Canada toes the official line on China

China’s pain has been inflicted mainly upon the plain, or the Plains to be specific.

The official story behind the ban of Canadian canola, and one cannot blame Canadian officials for sticking to their talking points, is that China claims to have found some potentially dangerous elements in Canadian canola exports and they are working with that nation to solve the problem.

No Canadian official wants to cause China to lose face in this dispute about something other than either side will admit. It certainly appears this is a bit of a game where Canadian farmers and one of the nation’s symbols, like maple syrup, are being used as leverage to achieve an officially unnamed result.

They want their Cathy Meng back. As one of China’s most powerful executives, Shenzhen’s Meng Wanzhou is a deputy chair and chief financial officer of China’s largest private company, wireless data giant Huawei. While not the heir-apparent to her father’s company, Ren Zhengfei says none of his kids have the right stuff for that job, the mother of four is still valuable to the nation as a whole.

While she might be a national treasure, she did make a few mistakes along the way to becoming detained in one of her Vancouver homes.

She had been a Canadian, or at least a permanent resident beginning in 2001. But she let that expire in 2008. Too bad, it might have come in handy in fighting an extradition order to the United States, where she is facing bank and wire fraud charges related to a breach of American sanctions against Iran.

As a person of obvious capacity and means, coming to Canada in early December, if only to change planes on the way to Mexico from another of her home territories, Hong Kong, might have been another mistake. The American charges against her had been outstanding since last August.

Canadians would love to give her back, but that would offend the Americans. The Americans don’t want her to foul up their current round of trade negotiations, so it is likely they don’t want her either, at least not yet.

And we have to play a game of pseudo-scientific, Sino-Canadian canola charades in the meantime. And provide China the opportunity to back out of this mess with a face-saving, pseudo-scientific solution at some point in the future.

Let’s hope it’s not a winner-loses-all sort of game.

Contact mike.raine@producer.com

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