The Legault government initiates a reflection on Quebec-China relations

MONTREAL – The Legault government is considering Quebec-China relations, following the country’s detention of two Canadians.

China, where Quebec has opened four offices, has become one of the province’s main trading partners.

China’s detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig was likely in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

The detention, which lasted more than 1,000 days, cast a shadow over relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

At the end of a saga described by several experts as “hostage diplomacy”, the two men were released on September 25. This was around the same time that Meng Wanzhou was able to return to China, after being placed under house arrest in Vancouver at the behest of Washington, who suspected her of bank fraud.

Quebec has not taken a position on the subject since, but “with what happened, it is certain that there is a reflection to be made”, declared Wednesday to The Canadian Press the Minister of International Relations. Nadine Girault.

“We are looking for how to adjust our strategy with China, what to do with it, how to position ourselves from there,” she added, adding that Quebec would also take into account the future position of the Canadian government.

Recovering from a back injury for a month, Girault resumed his activities this week.

She said she had not yet had time to review the Quebec-China file since returning to the office, but intended to look into it “in the next few days.”

That same evening, Girault issued a written statement clarifying its position.

“It is unacceptable for a country to arbitrarily detain foreign nationals. Our strategy has not changed, since respect for human rights and democracy are fundamental values ​​that have always guided Quebec’s international action, including in China, ”she wrote. committing to keep “open channels of communication, in order to express our concerns and reiterate Quebec’s position.

Quebec currently has four representations in China: in Beijing, Shanghai, Quingdao and Shenzhen.

China is the province’s second largest export market, far behind the United States. The Americans still represent 70% of Quebec’s exports, while the Chinese take 5%.

China mainly depends on Quebec for its supply of iron, pork, flight simulators, helicopters and airplanes.

Quebec also welcomes several thousand Chinese students each year.

The government is also preparing a trade strategy for the greater Asia-Pacific region, including China, details of which are expected to be known shortly.

–This story was first reported by The Canadian Press on October 6, 2021.

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