Two specialists in the new Silk Roads, a vast economic project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, explain how the expansion project of the port of Quebec could interest Washington and Beijing for different reasons.
• Read also: CK Hutchison suffered two refusals in two years
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- Former adviser to the US trade representative from 2014 to 2016, Jonathan hillman is a specialist in Chinese trade issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. He just published The Emperor’s New Road about the new Silk Roads.
- Frédéric Lasserre is professor of geography at Laval University. He co-edited the book The New Silk Roads: Geopolitics of a Major Chinese Project.
What is the relationship between CK Hutchison, the parent company of Ports Hutchison Canada, and the Chinese central government?
- HILLMAN: I believe they are in a difficult situation because the Chinese central government tightened its grip on Hong Kong territory last summer.
- LASSERRE: At the moment, Hutchison is a private company relatively independent from the central government. Is it going to stay like this for a long time? There is some uncertainty.
Could Hutchison’s presence give the Chinese government the opportunity to add Quebec to the Silk Roads maritime route, its vast trade corridors project?
- HILLMAN: The Chinese would certainly want to extend the Silk Roads to Canada. There could certainly be a will to put the label on it.
- LASSERRE: It is not impossible that the Chinese government begins to communicate by saying that the Americas too, it is part of the new silk roads.
Could the United States government intervene with Canada regarding Hutchison’s presence in the Quebec City project?
- HILLMAN: Without wishing to speculate, I would be surprised if there had not already been interventions. But there will be no public statement before a private intervention. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said what he said about Israel’s infrastructure contracts with China, one can imagine what he might say about a port even closer to the states. -United.
- LASSERRE: The big projects in Canada will raise more and more questions on the American side. We want to limit exposure as much as possible for large contracts with Chinese companies from China or Hong Kong.
Many tensions between China and Canada
- May 2018: For reasons of national security, Ottawa is blocking the purchase by a Chinese company of the Canadian construction company Aecon, which is seen in Beijing as a political intervention.
- December 2018: Arrest by Canada of a Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the United States, which suspects the company of not having respected American sanctions against Iran.
- December 2018: Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, are immediately apprehended and detained in China in what appears to be a response from Beijing.
- June 2020: Justin Trudeau refuses to cancel Meng Wanzhou’s extradition process.
- July 2020: Canada is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and its military exports to the island to protest against Beijing’s increased power, perceived as a decline in freedoms in this Chinese territory with special status.
- September 2020: Canada is abandoning the idea of concluding a free trade agreement with China after four years of talks.
- September 2020: Ottawa is definitively blocking the creation of a subsidiary in Quebec of the French company Flying Whales in which a Chinese state-owned company is a co-shareholder.
- October 2020: Justin Trudeau denounces Beijing’s “coercive diplomacy”. Beijing retaliates with the same criticism.
What are the Silk Roads?
- Launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the New Silk Roads project provides for hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments between Beijing and Western Europe.
- The project affects dozens of countries where China is helping to build ports, rail networks, fiber optics, etc.
- Beijing says it promotes economic development, but Washington sees it as a hegemonic project.
- In 2017, Ports Hutchison already had 22 of its facilities on the maritime route of the new Silk Roads.
- So far, Ports Hutchison’s presence in North America has been limited to Mexico.