The feud between China and the United States sparked by the arrest of a senior Huawei telecoms executive in Vancouver appears poised to inflict collateral damage on Canada, which has sought to build closer ties with Beijing amid an increasingly unpredictable trade relationship with its southern neighbour.
In recent years, China has quickly become one of Canada’s largest trading partners, a relationship that has becoming increasingly important as Canada navigates a mercurial relationship with the US. But the recent spat is likely to put the brakes on a free trade agreement between the two countries. “When there is a crisis in the relationship – and there is now – China simply goes silent, high-level visits are put off, exchanges don’t happen,” said David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China. “I think we’re going into a deep freeze for as many months as it takes to resolve itself.”