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By Anthony B. Kim*
As leading Pacific nations, long-time allies the United States and Canada share clear interests in keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open and preventing Communist China from gaining an even stronger foothold there. So, when Canada recently unveiled an Indo-Pacific Strategy, it became in America’s best interest to work closely with Ottawa to help move that strategy forward.
Canada, which has been on the receiving end of Beijing’s “coercive diplomacy and non-market trade practices,” defines China as “an increasingly disruptive global power.” Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy paper unambiguously underscores that
China has benefitted from the rules-based international order to grow and prosper, but it is now actively seeking to reinterpret these rules to gain greater advantage. China’s assertive pursuit of its economic and security interests, advancement of unilateral claims, foreign interference and increasingly coercive treatment of other countries and economies have significant implications in the region, in Canada and around the world.
The China challenge is an issue of mutual concern for Washington and Ottawa, to which the two willing partners should forge with a clear-eyed, broad-based, long-term approach.
Sharing the world’s longest unmilitarized border, the United States and Canada have bonded through a dynamic, forward-looking relationship. The two countries closely collaborate every day on critical economic and security issues.
Nations that share the values of freedom, a rock-solid commitment to preserving rules-based order, and a deep-seated desire to preserve and advance those democratic values are natural allies and partners.
Indeed, history reminds us that allies and partners are critical to winning any global fight, particularly when members of the free world are facing increasing challenges from authoritarian states.
From a foreign policy perspective, America’s interests in Asia require more than soaring rhetoric and frequent meetings. They require action.
According to Washington’s latest Indo-Pacific Strategy document, “China’s coercion and aggression spans the globe, but it is most acute in the Indo-Pacific.” To achieve a more free and open region, the document points out that the U.S. must build coalitions by deepening treaty alliances and strengthening relationships with leading partners to counter China’s malign influence there.
On that critical front, it’s important to keep in mind the crucial importance of the free circulation of ideas, people, goods, and capital that has been firmly institutionalized in the long-standing relationship between the Unites States and Canada.
In fact, the U.S. and Canada long have benefited from the world’s largest and most comprehensive economic engagement—an engagement that supports millions of jobs and dynamic entrepreneurial growth in each country. Our two countries share an over $1.4 trillion bilateral trade and investment relationship.
The fact is that our nations have a long history of pragmatic cooperation, even when our leaders and governments have hailed from opposite sides of the political spectrum. Indeed, a vital foundation underpinning the U.S.-Canada relationship, which extends far beyond governments and is deeply embedded in business and cultural relationships, is our shared adherence to principled ideals that preserve and enhance freedom.
As The Heritage Foundation’s annual “Index of Economic Freedom” highlights, policies and governing systems that promote freedom, accountability, and openness enable countries to uncover and formulate practical solutions to a wide range of challenges that confront the world. Economic freedom, which is the backbone of free, transparent, and dynamic market systems, matters more than ever when dealing with ongoing global challenges.
With the economies, societies, and infrastructure of the U.S. and Canada so deeply intertwined, preserving and advancing economic freedom together is the path forward for ensuring the two allies’ shared prosperity and security.
2023 should be the year for Washington to welcome that.
*Anthony B. Kim researches international economic issues at The Heritage Foundation, with a focus on economic freedom and free trade.
This article is part of an agreement between El American and The Heritage Foundation.