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Ivison: Justin Trudeau, China and the death of free trade

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This week, John Ivison is joined by fellow National Post columnists Terry Glavin and Sabrina Maddeux, to discuss the geopolitical realignment in response to the rise of China.

The Biden Administration is attempting to isolate China through protectionist legislation like the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, which blend subsidies and export controls. The founder of the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer, Taiwan’s TSMC has called this the death of free trade and globalization.

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Glavin says he hopes that is the case. “You can’t have free trade with a police state.”

He says Canada has been obliged to reverse course. “We were well on our way to fulfilling Justin Trudeau’s dream of integrating the Canadian and Chinese economies when Xi Jinping began to show his fangs.”

Maddeux says the U.S. is justified in its latest measures. “The U.S. has an advantage in intellectual property for the next generation of chips and AI, and it has got to protect that. It was an important step.”

China’s domestic woes and Xi’s isolation on the world stage appear to have prompted a softening of the more aggressive tactics Beijing has employed in recent years.

“The state was using COVID to test its capacity to control the lives of people down to the minutia….it pushed people to their limits,” Glavin says of the eruption of protests in recent weeks.

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Xi is realizing he has “screwed up” at home and abroad, Glavin says.

The Chinese leader was relatively friendly with many world leaders at the recent G20 meeting in Bali. Except, that is, with Trudeau. “It’s quite clear that the senior leadership of the Communist Party of China hold Justin Trudeau in contempt and that’s not going to change,” Glavin says.

Yet, despite all the activity at the political level, there appears to have been little change in two-way trade, with the Chinese claiming that exports from Canada have increased by 34 per cent in the first 11 months of this year – more than any other country bar Russia.

“Until there is some real risk for companies, in terms of profitability, public relations or legal reasons, that won’t change,” says Maddeux.


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