Canadian sovereignty threatened

(Graphic by Steph Truong)

As China rises higher to the peak of worldwide economic prominence, threatening to eclipse even America as the world’s greatest economic superpower, it’s impossible to avoid the implications of the rise of this “sleeping dragon.”

If America is the “elephant next door” to Canada as the oft-repeated saying goes, China is the winged dragon across the sea.

A dragon that is only beginning to come to terms with the immense potential for the power it possesses.

Mitt Romney talked extensively in his campaign about being “tough on China.” He focused on issues of poor economic practices and currency manipulation on China’s part which came to the forefront of America’s debate.

Conversely, the Harper government has been allowing Canada’s sovereignty to be threatened by Chinese interests.

In a recent instance, Huawei, a Chinese tech company that has been blocked from participating in telecommunications projects by the United States and Australia due to its suspected involvement in espionage activities, has been cleared for operation in Canada.

This company has been slated to participate in major Canadian telecommunications projects, despite being linked to Chinese cyber-espionage international computer hacking incidents.

Canada’s intelligence agencies have also warned the government of the company’s activities.

To involve a foreign company with a history of hacking and cyber-espionage blacklisted by other countries in major Canadian telecommunications projects hardly seems advisable.

However, this is hardly the end-all of our government’s potentially dangerous flirtation with the encroachment of Chinese corporate interests upon Canada as of late.

FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, gives Chinese and other foreign corporations the power to sue the Canadian government for enforcing or implementing environmental regulations.

Any policies designed to protect Canadian jobs or Canadian workers would also present grounds for lawsuits.

It essentially cedes sovereignty over Canadian practices on Canadian soil to Chinese companies.

Labour laws could be undermined, and not only could Canadian workers be deprived of jobs on account of the importation of Chinese workers, but these Chinese workers could be working in conditions that circumvent Canadian human rights and labour policies.

I am a believer in the free market, but not when a foreign company is able to overrule the law of the land while operating internationally under another nation’s jurisdiction.

The free market should be contingent on the stipulation of respecting the laws of whatever country business is being done in.

China’s advancement in the worldwide economy is a positive development, as it will allow for an increase of the nation’s GDP per capita and will progressively help create a better quality of life for its citizens, as average incomes grow.

However, this advancement should not come at the cost of Canada or other nations.

China and its corporations should not be allowed to contravene and supersede local and national laws.

Nor should nations allow free reign to companies with an incredibly shady history of illegal activities and espionage.

China’s continued advancement in the worldwide economy should involve playing by the rules, and respecting that the free market should operate within the confines of national law and sovereignty, whenever a company does business in a foreign country.

Ultimately, China itself cannot be blamed for advancing its national interests. It is our government that must be blamed for failing to assert our sovereignty.

Doing business with emerging markets like China may be a positive thing, but only when we still retain the upper hand of enforcing our sovereignty on our own soil.

It is one thing to allow China to commit human rights violations and enact subhuman labour policies under its own sovereignty, but to allow such practices to occur within Canadian soil is an affront to the freedoms that our nation supposedly stands for.

When threats such as cyber-espionage are brought into the equation, and when companies from China or any other nation are allowed free reign to operate according to their own rules on our soil, we cede our sovereignty and surrender our very right to assert and enforce our own laws.

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