The ‘prince of darkness’ has a message for us in Canada though he was speaking to his fellow Americans. Yes, Steve Bannon, about whom I normally don’t a give rat’s ass, has suggested that we, the West, need to get our asses in gear or we’ll get economically checkmated by the Chinese. Quoth Bannon, “To me, the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.” According to Bill Tieleman who wrote this article https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/08/22/What-If-Bannon-Is-Right-AboutChina/autm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=220817 in The Tyee, this is a proposition worth considering. Bannon may be dark, but he’s not an idiot, and perhaps we shouldn’t allow our natural aversion to people like him discount everything he says.
There’s reason to worry. According to Tielemann, a whopping 88% of Canadians are concerned about doing business with China but our PM, Trudeau02, is ignoring them and forging ahead with serious talks about a so called Free Trade Agreement with China. Since the empire falling apart to the south of us can no longer be relied upon as our dearest trade partner, we must go our own way, as Minister of Trade, Chrystia Freeland, pointed out not long ago. At the time, she didn’t say anything about the Chinese.
But we might ask ourselves, is reliance on the Chinese a better option? For the answer, I suggest visiting what was once my favourite city, Vancouver. There, you can get up close and personal with the mainland Chinese, literally buying up anything they can get their hands on. They come with suitcases full of cash, somewhat romantic, and just like the old timey Mafia. They not only bring bags of money to invest or launder but also a culture that is extremely different from ours. Well, we are old hands at handling immigrants from other cultures, aren’t we? But just how good are we at handling people with the attitude that, since they have the money, they get to lead in this new Canadian/Chinese dance. Ask anyone working for a Chinese company in Vancouver, and they will admit that they dance to their tune. This involves working literally 24/7, without giving a minor thought to your health or your family. Or silently enduring bullying by fellow Chinese students in middle school. And generally making money the sole and only driver in your life. Also, being subservient, no matter how galling the situation. And all this doesn’t even begin to address the moral and ethical questions that cooperation with an autocratic country that jails and murders dissenters entail.
If you think this is racism; think again: nobody in Vancouver cares about race, but everybody cares about the local economy, especially the housing economy, which has been severely distorted by Chinese buyers carting cash. And the bullying in the schools, that is happening and nobody in the school system knows how to handle this delicate matter. After all, who wants to be branded a racist? Ask any stressed ESL teacher and they will admit that Chinese parents are interfering, do no listen, and don’t care if they make unreasonable demands on their children as well as the teachers. This is a problem of long standing in Vancouver, which has one of the highest percentages of children from Asian countries in the school system. As for working till you drop, that’s just ‘normal’ in China and other Asian countries, and it speaks volumes that the Chinese investors and owners of businesses in Vancouver think that they can simply import their ‘values’ without any kind of backlash.
The backlash is there, but it is suppressed. It cannot be spoken of; it is unwise and leads to trouble. You’ll be branded a racist, a troublemaker and worse. It is there, simmering, just beneath the surface of this most beautiful of cities. It’s a situation that has led to thousands fleeing to other cities, the Okanagan and even, god help us, Alberta.
Our politicians aren’t listening. They think they can exchange Uncle Sam with Uncle Chang, and it will all work out just fine. Beware of greed clouding your vision, Trudeau baby. Whatever the US once was, it wasn’t a foreign culture. It was us, only more aggressive and ten times bigger. We knew what and whom we were dealing with. The question is, do we actually know who the Chinese are going to turn out to be?
And why can’t we be just a titch more self-reliant instead of always, but always singing that same old song of Canada being a ‘trading nation’ and thus having to make nice with our ‘trading partners’. We need a change of tactics, a long game where we won’t get checkmated in the end. Where we will still be a trading nation, but one with brains and balls. Is that beyond us? Perhaps. Certainly, under Trudeau02, it won’t happen.
I think that it’s time for Canada to grow up and be the wonderful country that Trudeau is telling everyone we are. Sorry, kid, we’re not there yet, and making nice with China is clearly heading in the direction of eventual checkmate. The Chinese always were excellent chess players; we should remember they invented Goh, a kind of three dimensional chess on steroids. And they have an endgame in mind. The question is, does Canada have one?