Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today the federal Liberal government should take a harder line with China going forward, and accused it of displaying weakness in the face of aggressive moves by Beijing.
Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill, Scheer said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also should demand greater accountability from the World Health Organization (WHO), a body that some accuse of being beholden to the Chinese.
Scheer said that, to this point, the Liberal government has followed a "policy of appeasement" with China. He said the government has done little to secure the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained during the diplomatic fracas over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou last year.
"Don't be fooled by Mr. Trudeau's phony statements about China right now. We have been raising the alarm about this government's failure to stand up for Canada and its policy of appeasement to the regime in the People's Republic of China," Scheer said.
Scheer called for an immediate end to federal funding for the China-led Asian Infrastructure Bank and investigations into unspecified Chinese exports to prove to the regime "there are consequences for illegally detaining two Canadians and pushing Canada around. Justin Trudeau has refused to do that. He refused to do it."
He said Canada's recent push to secure a place in WHO deliberations for Taiwan — a country the People's Republic of China sees as a breakaway province — is motivated by politics rather than principle.
Canada backed an international coalition (including the United States, Japan, Australia and others) in calling for Taiwan — which has fared better than other countries during the pandemic — to be given observer status at a major WHO meeting yesterday. The WHO ultimately refused to invite Taiwan, a decision Scheer described as shameful.
"It's only now after they see some polling data that they've started to change their message on that," Scheer said of the Trudeau government's Taiwan push. "It's only in the last couple of weeks that he's changed his message at all and I believe it's completely disingenuous."