Rarely does a book release come at such an opportune time as Claws of the Panda. The topic it discusses is currently debated all across the world. In this aspect, the publisher of the book might consider themselves lucky. The book, written by Jonathan Manthorpe, who has almost four decades of international reporting experience, focuses on China’s campaign to intimidate and influence Canada.
Given the ongoing tensions between the two nations surrounding the issue of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and implementation of the 5G network, this is the perfect book that can give you a deep understanding of the threat Canada faces from China.
China and Canada
Before we talk about the future, we need to take a look into the past. The book traces the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Canadian establishment back to missionaries who were operating in China in the 1880s. Due to the pitiful condition of the Chinese society and the CCP’s aspirations to create equality and justice, the missionaries initially sympathized with the Party. This laid the groundwork of Canada’s diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1970.
The CCP’s interest in Canada stems from the fact that the North American country has seldom taken any strong position against Beijing’s interest for the most part of the past few decades, whether it be on the issue of ownership of the South China Sea, its relationship with Taiwan, or actions against Xinjiang Uyghurs and Tibetan Buddhists, and so on.
This makes Canada a good ally in the eyes of China and makes Beijing spend spurious amounts of money to maintain its hold over the Canadian administration. In fact, the Chinese regime has been spreading influence even to the realm of municipal and provincial politics.
Obtaining Canadian technology
China is also obsessed with acquiring Canadian technology. The book outlines three ways the CCP does this. First, it sends in Chinese students to enroll in Canada’s top technical universities to become exposed to cutting-edge tech and bring that knowledge back to China. Another way is by buying off Canadian companies to gain access to their technology. This is especially true if the tech has any significant military application. Thirdly, Beijing gets involved in computer hacking and other espionage tactics to steal sensitive information from Canadian firms.
A famous case highlighted in the book is that of the SLOWPOKE nuclear reactor. Considered a major technical achievement in Canada’s scientific history, China was successful in ensuring that its spies had access to documents surrounding the technology. Several years later, a Canadian researcher involved in the Slowpoke technology was stunned when they saw it being used in China. Chinese companies are also buying up Canadian companies involved in the exploration of natural resources.
To develop a positive image among the Canadian public, China often makes use of the Chinese-Canadian community. The Party invokes nationalistic feelings in the community and often succeeds in getting a few of them to support it in various events like government visits, business exhibitions, and through public demonstrations. The Party heavily invests in ensuring that community papers only highlight China as a benign entity.
Chinese-Canadians who try to oppose the CCP are often victimized by the Party. Such people mostly include Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Taiwanese who live in the country. Claws of the Panda is a definite must-read for people who want to understand the diplomatic relationship as it exists between China and Canada.