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China- Canada’s Relationship: a New Low

The recent expulsion of Chinese and Canadian diplomats is a significant manifestation of strained diplomatic relations, already fragile between the two countries. This escalation in diplomatic tensions not only has consequences on the bilateral relationship, but also on the broader international community. The complex dynamics surrounding the back-and-forth expulsion of diplomats between China and Canada, notably due to leaked spy documents is the result of heightened tension, a maybe inevitable event.

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Historic Partners Turned To Diplomatic Nemesis 

The relationship between China and Canada has historically been marked by diplomatic engagements, cultural exchanges, and economic cooperation. However, recent years have seen a growing strain in their relationship. Disputes over human rights issues, espionage allegations, and trade tensions have contributed to a deterioration in bilateral ties, setting the stage for the expulsion of diplomats. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service alleged that a Chinese diplomat based in Toronto, Zhao Wei, was involved in efforts to intimidate opposition Conservative lawmaker Michael Chong and his family in Hong Kong.  

The expulsion of Chinese and Canadian diplomats as a response can be attributed to a series of incidents and underlying factors. Espionage allegations and concerns over national security have strained relations, leading to a mutual loss of trust. Additionally, human rights issues, particularly related to China’s treatment of its Uighur minority, have been a source of contention. Trade disputes, such as the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and subsequent retaliatory actions, have further exacerbated tensions.

Escalation and Degradation for the Bilateral Relationship

The deterioration of diplomatic relations between China and Canada has been characterized by a series of retaliatory actions. The expulsion of diplomats has been one of the most visible and consequential responses. These actions have resulted in a downward spiral of bilateral engagement, with both countries imposing visa restrictions, implementing diplomatic sanctions, and reducing cooperation in various areas. 

Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa : “We will not be intimidated. We will continue to do everything necessary to keep Canadians protected from foreign interference.”

The expulsion of diplomats has significant implications for the China-Canada relationship. It has further eroded trust between the two nations, making dialogue and cooperation more challenging. Economic ties, including trade and investment, may suffer as a result, affecting both countries’ economies. Cultural exchanges and people-to-people connections are also likely to be impacted, hindering the potential for mutual understanding and collaboration.

Mitigation & Broader Consequences

The expulsion of Chinese and Canadian diplomats also has broader consequences for the international community. It contributes to a climate of increased tension and polarization, impacting global trade, alliances, and multilateral cooperation. Other countries find themselves caught between the competing interests and strained relations, making it challenging to navigate geopolitical dynamics effectively. Finally, it is clear that the bilateral relationship has been strained due to various factors. Therefore, only through sustained efforts can China and Canada work towards a more positive and cooperative relationship in the future, but is it really retrievable and wished by both countries ? 

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