Trade, diplomacy, and playing hard ball with China — a LIVE! Q&A with Charles Burton

There are no simple answers when dealing with an economic superpower like China.

But just because any and all answers will be complicated doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to uphold fair and rules-based trade, and human rights. In this LIVE! Q&A, Charles Burton, senior fellow with the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, shares insight into strategies for dealing with China, and how a Biden administration may change the international tone.

Tune in weekdays at 1 pm M/3 pm E on your favourite social media channel for a new RealAg LIVE! guest


  • Let’s get down to it!
  • Canada and China’s diplomatic and trade relationship is well, complicated. And not great.
  • China and Australia example. Oz doesn’t really have recourse, if China does something we have to band together and stand firm
  • Political issues are so very complex
  • OK, does China favour Trump vs Biden? Well, Burton thinks China favours Trump, because it favours China — Trump is arbitrary and has an affection for dictators. Trump was a fan of side deals.
  • Biden will be more internationally focused. Will be more in line with international law.
  • Tensions between U.S. and China won’t be reduced, however, he doesn’t think
  • Will Canada work better with Biden? Likely. And Biden’s administration may lead the way on how we, collectively, deal with China
  • CPTPP? TPP was sort of that “Everyone But China” group, or was intended to be, but then the U.S. dropped out.
  • Can Biden return to the TPP? There’s a perception that these types of agreements lead to lost jobs in the American heartland
  • China feels we are dependent on them, and that it’s difficult to diversify out — and they’re using it against us.
  • Canada needs to demonstrate that not playing by the accepted norms, that there is a consequence
  • And, yes, everyone needs to be on board, or it doesn’t work
  • What about WTO reform? Could that really help? What we really want is for them to play fair and honestly.
  • For those forming strategy, what advice do you have for them? What should our solution be to the “Two Michaels”?
  • Australia has a foreign influence schematic — where those that receive money from outside of Canada have to report that. Should Canada do the same?
  • He says we’re not doing enough for cyber security
  • There are certainly those within Canada that are pushing for more business by China being done here. These two things butt heads, don’t they?
  • China’s action on meat and canola and ask what’s going on here? Well beyond the human rights issues. Wide gap between perception of China from Canada’s business elite and the average Canadian citizen’s perception
  • What about Erin O’Toole? Would he act on his more “hard line” talk on China?
  • There’s the risk of global conflict in an east vs west clash, and move from a cold to a hot war
  • Should we move out of China — as in Canadian firms moving to other countries to do business?

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