It’s hard to imagine just how much trust (albeit passive and implicit rather than deep and heartfelt) has evaporated in the last few weeks. Following the release of the Huawei charges, here’s something on the implications for foreign businesses, notably in China – and for ‘How screwed is’ Huawei itself.
Unless you’ve seriously not been paying attention, you will know that Vancouver-based former Hong Kong reporter Joanna Chiu got a scoop confirming that Canada’s ambassador to China John MacCallum seemed to be siding with Beijing over the Huawei affair – promptly getting the guy fired. Had the diplomat succumbed to the United Front’s ‘good friend’ grooming treatment and become something of a Beijing asset? Here’s regretful/hilarious hand-wringing about journalistic ethics from China’s state media to help you decide.
The Star called around other ex-diplomat types, who openly said that ‘Beijing views foreign diplomats as outgoing communication channels’. The thing is that, until so recently it was largely and quietly getting away with it (ditto with businessmen and academics).
Now, one commentator describes the Huawei saga as Canada’s wake-up call. He also writes that ‘In detaining Kovrig … the CCP has shot itself in the foot’, adding that prospects for a Canada-China free-trade agreement and an extradition treaty are now zero.
China has for years generally cultivated good relations with Canada. Canadians pride themselves on being ‘nice’ and a tolerant country, but presumably do not like it if their good-naturedness is mistaken for gullibility or servility. And now Beijing has blown it, rejecting any chance of claiming moral high ground, and indulging in its bizarre and massively uncool tantrum of hostage-taking and near-racist insults.
If you can piss off Canadians like this, is there any hope for you with the rest of the world? Expand the impact of this remarkably sudden outbreak of obnoxiousness across the rest of the English-speaking democracies and Europe, and Beijing has managed to transform itself – and its corporate sector – into a ‘global menace’. And still doesn’t seem to even be aware of it.