ACRE: “C” Stands for China

In his article “Canada’s Four Point Game,” Irvin Studin, Program Director for the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance, argues that Canada should position itself to be one of this century’s major powers. In making this argument, Studin outlines decisive factors that make Canada ready for major power stardom, including its large geography, abundant natural resources, and competent government. Importantly, Studin emphasizes how creating and maintaining strategic relations with America, China, Russia, and Europe, coining the acronym ACRE, are essential to raising Canada’s geopolitical position and ensuring international prosperity and security.

Part II of this series of articles, entitled “ACRE,” presents how Canada could build a strategic partnership with China. Some political scientists believe that the United States is in relative decline to China’s growing economic, political, and military power in Southeast Asia and the world. China will be a major power in this century because of its growing economy and population and advancing militaristic capabilities. With its rise, Canada could enhance diplomatic training and use bilateral and multilateral means to enhance this partnership.

Studin emphasizes preparing Canadian diplomats to “penetrate the personal-political gate.” Representatives need training and education in Mandarin and Asian affairs and diplomatic experience and valuable contacts to best represent Canadian interests. In addition, diplomats need to learn best practices to effectively assert and fulfill Canada’s objectives. As a relatively closed society for the majority of the twentieth century, the strength and style of Canadian diplomacy will determine how relations with China are built.

Furthermore, Studin highlights that Canada should make bilateral and multilateral treaties with China and its Southeast Asian trading nations such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia to advance its economic interests. On a multilateral level, Canada has used the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to propose and negotiate trade deals. Bilaterally, Canadian politicians and businesspeople have actively promoted Chinese investment in Canadian natural resources. Specifically, the proposed Enbridge Pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia could secure significant Pacific Rim trading agreements.

Studin stresses that Canada needs to ensure that it does not create a confrontation with or pressurize China by isolating it and, therefore, making it falter from a relatively peaceable rise. If China chooses a militarist path to its rise, Sino-Indian relations will heighten and may result in necessary foreign intervention. To prevent China’s isolation, Canada should engage with it in intergovernmental organizations such as the UN and APEC. In addition, multilateral engagement ensures that other rising powers do not feel directly threatened by the Sino-Canadian partnership.

Overall, to become a major power, Canada’s relationship with China will be crucial. As mentioned by Irvin Studin, Canada needs to build a partnership based on a mutual interest in creating prosperity and maintaining security. China’s rise will shift the world order, and it will be of utmost importance for Canada to balance its partnerships. Also significant, Canada will need to create and to maintain strategic relationships with the United States and, as will be discussed in the next article of this series, Russia and the European Union.

Anneliese Sanghara
Anneliese Sanghara is a Junior Research Fellow at the Atlantic Council of Canada. Anneliese is currently a student at the University of Toronto, working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. Her areas of interest include Canadian and American foreign policy, global governance, and international security. After completing her undergraduate degree, Anneliese plans to pursue studies in international law and affairs.