as a response to Canada's detention of Meng at the request of the U.S. Trudeau has raised concerns about China's detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, insisting that Beijing's decision to arrest the two Canadians was arbitrary.
The CFIA has twice inspected the shipments in question and found no impurities, Carr told The Canadian Press on Saturday, prior to the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Andrew Scheer demands Canada pull funds from Chinese development bank in retaliation for canola ban
"We want to have a science conversation with the Chinese to verify any allegations that the very high quality Canadian canola has any impurities at all. Were looking to have that proven to us," the minister said. "We will send a high-level delegation as soon as that invitation is sent to us. Meanwhile, its important that we look for other markets for our canola and certainly the Asia-Pacific is among them, including Japan."
Canadian farm exports hit new Chinese obstacles amid diplomatic dispute
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has also written to her Chinese counterparts to press the issue, he added.
Asked if Canada could be facing a broader Chinese boycott, Trudeau attributed the current tensions to a ripple effect generated by trade conflicts between China and the U.S. and said that China's actions toward Canada are "not right."
Asked why he thinks the Chinese have been delaying, Carr replied: "I cant speak for them."
On Monday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pressure China by pulling hundreds of millions of dollars Ottawa has committed to Beijings multilateral development bank.
Canadian politicians have said the concerns are baseless, and noted that China detained two Canadians after Canada arrested an executive of Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in December at the United States' request. China has used nontariff barriers before during diplomatic tensions, most recently against Australian coal.
The Liberal government has committed $256 million over five years to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in the hopes that Canada can help guide its decisions and that Canadian companies will get business from the development projects it promotes. Dozens of countries outside Asia are participants in the bank, from Madagascar to Ireland to Norway.
Scheer also demanded Trudeau take several more-immediate steps, including appointing a new ambassador to China, launching a complaint about the canola dispute with the World Trade Organization and increasing financial support for farmers caught in the crossfire of what has become a broader diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Chinese buyers have cancelled at least 10 cargoes of Canadian canola in the last few weeks, said a Singapore-based trader at a company that runs crushing facilities in China. Some cargoes, around 60,000 tonnes each, have been resold to buyers in Pakistan and Bangladesh at deep discounts, the trader said.
"By doing nothing, this policy of appeasement that Justin Trudeau has pursued with the government in China has clearly not worked," Scheer said.
Increasing tensions with China, a top buyer for most Canadian farm commodities, have forced farmers to plant other crops, such as wheat, that they hope will not face barriers. China bought $2.7 billion worth of Canada's canola and $514 million worth of its pork last year.
Chinas decision to cut off Canadian canola-seed shipments is widely viewed as an attempt to apply economic pressure on Canada following the December arrest of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the United States. China is the usual destination for about 40 per cent of Canadian canola, a major source of oil used for cooking and some industrial purposes.
On Monday of last week, Ottawa said some Canadian pork exporters used an outdated form to certify shipments to China, causing delays. Such issues arise regularly in commodity trading, but rarely with damaging consequences, said Canadian Pork Council spokesperson Gary Stordy.
In the days following Mengs arrest, China arrested two Canadian citizens on allegations of engaging in activities that have endangered Chinese national security. Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, are still being held by Chinese authorities in what the Trudeau government has called arbitrary detentions.
Weeks later, Trudeau fired Canadas former ambassador to China, John McCallum, for going off-script in the governments efforts to win the release of the two men. Before his posting in Beijing, McCallum was a longtime Liberal MP and cabinet minister.
Scheer tried to cast the canola fight as just one example of the Liberals failures on the foreign-policy front.
"Theres been no reaction, there have been no consequences to the government of China for detaining our citizens and blocking our exports," Scheer said.
"I believe that when a country stands up for itself and shows that there are consequences to mistreating our citizens and blocking our exports that that will be when China recognizes that they should not pursue this course of actions."
The Liberal government has established a working group to address the canola issue and asked to send a delegation of experts to China to examine the complaints and says it has been exploring options to provide financial support to farmers.
Trudeau and Abe discussed Canadas ongoing feud with China over the detainees and canola during the Japanese leaders two-day visit to Ottawa over the weekend.
China is "trying to impose its approach on countries around the world. As countries like Japan and Canada continue to engage economically with China we have to deal with some of these challenges," Trudeau said.
Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated since Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request last December. Beijing has detained two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation for Mengs arrest, and escalated the sentence of another Canadian charged with drug trafficking offences to the death penalty.
Canada and Japan are united in their approach to China because of their shared democratic values, and adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights, Abe said.
"We shall have to raise our voices in unity together so that China will go towards a positive, constructive role," said Abe.
Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer walks to the podium for a news conference in Ottawa, Monday April 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canola grower David Reid checks on his storage bins full of last years crop of canola seed on his farm near Cremona, Alta., Friday, March 22, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
Canada is looking for new Asian customers for its canola to answer Chinas ban on many shipments of the product, says International Trade Minister Jim Carr.