The close timing of Meng Wanzhou’s deal with US federal prosecutors with the release of the Two Michaels in China makes it clearer to many that Beijing randomly jailed the two men to use as leverage.

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After a dramatic prisoner swap that saw the sudden return of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou, who left Vancouver for China, while diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor returned to Canada from China, there will be many decisions. high-level for Ottawa.

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There will also be many pragmatic considerations for British Columbia entrepreneurs, academics and community groups when it comes to re-evaluating their China-related work, according to a longtime observer.

There has been immense relief at the release of the Canadians, who became known for their three-year detention in China as the Two Michaels.

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They were jailed in China in December 2018, just after Canada arrested Meng, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, in an extradition request from the United States.

The timing of the Two Michaels’ release from Chinese prison cells in the immediate aftermath of Meng’s agreement with US federal prosecutors that allowed him to leave Vancouver, where he had been living in a multi-million dollar mansion while at large. on bail, makes it clear to many. that the two men were chosen at random by Beijing so that they could be used as leverage. It has been a case that has shaken relations between Canada, China and the United States.

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“We have been very committed to the question of the three Ms, Meng and the two Michaels,” said Paul Evans, professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. “We’re going to start breathing some oxygen again or at least we’ll have some oxygen that can help us think about some of the practical problems that people are going to face.”

Meng Wanzhou (left) and Michael Kovrig.
Meng Wanzhou (left) and Michael Kovrig. CCTV Photo / Chris Helgren /REUTERS

Evans said Ottawa will have to figure out how to deal with Huawei and if it blocks the Chinese telecoms giant from its 5G wireless networks and what that could mean for its dynamic with its allies, including Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which have restrictions. formal declared.

“There are some important geopolitical issues,” Evans said.

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And underneath that, there are also many smaller, more practical decisions for many people in Vancouver and elsewhere in British Columbia who are connected to China by corporate work or business ventures, and other ties like twinning or swap deals, all from cities. sisters to sing. groups.

“They have been fighting fear, worry and deep concern for the Michaels. Now, we are in a situation of thinking, ‘How do we recalculate what the risks are? What are the opportunities? And what are the danger zones that we want to stay away from? ‘”.

“There will probably be a lot of soul searching that will happen,” Evans said.

“We will come out of deep freeze. Business continued over the three-year period on a routine basis, but there was great difficulty even in resolving border inspection disputes, ”said Yves Tiberghien, Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia and author of a new book, The East Asian COVID-19 Paradox.

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However, he said that “now we are in a period of increased tensions, mistrust and partial decoupling between the United States and China.

He said that in addition to the arrest of the two Michaels, the pandemic also affected the corporate strategy of Canadian companies with some divestments or reducing their exposure to China.

But “they are a minority. For most companies, they are looking for a China + 1 or China + N strategy in which they can remain committed to (their) huge domestic market, while also having alternative sources of production, supplies and markets to mitigate their risk. “

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