As Canada continues to strengthen its relations with China, the topic of whether a Chinese army could exist in Canada has increasingly become a subject of discourse. Many arguments exist, both pro and con, on the matter and with the ever-changing dynamics of global geopolitics, this is a timely discussion that requires thoughtful assessment and consideration. This article will explore multiple aspects of the likelihood of a Chinese army existing in Canada such as whether this scenario is feasible, what implications such an outcome would carry and the legal implications of allowing a foreign military force in the country.
The Military Balance study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) revealed that China has the world’s largest military presence with over two million personnel. Compared to Canada’s estimated 100 thousand standing armed forces, it is safe to assume that it would be highly difficult for any Chinese Army to setup a base in Canada on a large-scale. Based on martial records and recent military exercises, Canada’s own defence forces will be able to safeguard the nation from any possible attacks from abroad. While its true that Canada is currently in need of better equipment and an increased defence budget, Canadian military leadership has reiterated that there is no imminent threat for the country at the moment.
Perhaps, the Department of National Defense could component with their Chinese counterparts and explore the possibility of technology and arms sharing. Canada is currently facing a technological deficit in its armed forces and those losses could be mitigated significantly if the Chinese military can be allowed to share their arms and techniques with the Canadians. Moreover, this could be a platform to enable joint training exercises which will be enable Canadian soldiers to experience a different style of combat and enhance their skillset. Additionally, this could further improve the diplomatic contacts between the two nations and act as major source of strength in the event of a major geopolitical gaffe.
At present, Canada holds sovereignty over international affairs which means that the state has the authority to regulate (or even prevent) foreign armies from entering their territories. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that the rights of every individual freedom in Canada is guaranteed and any misconduct on the part of foreign forces in on Canadian soil will not be tolerated. Furthermore, National Defence Act 1986 and The Defence Production Act have been established to ensure the safety of all citizens in the country. It is for this reasons that both the Canadian government and its citizens would not allow for a foreign force to make any military plans within Canadian state lines.
Despite the potential benefits of permitting a Chinese Army in Canada, there is a growing concern among Canadian citizens and various human rights activists about what this might mean for the nation. Supporters of the movement against the Chinese Army presence in Canada argue that such a move will challenge the sovereignty of the nation, lead to violation of Canadian laws and interference in domestic politics. Moreover, there are environmental and socialisation concerns as well since several areas in Canada are home to diverse ecosystems which cannot be disrupted.
China’s Strategic Pivot
It is important to understand that China is making a shift towards a ‘strategic pivot’. This involves an outlook that focuses on international cooperation and military partnerships. This bodes well for the Chinese’s military plans and Canada could act as a bridge that helps the Chinese military access new markets and countries. Of late, China’s naval ambition has been on the rise and allowing them to establish a presence in Canada by providing a secure base and access routes could be beneficial for the Chinese from a strategic point of view.
Response from Political Leaders
In light of this discussion, political leaders from both Canada and China must be proactive in addressing the issue of whether a Chinese army may exist in Canada. This conversation must take place and Chinese leaders must take additional steps to assure their Canadian counterparts that the establishment of their forces in Canada will be beneficial to both sides. In the same vein, it is important the response of the Canadian government must be responsible and diplomatic in order to avoid any diplomatic and legal complications.
Many opponents of the presence of Chinese military forces in Canada argue that this could result in economic sanctions, which could have dire consequences for Canadian businesses. It is true that if Canadian laws and regulations are not respected and followed, various countries could issue economic sanctions that could lead to a disruption of Canadian economy. Moreover, the presence of Chinese military forces may also result in increased media scrutiny, which could create a negative public opinion.
Given Canada’s turbulent recent political history, the emergence of a Chinese army within its borders will undoubtedly drive divisive opinion and rhetoric. Politicians from across the spectrum, both national and provincial, can be expected to make controversial statements and use the topic to drive their own agendas. This could have significant implications for the nation and its foreign policy outlook, especially since opinions and debates in Canada are often highly unpredictable.
One of the primary concerns of allowing a potential Chinese Army into Canada is the risk of compromising national security. It is true that there are some security risks associated with bringing a foreign military force into the country. Canadian citizens have always put their trust in the capabilities of the Canadian Defence Forces to ensure the security of the nation and any foreign personnel present may be a cause for concern.
Finally, the presence of a Chinese military base on Canadian soil could create a moral dilemma for many concerned citizens. The ethical issues involving such a move could be quite tricky for Canadian citizens who may try to reconcile their own personal values with their allegiance to the Canadian government. Such debates could be quite divisive and polarising, which could further complicate the conversation.