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Experts want a plan to deploy the Indo-Pacific strategy


OTTAWA –

Opposition parties and geopolitical experts say the Liberal Party’s new Indo-Pacific strategy needs an implementation plan.

The historic strategy released Sunday drew criticism from China’s ambassador to Canada, who criticized it for not meeting the needs of the region, although it was welcomed by industry and many academics. warmly received.

“This is the most substantive strategic document on foreign policy that we have seen from any Canadian government in a long time,” said Roland Paris, a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I would like to know more about how the government will report on whether it has achieved specific goals, and how and if the government is accountable,” he said.

Ministers revealed the government’s priorities for the Indo-Pacific region on Sunday in a strategy they initially promised to publish in autumn 2020.

The strategy promises nearly $2.3 billion in spending over five years, including on commercial and military projects to counter a rising China, and includes the clearest language on the matter. Canada’s way of handling its relationship with Beijing.

But it is not clear how Ottawa will actually achieve its goals because the strategy lacks clear objectives.

While it included funding to hire more diplomats, it did not specify how many, ignoring Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise earlier this month to hire about 60 new positions.

And the only announcement made in a difficult timeline is the plan to deploy a third naval frigate in the region next year.

Paris, director of the Graduate School of International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, said a serious tone and clear priorities would only be achieved if the Liberals provided more details, especially on financial matters. military property.

“This is a zero-sum game, so resources assigned in one place will not be available elsewhere, and I wanted to see how Canada would allocate its scarce resources,” he said. “.

“There are some initiatives out there that make a lot of sense, but that needs a bit more clarification. Like, what exactly is a merchant portal?”

The strategy calls for $24 million to set up some kind of hub to help Canadian businesses find innovation and investment opportunities in the region.

Although details were not specified in the strategy, International Trade Secretary Mary Ng’s office described it on Monday as a physical space that will likely be located in Singapore.

Conservative foreign policy critic Michael Chong says he’s still working on the strategy, but says it will only work if the government follows through on its implementation — something he thinks the government is not good at. when it comes to other foreign policy priorities.

Mr. Chong pointed to a Liberal Party law banning the import of goods produced with forced Uighur labor from Xinjiang, which he said was unlikely to be enforced.

“In many respects, the strategy has come too late. The government is catching up with our democratic allies and partners in the region,” Chong wrote in an email.

He argues that the strategy fails to clarify conflicting comments from Liberal ministers in recent weeks about whether Canada plans to focus its trade on peer-to-peer nations, known as “friends” or maintain trade with autocracies.

He also noted that the strategy does not address the two military alliances Canada has been excluded from, known as the Quad, which includes Australia, India, Japan and the US, and AUKUS, a tripartite pact between Australia, USA and USA. Kingdom.

The NDP said on Monday it supported the strategy’s commitments to diversify trade away from China and strengthen work on climate and human rights.

Critic Heather McPherson said in a statement: “We will fight for Canadians to ensure this is not just another empty promise by the Liberal government.

The Québécois bloc says the strategy is important but it is doubtful that Ottawa will do enough to actually bring it to life.

“Never, in more than 50 years, have we given ourselves the means to achieve our ambitions for the Indo-Pacific region, and nothing in this new document suggests that the federal government will eventually achieve its goal there,” wrote critic Stéphane Bergeron in French.

In a Monday speech scheduled before the date for the Liberal Party’s strategy announcement was made public, Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu told the University of Ottawa students that the Canadian government should stop arresting the government. imitate the US and counter the Cold War mentality.

“Unfortunately, it seems that Canada has followed the US practice of creating division and inciting confrontation in the region,” Cong said.

“When it comes to China, it distorts the facts (and) exaggerates the so-called threat from China and infringes on China’s internal affairs. We firmly oppose that.”

Cong said China offers an opportunity for economic growth and human development, and he argued that Canada is siding with the US approach that will only threaten global stability.

“In essence, it tries to turn the Asia-Pacific countries into pawns for American hegemony, tries to raise tensions to mess up the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “.

“This kind of baseless and pointless accusation is really not conducive to our future cooperation.”

Journalists are allowed to attend the speech but are prohibited from filming the speech. During the speech, a curtain was lowered over a window to block the view of a campus protest over China’s treatment of Uighurs.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 28, 2022.

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