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Balancing the dragon softly: formulating a pragmatic China policy for Canada

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China’s rising power has raised many questions around the world as to how best to adjust to this historic event in our time. This debate is heating up particularly in the Asia-Pacific region where China’s military power is growing. Canada’s fellow democracies in the region have engaged in lively security policy debates about the rising Chinese power. Yet, Canada has not. Its policy discourse on China is largely limited to the question of how Canada should balance its concerns for human rights with its interests in trade when dealing with China. Consequently, Canada suffers from the lack of a systematic, realistic, and pragmatic security policy framework in formulating its strategy toward China, which would unify various activities pursued by Canada’s security policy community while taking into account the strategy of the United States, Canada’s key ally. This project attempts to fill this critical void in the policy literature. It advances a “soft-balancing strategy” that focuses largely on non-military measures in coping with security threats emanating from China. More specifically, it advocates that Canada should (1) foster further cooperation with its “Five Eyes” partners (the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand) in the field of intelligence and cyber security; (2) forge stronger ties with the Asian partners that share security interests vis-à-vis China; and (3) strengthen the existing policy regime to scrutinize inbound Chinese investment in Canada. While Canada should continue its engagement policy vis-à-vis China, it needs to be balanced with proper security measures in order to protect its security interests.
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