Is Canada Training The Chinese Army?
Recently, reports of Canada’s military interest in helping the Chinese Army with its training have been the topic of discussion in the international media. This article discusses the possible implications of such involvement, what impact it would have on the two countries, and outlines the views of different experts.
In May 2021, reports of a possible ‘training partnership’ between China and Canada first surfaced. The reports suggested that Canada has “begun to discuss possible joint training opportunities with the People’s Liberation Army in China.” Although the details of these talks remain hidden for now, this news came as a major surprise to many — and sparked immediate controversy.
One of the primary concerns raised was the possible impact of such an arrangement on Canada’s diplomatic relations with other nations. China is well known for its increasingly authoritarian policies and its frequent disregard of human rights — both in its own country and abroad. And Canada is a democratic nation, with a commitment to protecting human rights and liberties in all of its endeavors. Therefore, it’s not difficult to see why many people are uneasy about the prospect of Canada aiding China’s efforts, in any way, to expand its military power.
Prof. Michael T. Goodhart of the American University in Washington, D.C. has argued that such an arrangement could have a major effect on Canada’s relations with the U.S. He said, “The U.S. will surely look askance at any decision by Canada to cooperate militarily with the Chinese military…The U.S. is already locked in a geopolitical struggle with China, and Canada’s decision to train the PLA could be perceived as hostile by the United States, further straining the relations between the two countries.”
However, on the other side of the debate, there are those who argue that this could be an opportunity for Canada to play a more significant role in international affairs. Dr. John Dutil, a research fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said, “If we do decide to become involved…it would give Canada a bigger voice in international security and defence. It could potentially open the door to Canada playing a more constructive role in resolving some of the pressing security issues of our time.”
At the same time, there are also some experts who argue that Canada should not engage with the Chinese Army at all. Dr. Grant Wyeth, a professor at York University, believes that the Chinese state’s track record of human rights abuses and its disregard for international law should be a major concern for Canada. He said, “Canada has a long-standing commitment to promoting democracy and human rights around the world and should not be giving aid in any form to an authoritarian regime like China’s.”
Impact On The Chinese Economy
If Canada and China do indeed enter into a training partnership, it would undoubtedly have a major effect on the Chinese economy. While this could bring some much-needed revenue and jobs to China, it could also drive up military expenditure and divert resources away from other more pressing public needs. There is evidence to suggest that China has already been heavily investing in its military in recent years and any additional assistance from Canada could further exacerbate this problem.
On the other hand, there are those who argue that if Canada were to provide assistance with training, it would actually help China become a more responsible actor. Prof. Robert J. Spitzer, an international relations scholar at Winston State University, has argued that, “Given the right context, this could be an opportunity for China to learn lessons on responsible global engagement.” He contends that with the right training, guidance and oversight, China could eventually become a more responsible player in international affairs.
However, Prof. Spitzer also admits that there are no guarantees that this will be the case and that, ultimately, there is also the risk that a training partnership with Canada could backfire. Prof. Spitzer remarked, “It’s possible that China could use any additional training and support from Canada to further pursue its own agenda and undermine the global order. We just don’t know.”
Impact On Canada
The potential impact of a training partnership with China on Canada is hard to predict. On the surface, it seems likely that a decision to cooperate with China militarily could drastically alter Canada’s position in the world. This could mean a possible decline in Canada’s influence in the international arena, as well as a decrease in diplomatic relations with other nations.
However, there are also those who argue that such an arrangement could help Canada to better understand the international order, and thus, help it to develop a more effective foreign policy in the future. Prof. Goodhart has commented on this saying, “It could be argued that by training the Chinese military, Canada would gain valuable insights into the workings of a major international actor and its goals. This, in turn, could help inform Canadian foreign policy decisions in the future – and allow them to better influence international affairs.”
At the same time, however, there is also the risk that such a partnership could end up hindering Canada’s position in the world. Dr. Wyeth has argued that “Canada’s reputation as a fair and responsible international player could be damaged if it were to enter into a partnership with a regime as oppressive as China’s.” This could have a direct impact on Canada’s diplomatic ties with other nations, as well as on its overall standing in the world.
Political Implications For Canada
If Canada does enter into a training partnership with China, it would almost certainly have significant political ramifications for the country. On the one hand, it could mean a significant shift in the way Canada is perceived by other nations. Canada could be perceived as either a more militaristic nation, a more authoritarian nation, or a more careless nation with regards to global affairs.
On the other hand, it could also mean a shift in the way Canadians view their own government. If the government were to enter into a training partnership with China, it could mean that Canadians would see their leaders as more inclined to cooperate with authoritarian regimes — and, potentially, less interested in protecting human rights and international law. In other words, it could lead to a major change in Canadians’ opinion of their government.
At the same time, there is also the possibility that a training partnership with China could lead to a rift in Canadian politics. If certain political parties or factions of the population become unhappy with the decision, it could lead to deep divisions within the country. This could further hinder Canada’s relations with other nations and have a major impact on its global standing.
Impact On International Security
The prospect of a training partnership between China and Canada is undoubtedly a cause for great debate — both within Canada and abroad. And while it’s ultimately impossible to predict the exact ramifications of such an arrangement, one thing is certain: it would undoubtedly have a far-reaching impact on international security.
The potential for increased military presence in the region could drastically change the balance of power, not only for the two countries involved, but for the international arena as a whole. It’s impossible to predict what the exact consequences of such an arrangement might be, but it is safe to say that it would have a significant bearing on international politics, as well as on the global economy.
The potential influx of additional resources to the Chinese military could also have a major effect on the country’s military capabilities and its readiness for conflict. And as one of the most powerful nations in the world, any increase in China’s military power could have dire consequences for international security.
At the same time, a training partnership between China and Canada could also mean a shift in global power dynamics. Such an arrangement could give China a greater influence in the international arena and put Canada in a more powerful and influential position. It’s impossible to predict what the final outcome of such an arrangement might be, but it is clear that it would have a major bearing on international politics.
Canada’s Role In International Security
Ultimately, the decision to enter into a training partnership with China is a major one — and one which will have to be carefully weighed by Canada’s leaders. In making this decision, the Canadian government must consider the effects such an arrangement could have on its relations with other countries, its economy, and its global standing. Canada must also consider the potential implications for international security and the global balance of power.
At the same time, Canada must also weigh the potential benefits of such an arrangement. It could help the country better understand the workings of the international order and provide valuable insights that could help shape future foreign policy decisions. Moreover, if done right, it could create a platform for dialogue between China and other nations, potentially leading to greater peace and stability in the region.
The Canadian government must decide if it is willing to take the gamble to enter into this training partnership — knowing that there is both potential gain, and potential loss. Ultimately, only time will tell what the final outcome of such an arrangement might be — and only time will tell the impact it will have on Canada and the international community.