By Ling Yunzhi
Recently, Canada sent the HMCS Ottawa frigate to jointly sail through the Taiwan Strait with the USS Ralph Johnson destroyer and publicly hyped up this event. This is the second time that the two countries jointly sailed through the Taiwan Strait this year, and also the fourth for Canada to do so by tagging along with the US. In recent years, Canada has continuously followed the US’ suit to make provocations in the Asia-Pacific region, acting as its pawn and henchman.
The Canadian warship’s sailing through the Taiwan Strait with the US destroyer was a premeditated and calculated move, attempting to stimulate China and send wrong signals to some Taiwan separatists by creating trouble and conflicts in the Strait. However, it is unlikely to yield significant results owing to Canada’s strength and international constraints.
First, in terms of strength, Canada has long placed its security on NATO and the US and concentrated its military activities in non-traditional security fields, thus lacking the ability to launch large-scale military operations overseas. At present, Canada’s military expenditure only accounts for about 1.3% of its national GDP, with a small investment in practical military operations in the Indo-Pacific region. Furthermore, Canada does not have as many geostrategic fulcrums and overseas bases as the US in the Asia-Pacific, so its military presence and influence in the region are unnoticeable, not constituting a comprehensive threat at all.
Second, lacking strategic autonomy in defense and security, especially following the lead of the US in strategies and diplomacy, Canada heavily relies on cooperation with the former over many security issues, meaning it actually can only play a supporting role in most cases. For example, Canadian warships sailed across the Taiwan Strait more than once, but they were basically pulled by the US warships as an obedient lackey.
However, although obsessed with all-domain competition and gaming with China in recent years, the US also always sets up guardrails to prevent disruptive consequences to bilateral relations produced by sparking accidental conflicts. In view of this, the US still keeps much restraint but hasn’t taken excessive provocative actions, though it has repeatedly sent military aircraft and warships to conduct activities in the waters surrounding China, which are primarily more of deterrent measures simply to demonstrate its strong military strength and so-called freedom of navigation. This has in turn determined Canada’s actions to be posturing and lacking in practicality.
Last, China’s firm attitude and resolute response to the provocative actions of the US and Canada are also significant factors in restricting their rash behaviors. For example, in June 2023, the USS Chung-Hoon destroyer and the Canadian HMCS Montréal patrol frigate attempting to transit the Taiwan Strait were forced to be diverted under violent counterattack by the Chinese navy. According to media reports, the recent Canadian HMCS Ottawa patrol frigate had encountered the Chinese naval vessel at least three times. The Chinese warship clad in armor sent a vocal alert to the Canadian ship, and also dispatched drones to implement surveillance all the way. All these actions create a profound deterrent effect to Canada’s unscrupulous intentions.
In general, although cherishing the evil intention to aggravate tensions in the Taiwan Strait and undermine regional peace, stability and development, the Canadian warship’s joint transit with the US destroyer is merely symbolic but devoid of practical value burdened by its own strength and international constraints, which will only bring some meaning to their presence but not enough to produce destructive consequences.