‘Progressive Issues’ in Indo-Pacific Strategy Not Useful for Countries in the Region, Expert Says

‘Progressive Issues’ in Indo-Pacific Strategy Not Useful for Countries in the Region, Expert Says

Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy has pledged to work with allies to ward off threats from authoritarian states in the region, but it still has work to do to prove it’s on track, said an expert at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI ) said.

Stephen Nagy, MLI senior fellow and associate professor at International Christian University, said allies in the Indo-Pacific region may find some elements in Ottawa’s new strategy less relatable or comfortable.

“I think it’s a lot of the progressive themes that have been promoted within the strategy. Frankly, most countries in these regions before the policy was released and after the policy was released did not share these Canadian values. As a result, they don’t see this as a good use of resources in the region,” he said.

Rather, the strategy should focus more on the security challenges of authoritarian states like China and North Korea, Nagy said.

The Indo-Pacific strategy, unveiled by Secretary of State Mélanie Joly last month, envisages $2.3 billion in investments in the region over the next five years, which Nagy said will range from 3, $4 billion pledged to Ukraine by the federal government.

“I think it’s causing a stir in the region how sustainable and significant Canada’s footprint will be with so many more resources being deployed in the region,” he said.

Nagy noted that Canada’s credibility issues are also shaping how allies view its Indo-Pacific strategy.

“What I keep hearing in the region is that we have credibility challenges,” he said, citing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s last-minute withdrawal in 2017 from the comprehensive and progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement , an 11-member trade agreement between countries in the Pacific region.

“I think affiliation, reliability and resources are really key factors to understand how the region sees Canada following the release of the Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Nagy said.

“A weak policy”

Charles Burton, senior fellow at MLI, said he “definitely welcomes” the Indo-Pacific strategy, but said that apart from plans to bolster Canada’s military presence by sending frigates to the region, the strategy is unclear, how to resist China’s “conduct that undermines international norms,” ​​as it has promised.

“It’s weak policy, … it’s mostly full of ambitious statements, not actual actions that our government plans to take,” Burton said during a panel held by the MLI on Dec. 14.

“Nothing specific about things… like a foreign agent registration law, like a strong statement of support for Taiwan, like some determination, Chinese diplomats who are coordinating harassment and interference activities in Canada, or who are coordinating the major spy program, persona non grata to declare against dual-use military technologies from our universities.”

Burton’s comments were in response to recent reports that China has at least five secret police agencies in Canada among more than 100 such outposts in 53 countries around the world. According to studies conducted by Spain-based NGO Safeguard Defenders, some of the police stations may be involved in harassment and intimidation aimed at expatriate Chinese nationals and human rights defenders. He also referenced Beijing’s alleged interference in Canada’s 2019 federal election by providing funding to at least 11 candidates, according to a Nov. 7 Global News report.

However, Burton acknowledged the strategy’s indication that Ottawa is preparing to strengthen China savvy in government and that it stands ready to work with other like-minded allies to develop a common approach towards China, which it called becomes an “increasingly disruptive global power” in the Indo-Pacific strategy.

“I see politics as a promising starting point,” he said.

“I think we’ll end up doing better… than the strategy currently suggests, because there’s a general trend in the world that the liberal West is trying to defend the rules-based international order against China’s very explicit policies, to subvert it and… replace it with what China calls the “community of destiny.” [for] Realign humanity’ and the world economy towards China through the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.”

Andrew Chen

Andrew Chen is a reporter for The Epoch Times in Toronto.

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