Jun 29, 2020 / 23:43

The end justifies the means

The Hanoitimes - The so-called "hostage diplomacy" is not popularly used but it does exist in the world of diplomacy.

For China, it has been the detention and charges against two Canadians for spying. For Canada, China's act is purely a manifestation of the so-called hostage diplomacy, meaning that China's moves against these two Canadian citizens were aiming at mounting pressures on the Canadian government so that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou would be set free instead of being extradited to the US. Mrs Meng was arrested by the Canadian authorities two years ago in Canada at the request of the US.

 People hold signs calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig during an extradition hearing for Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on March 6, 2019. Lindsey Wasson / Reuters

The so-called "hostage diplomacy" is not popularly used but it does exist in the world of diplomacy. Of course, neither China nor Canada officially talked about it. But recent developments give rise to an inference that hostage diplomacy is in place. Mrs Meng is Canada's trump card in its games with the US and China. Canada wanted to do the US a favor and at the same time to get a new possibility to bargain with China. The arrest of Mrs Meng was one thing. Her extradition to the US will be the other. Canada, and the US too, knew that because of her position and power in Huawei and because of the significance of Huawei to China, this country would try its utmost to get Mrs Meng freed and repatriated.  In other words, they knew that China is willing to pay high prices.

China's aim is at first to prevent Canada from extraditing Mrs Meng to the US and then to rescue her. In this case, to deal with Canada is much easier and promising for China than to deal with the US. That is why China has been taking unconventional measures against Canada. Canada took into account that China would properly retaliate and if so, China would face the risks of being protested, even condemned, by Canada and its Western allies. Both calculated in advance that their bilateral relationships would be inevitably damaged. They all know that "hostage diplomacy", no matter how it is camouflaged, is never honest. But the end justifies the means not only in politics but also in diplomacy.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau already denied any possibility of compromising with China in this matter. Releasing Mrs Meng is a political and executive matter and not a legal matter in Canada. So is the release of the two Canadians in China. A citizen swap between Canada and China seems now to be impossible. Therefore, this issue from now on could only be solved jointly by them and the US.