Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard JuneJuly 2020

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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46 JUNE/JULY 2020 British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab holds a press conference on coronavirus updates in London. Photo: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing St via dpa. tHe lASt wORD network. British Foreign Secretary Dom- inic Raab recently stated that in light of China's non-transparency on COVID-19, it could no longer be business as usual with Beijing, leading to speculation that Britain might revisit its Huawei decision. A group within the Conservative Party has chal- lenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson's de- cision to allow Huawei limited participa- tion, possibly resulting in difficulty passing the necessary telecommunications security legislation in the British parliament. Those concerns seem to have been put to rest for the time being, although it is appar- ent that for many in the U.K., the well of Sino-British relations has been poisoned. What about Canada? To date, Canada has taken a much more nuanced position regarding China's responsibility for the pandemic and has refrained from pointing fingers. Unlike the U.S., it did not impose early blanket travel restrictions on China, nor did it seek to publicly name and shame the country for being the source of the vi- rus. In fact, Canada went so far as to pro- vide a shipment of 16 tonnes of protective medical supplies from the Canadian Red Cross as assistance to China in early Feb- ruary as that country's fight against the virus was in its critical stages, for which the Chinese government expressed grati- tude. This donation aroused some criti- cism in Canada for releasing supplies that might be needed at home, but we now know from press reports that there was time urgency to make the donation, since much of the material was about to reach its expiry date. It was also badly needed in China at a crucial time, and could be sent in the belly of the repatriation plane that was being despatched to Wuhan to bring back Canadians quarantined there. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has de- fended his decision not to openly criticize China, as some other leaders have done, stating that now is the time for interna- tional co-operation to fight the virus, not for criticism. Canada and China need to re-engage if they are to move toward a resolution of bilateral problems, includ- ing the detention of the two Michaels, and co-operation on the COVID-19 file could provide the needed impetus. In this regard, the pandemic provides as much op- portunity as threat, as I noted in a recent analysis of the bilateral relationship. With regard to COVID-19, it has been challenging trying to keep Canadians safe and the economy from imploding. Manag- ing the pandemic has also tested our rela- tionship with the U.S., dealing with border security and fighting off threatened export controls of N95 masks, to cite a couple of examples. At the same time, the COVID crisis has wisely not been used as a stick with which to beat Beijing, a move that would only have worsened our relationship with China. If co-operation on COVID-19 can help break the logjam of outstanding Can- ada-China issues, and improve the climate for more co-operation, it might also prevent the pandemic from becoming an obstacle to reaching the right decision on 5G. When it comes to deciding on Huawei's role, Canada has a lot at stake. This includes its role in the future global development of 5G, but also the impact on security relation- ships with close allies. Canada used to be a telecom leader back in the Nortel days, and we still have considerable strengths. There is the promise of many industrial and tech- nological benefits from working with Hua- wei, as well as cost and competition consid- erations for Canadian telecom networks. As for the security argument, one has to remember that the Five Eyes is an in- telligence-sharing arrangement, to which Canada makes valuable contributions by virtue, if nothing else, of our geographic location. It is also in the U.S.'s interest to share information that will contribute to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently stated that in light of China's non-transparency on COVID-19, it could no longer be business as usual with Beijing, leading to speculation that Britain might revisit its Huawei decision. North American security, so the argument (from elements of the Canadian security establishment) that Canada will be cut off from valuable intelligence rings somewhat hollow, especially if Britain, an indispens- able intelligence partner of the U.S., sticks with its current policy on Huawei. Canada should be able to reach a deci- sion that imposes high security standards and protects key elements of the telecom- munication infrastructure while steering clear of U.S. demands to block Huawei from all participation in its networks. However, whatever is ultimately decided, it needs to be a made-in-Canada decision that takes full account of our national in- terests, economically and politically, as well as our relationship with both China and the U.S. And most important, the issue needs to be decided on its own merits, not used as some sort of punishment for China because of its role in the COVID-19 pan- demic, or as a sop to please Washington in its own struggles with China. This article first appeared on the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and is reprinted here by permission. Hugh L. Stephens has more than 35 years of government and business experience in the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Victoria, B.C., Canada, he is currently Executive-in- Residence at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Vice-Chair of the Cana- dian Committee for Pacific Economic Co- operation (CanCPEC). Aer serving for a number of years as senior vice-president, Public Policy (Asia Pacific), for Time War- ner, where he was based at the company's Asia regional headquarters in Hong Kong, Mr. Stephens until recently continued to serve Time Warner in a capacity as senior advisor on public policy for Asia Pacific and Canada. Mr. Stephens has extensive experi- ence in dealing with media and IT industry issues (protection of intellectual property, improved market access, regulatory issues) in China, India, Southeast Asia, Korea/Ja- pan and elsewhere in Asia. To gain more insights from Hugh, check out his blog:

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