The Current

'We need China more than they need us': Canada's options limited for quelling tensions with Beijing

Our political panel weighs in on the latest twists and turns in Canada's corridors of power, including tensions with China, and developments in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Chinese court sentenced a Canadian to death on international drug charges

Canada-China relations are back in the spotlight with the news of a Canadian citizen being sentenced to death in a Chinese court. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

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Canada is trapped in a catch-22 for calming tensions with China, according to political commentator Martin Patriquin.

"China basically does what it wants. China is an opaque, retaliatory, venal country that, you know, has a lot of weight and throws it around," the Montreal Gazette contributor told Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current.

A Chinese court has handed down several sentences in relation to a global methamphetamine operation, including imposing a death sentence on a Canadian identified as Fan Wei.

The sentence is likely to further strain relations between Canada and China. Canada arrested Chinese Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou last December at the request of the U.S., and China has since detained two Canadians and delayed some Canadian exports in what many see as acts of retaliation.

"We're talking about a country that uses [the] death penalty as a political tool," Patriquin said.

"When you're dealing with a country like that there's very, very little you can do if you don't bend to their will."

Tensions between Canada and China, widely seen as fallout from the Huawei arrest, continue to heat up as China expands its blocks on Canadian imports from canola oil to soy beans, peas and pork.

(Saša Petricic/CBC)

Patriquin cautions that China can continue to "go down the list" of Canadian products to choke off until they get what they want.

"We need China more than they need us, and they can they can really, really hurt us a lot more than they are right now," he explained.

To discuss the latest from Canada's corridors of power, Tremonti was joined by The Current's weekly political panel:

  • Katie Simpson, senior reporter with CBC News covering federal politics.
  • Kady O'Malley, freelance parliamentary correspondent who writes for iPolitics.
  • Martin Patriquin, a Montreal writer and commentator who contributes to various outlets including, the Montreal Gazette and The Walrus.
Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Written by Émilie Quesnel with files from CBC News. Produced by Idella Sturino.


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