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Trudeau should know blaming China can't save declining Canadian democracy

《环球时报·英文版》 2022-11-08

Imagine the leader of a country, which willingly surrenders its sovereignty and right to another nation, is accusing a third country thousands of kilometers away of interfering in its election - how absurd is that!

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is rehashing the so-called Chinese interference in his country's elections. According to Canadian media outlet Global News, he warned Monday that China, among some other countries, is "playing aggressive games" with Canadian democracy and institutions.

Trudeau's remarks clearly echo the US-hyped "China's infiltration" theory. And they come after another Canadian media reported on Sunday that Canada will release a "long-awaited strategy for dealing with China" that will "look to Washington." What the Canadian PM said on Monday proves yet again that Canada's foreign policy, especially that toward China, doesn't fall far from the US'.

In fact, Canada is well aware that the deterioration of relations with its second largest trading partner is hugely damaging to its own interests. But as the US has exerted unprecedented pressure on its allies to keep its alliance system from falling apart, Ottawa has no other choice but to follow Washington's clamors for getting tougher on Beijing.

Xin Qiang, deputy head of the Center for American Studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times that Trudeau's words demonstrate that he is treating China as an imaginary adversary regarding ideology and security. Thus, in his eyes, everything China does now seems to have a hidden purpose, whether to influence his country's politics or to undermine the international order the West dominates.

The Canadian PM is making uncalled-for troubles against China, which is bound to affect bilateral relations. In response to his remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that China has "no interest" in Canada's internal affairs.

China has always treated Canada as a trading partner without having done anything to violate Canada's interests. The two countries used to enjoy a relatively good relationship for a long time. But in recent years, under the increasing pressure and agitation from Washington, Canada has completely taken the US' side. As a result, friction and even conflicts have gradually replaced cooperation and dialogue in China-Canada relations.

In Washington's anti-China choir, Ottawa has become one of the most active members. It not only sings along to US' tune, but also sometimes sings one pitch higher than the US in terms of containing China. But to engage in such a dangerous game as a US pawn, Canada is risking drawing fire to itself.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that in Washington's strategic competition with China, which the former has regarded as its top mission, the price for countries like Canada to become a pawn of any party will be extremely costly.

Canada has the right to determine its foreign policy as a sovereign country. But instead, it has always been subordinate to the US on major security issues. It cannot afford to take a position too different from that of the US, with worries about possible harsh punishment from Washington.

In addition, by accusing Beijing of "playing aggressive games," Trudeau seems to partially make a culprit of falling Western democracy out of China, as young Westerners' confidence in democracy is declining in countries such as the US, the UK and Canada.

Just like the Canadian PM, some Western politicians tend to blame China for everything that goes wrong in their democratic systems in an oversimplified way to avoid any responsibility. They do not see the root cause of the decay of Western democracy, much less bother to do so. "Justin knows he is going to lose the next election and needs someone other than himself to blame," one Chinese-Canadian netizen argued on Twitter.

According to Xin, Western democracy's increasing fragility comes from within. "The polarization of politics, the unreasonable, severe partisan struggle, and the ineffectiveness of governance have torn up Western society and created more confrontations," he said.

Instead of blindly following the US to blame China, politicians like Trudeau should ask themselves what really poses a threat to Western democracy. Without genuine self-reflection, shifting the blame to others will never help save the already shattering Western democracy.