A New and More Dangerous World

Policy - - In This Issue - Col­umn / Don New­man

The world that is emerg­ing from the COVID-19 pan­demic will be a much dif­fer­ent place than we have been used to, and Canada will have to find a way to man­age in it, let alone thrive in it.

To hold its own in this new world, Canada will need a new at­ti­tude, a new re­al­iza­tion that the world we knew is gone, a new con­fi­dence to con­front and sur­vive the world that is emerg­ing and a new at­ti­tude by the coun­try, the prov­inces and a new type of gov­ern­ment to deal with the new re­al­ity that we will be liv­ing in.

This new world was com­ing even with­out the pan­demic and with­out the dis­as­ter of the elec­tion in 2016 of Don­ald Trump as Pres­i­dent of the United States.

These events did not cre­ate the new world that is emerg­ing, they just helped ac­cel­er­ate the pace of change.

Of equal im­por­tance is the 2018 de­ci­sion of the Peo­ple’s Congress in China to make Xi Jin­ping Pres­i­dent for life. That de­ci­sion con­firmed his stran­gle­hold on power and elim­i­nated the pos­si­bil­ity of course cor­rec­tions go­ing for­ward in China’s as­sertive and dangerous plan to ex­tend its in­flu­ence not only in its sur­round­ing area but also through Africa, Latin Amer­ica and be­yond.

It also put paid to the ar­gu­ment that by help­ing China open up eco­nom­i­cally the coun­try would evolve into some­thing more like western democ­ra­cies and be­come a rules-abid­ing mem­ber of the global econ­omy. That idea was pro­moted by the busi­ness com­mu­nity in both

Canada and more im­por­tantly the United States, who have reaped huge prof­its in the past 30 years by ex­port­ing North Amer­i­can jobs to China and then im­port­ing the prod­ucts those jobs make back here. The au­to­mo­tive sec­tor is just one ex­am­ple.

Well, that idea was just wrong. Now peo­ple who warned that the Chi­nese would use their in­creas­ing eco­nomic might to in­crease their po­lit­i­cal, mil­i­tary and eco­nomic in­flu­ence are be­ing proven right.

Rather than be­come a rules obey­ing mem­ber of the global econ­omy China steals in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, bul­lies its smaller neigh­bours, ig­nores rul­ings that go against it at in­ter­na­tional tri­bunals and has mil­i­ta­rized is­lands in the South China Sea in an ef­fort to con­trol the ship­ping lanes through which 30 per­cent of the world’s trade passes.

This was the state of play when COVID-19 hit. As part of his pledge to bring back jobs to Amer­ica, Pres­i­dent Trump was al­ready en­gaged in a trade war with China. He es­ca­lated ten­sions by la­belling COVID-19 the China virus be­cause it orig­i­nated in Wuhan prov­ince in that coun­try.

Since then, re­la­tions have just grown colder, and even if Trump is de­feated in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion later this year, China and the United States seem des­tined to be in a Cold War that will ri­val the one be­tween the U.S. and the Soviet Union for 45 years af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

This new Cold War will make the world a much harder place. A “for us or against us place.” A less co-op­er­a­tive place and a place where, if coun­tries want to play a role, they will have to step up to both com­pete and co-op­er­ate as the sit­u­a­tion dic­tates.

This is the new world re­al­ity. Cana­di­ans and their gov­ern­ment will have to get used to it. The idea that trade with China was to be the eco­nomic sal­va­tion of the coun­try is gone. New mar­kets in Asia and Europe will have to be de­vel­oped along with a re­asser­tion of our com­mit­ments to our North Amer­i­can trad­ing part­ners.

Once again Canada will have to get se­ri­ous about our mil­i­tary. Pro­cure­ment will have to be stream­lined. Thirty years to re­place ag­ing equip­ment will no longer cut it. Nei­ther will used air­craft from Australia or burnt-out sub­marines from Bri­tain.

It goes with­out say­ing that Huawei will be ex­cluded from our 5 G com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work. Canada will also have to get se­ri­ous about Chi­nese in­flu­ence al­ready in this coun­try. We will have to clam­p­down on Con­fu­cius clubs on Univer­sity cam­puses, treat in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty thefts harshly and warn trav­ellers about the dan­gers of vis­it­ing China, as Michael Kovig and Michael Spavor im­pris­oned there in a harsh Chi­nese hostage diplo­macy ma­neu­ver have found out.

The world is quickly be­com­ing a tougher, more dangerous place. That is the new re­al­ity and Canada has to be ready to com­pete in it.

Colum­nist Don New­man, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Ru­bi­con Strate­gies in Ottawa, is a life­time mem­ber of the Parliament­ary Press Gallery.

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