Canada launched its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy on Sunday, vowing more resources to deal with a “disruptive” China while working with the world’s second-biggest economy on climate change and trade issues.
The 26-page document outlined C$2.6 billion ($1.9 billion) spending, including boosting Canada’s military presence and cyber security in the region and tightening foreign investment rules to protect intellectual property and prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from snapping up critical mineral supplies.
The blueprint is to deepen ties with a fast-growing region of 40 countries accounting for almost C$50 trillion in economic activity. But the focus is on China, which is mentioned more than 50 times, at a moment when bilateral ties are frosty.
“China is an increasingly disruptive global power,” said the strategy. “China is looking to shape the international order into a more permissive environment for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government wants to diversify trade and economic ties that are overwhelmingly reliant on the United States. Official data for September show bilateral trade with China accounted for under seven per cent of the total, compared to 68 per cent for the United States.
The strategy highlighted Beijing’s “foreign interference and increasingly coercive treatment of other countries”.
Earlier this month Canada ordered three Chinese companies to divest their investments in Canadian critical minerals, citing national security.
The document said Canada would boost its naval presence in the region and “increase our military engagement and intelligence capacity as a means of mitigating coercive behaviour and threats to regional security.
The document said Ottawa was engaging in the region with partners such as the United States and the European Union.