China targets Canadian firm

Blooming Canola field (Brassica napus), located in East Central Saskatchewan. Photo: Nas2 [CC0]

In a further escalation of the conflict between China and Canada over the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, China banned canola imports from Richardson International.

The official reason: The largest Canadian grain processor lost its permit to import in China because hazardous pests were found. According to a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China detected frequently “hazardous pests in imports of Canadian canola, and in one company’s imports the problem was particularly serious.”

A more probable explanation: Richardson was the only wholly Canadian owned firm that exports canola to China and no other Canadian canola exporters have been affected. China has a history of using food and health safety measures politically. In a dispute with the Philipines over conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, China suddenly restricted banana imports. In a more recent conflict with South Korea over the deployment of a THAAD missile shield, it targetted the Lotte supermarket chain with fire safety inspections, forcing Lotte to close its shops definitely in China.

What to look out for: As long as Canada detains Meng Wanzhou, we can expect tensions to rise, and there’s a high probability that China will target other Canadian exporters by this kind of ‘informal’ measures. An alternative for the Chinese is the instigation of consumer boycotts as they happened a few months ago when Chinese websites called for the boycotting of Canadian brands. However, this didn’t stop Chinese consumers to flock to the opening of the first Canada Goose flagship store.

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