Opinion Column

What if ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon is right on China’s economic war as Canada looks for free trade deal?

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Steve Bannon (C), former assistant to the President and White House chief strategist. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon (C), former assistant to the President and White House chief strategist. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“We’re at economic war with China.... and they’re crushing us.” - Ex-Donald Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

What if U.S. President Donald Trump’s hard right-wing, ex-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is right about China waging total economic war on the west – just as Canada tries to do a deal with a dictatorship?

And why did Bannon contact a left-wing American publication to make provocative statements about China just days before he left the White House?

Those are important questions Canadians should be asking as Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempts to quietly reach a bilateral free trade agreement with the world’s second biggest economy – run by an authoritarian Communist military government.

It’s an idea most Canadians strongly oppose – 88% per cent were “uncomfortable” with opening up Canada to Chinese state-owned corporations according to an April 2017 Nanos poll.

While most media commentary on Bannon’s apparent firing focused on his comments that there is “no military solution” with North Korea, contradicting Trump – Bannon’s key point has been ignored – that the left and right need to work together.

“To me, the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that,” Bannon told The American Prospect magazine.

Meanwhile, Canada simply blindly drools at the “great untapped potential and many existing challenges in doing business with China” as a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson said last week.

China’s anti-democratic approach was confirmed last week when three young Hong Kong democracy activists were jailed for six months.

And Nobel Peace Prize winning democracy dissident Liu Xiaobo died of cancer in jail last month, serving an 11-year sentence for “subversion”.

But Justin Trudeau doesn’t seem worried about China – he previously marveled at their authoritarian government. 

“There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime,” Trudeau said in 2013.

Those kind of comments mean both Canada’s left and right should be ringing alarm bells about what Liberals might do in a China free trade deal.

And it should be very disconcerting to all Canadians that when it comes to dealing with China’s dictatorship and its intent on economic world hegemony, Donald’s Trump ex-right-wing strategist has a more supportable view than that of Canada’s prime minister.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman