US, Canada Meet Amid Standoff With China

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (3rd L) and US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (2nd L), hold a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (3rd R) and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan (2nd R) at the State Department in Washington, DC, December 14, 2018. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

The United States and Canada met Friday for high-level talks amid a showdown with China, which has voiced fury over the arrest of an executive in Vancouver on a US request.

The meeting comes as Canada looks like collateral damage in the US-China rift, with Beijing detaining two Canadians yet still moving forward with the United States on easing trade tensions.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened the previously scheduled dialogue in Washington with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland alongside US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Canadian counterpart Harjit Sajjan.

China has demanded the release of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecoms behemoth Huawei whom Washington wants to be extradited for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran.

Pompeo is seeking to squeeze Iran’s economy over the Islamic republic’s involvement around the Middle East and has vowed to press all countries, friend or rival, to join.

Canada complied with the request from its giant neighbor to arrest Meng, who was changing planes in Vancouver, despite worries of repercussions.

The fears turned out to be well-founded as China has detained two Canadians on suspicion of “harm to national security” — a phrase often used by Beijing when alleging espionage.

The Canadians were Michael Spavor, a China-based consultant who arranges visits for foreigners including NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea, and Michael Kovrig, a Mandarin-speaking former Canadian diplomat who works for the International Crisis Group, a think tank that looks for peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

Freeland has said that Canada is working to ascertain the two citizens’ whereabouts and is raising their cases with Chinese authorities. Meng is out on bail of Can$10 million (US$7.5 million).

 Movement on US-China trade 

Even as China is seen as punishing Canada, it has appeared to pull its punches with the United States and moved ahead with a trade truce negotiated by President Donald Trump.

China said Friday it would suspend extra tariffs on US-made cars and auto parts for three months from January 1 — freezing a measure taken in retaliation to tariffs imposed by Trump.

Meng’s arrest came on the very day that Trump was meeting with his Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit in Buenos Aires to find a way out of months of trade tensions.

In an agreement hailed by Trump as “amazing,” he agreed to hold off on a new round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports that were set to go into effect with the new year.

Instead, the world’s two largest economies set up talks to address US trade concerns, particularly what US officials say is China’s rampant theft of US technology to prop up its own firms.

The additional auto tariffs were one of the retaliatory measures taken by China and were sure to gain the attention of Trump, who has put a major focus on manufacturing.

Canada has also been on the receiving end of Trump’s unorthodox approach on trade. In June, Trump publicly criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak” for his statements on tariffs as the Canadian leader hosted a Group of Seven summit in Quebec.

The two countries have also found their own truce, recently signing a rebranded version of the North American Free Trade Agreement along with Mexico at Trump’s insistence.

The post US, Canada Meet Amid Standoff With China appeared first on Channels Television.

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