An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WHAT TO DO about China? That seems to be the big question now that Meng Wanzhou has gone home and the two Michaels are back on Canadian soil.
Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been a part of our national dialogue since they were thrown into a Chinese prison more than a thousand days ago in retribution for the detention of Meng at the request of the U.S.
With a major source of tension between Canada and China removed, can relations between our two countries return to normal? Maybe the bigger question is, what’s normal?
While the Meng Wanzhou issue was resolved through negotiations at the highest diplomatic and legal levels, a return to goodwill between our two countries will best be accomplished at the grassroots.
The Chinese are wonderful people; they just happen to live under the yoke of a repressive regime.
There are both cultural and business components to our relationship with them. Cultural exchanges have largely been collateral to business, and we do a lot of business with China. It is, in fact, our second biggest trading partner.
Trade as a whole has thrived and exports have actual increased throughout the crisis over Meng’s legal problems. Trade involves a lot of regular people.
In B.C. alone, there are dozens of Canada-China business organizations promoting trade.
Umbrella organizations like the Canada China Business Council and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and Shanghai work to ensure opportunities continue to be advanced.
Here in Kamloops, proactive efforts have been going on for close to 20 years to explore opportunities such as softwood lumber and other exports to China. Thompson Rivers University has close educational involvement there.
Now would be an opportune time for the Kamloops chamber and other business groups to renew initiatives in China.
Governments can create crises, but ordinary people working to keep the wheels of commerce and culture churning give us our best chance at a peaceful and productive relationship with this global super power.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.