Experts: No fear of retaliation – yet
VANCOUVER — Fears of retaliation against China-based staff of Canadian companies in the wake of a Chinese tech exec’s arrest in Canada are overblown at the moment, but experts say that could change if the situation escalates.
Meng Wanzhou, CFO of
Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies, was arrested at Vancouver’s airport while in transit on Dec. 1. and faces extradition to the United States on unspecified charges.
Chinese officials have demanded her release, and the incident has sparked speculation that China could retaliate by arresting Canadians working abroad in the country, as many large Canadian corporations have offices or retail outlets there.
However, it’s too soon to think about possible retaliatory measures, experts say.
“I think at this stage, there is no implication yet,” said Lynette Ong, an associate professor with the Munk School.
“But I think if this event were to escalate, it might have implications for security of Canadian businesses and Canadian business people operating in China.”
As of 2015, Canadian businesses had 531 locations across China spanning several sectors, including energy, education and agriculture, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.
Companies with sizable footprints in China include Manulife Financial Corp., Thomson Reuters and Restaurant Brands International, which has several Burger King locations in China and plans to bring more than 1,500
Tim Hortons coffee shops to the country over the next decade.
All declined to comment.
Other Canadian companies with Chinese interests include Bombardier Inc., Magna International Inc. and Canada Goose Holdings.
None responded by time of publication.