This story is over 5 years old.


Canadian Diplomats Call Bullshit on Trump’s China Rhetoric

The Canadian embassy in Washington has been watching the primary race closely, and they're skeptical of some of Trump's tough talk on China.
Justin Ling
Montreal, CA
Photo via the Associated Press/John Bazemore

It's a well-heeled refrain from Trump's stump speech: the Chinese, the Republican frontrunner says, are "just destroying us."

Trump's China-bashing has been a highlight of his campaign, and the staff at the Canadian embassy in Washington have been paying particular attention.

Christopher Berzins, a political attache in the DC office, wrote a memo to a dozen staff throughout the Canadian embassies in America and China, picking apart Trump's nationalism on trade with China.


The memo, obtained through Canada's access to information laws, is heavily redacted, as are other notes prepared within the Canadian government on Trump, as they could be considered advice to a government minister or "injurious to the conduct of international affairs."

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)November 6, 2012

Berzins' August 12 report compiled more than a dozen quotes from Trump, including his frequent lamentation that "we don't win anymore, we lose to China," the insistence that "China is raping this country," and "China's leaders are like Tom Brady and the US is like a high school football team."

Canadian diplomats and analysts regularly prepare briefing material on the American election, containing subject lines like "all about the base: Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail" and "telling it like it is, Gov Christie launches his long-expected campaign." Those memos are largely redacted.

Some of the memos were prepared for the prime minister — who, at the time, was still Stephen Harper — and a stamp on the documents indicated that the prime minister read and returned them.

Berzins' briefing throws shade on Trump, noting that "when he ran for president in 2012, Trump promised a 25 percent tax on Chinese imports," referring to his aborted bid for the Republican nomination. The next part of the briefing is redacted, but continues "like Trump-branded shirts and ties, being manufactured in China."


While some Trump shirts and suits are made in China, Trump's website currently reads that all of his campaign merchandise is made in America.

The note also mentions that "Trump has also drawn public criticism for the temporary foreign worker visas his business ventures have applied for (over 1,100 since 2000, according to a recent Reuters analysis.)"

The conclusion of the memo focuses on Trump's comments about the deflation of the yuan.

"Several US lawmakers (Republican and Democrat) have followed Trump's lead this week in raising concerns about the yuan's depreciation," the memo notes. It continues that the US Treasury "is taking a wait-and-see approach" but that "most mainstream US economists, along with the IMF [International Monetary Fund], have noted the yuan's longer-term appreciation, and commended China for taking further steps towards a floating exchange rate system."

Below the conclusion is a graph of the exchange rate for the yuan, showing that the value of the yuan has fluctuated for the past three years, but that its value has stayed roughly consistent and has stabilized since 2015.

The IMF actually argued last summer that the yuan is no longer undervalued. And steps towards bringing the currency to a floating exchange rate system would reduce Beijing's ability to manipulate its value, which Trump has railed against.

There's good reason why Canada would be paying particular attention to Trump's rise, given that his hypothetical administration could have huge impacts for Ottawa and its relationship with Beijing.

Canada, like the United States, maintains a massive trade deficit with China — Canada's was some $35 billion USD in 2015, while America's hit a record high of $365 billion — and both countries are keenly interested in exporting oil and natural gas to the Communist state.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recently tried hard to avoid commenting on Trump, but told a townhall meeting in December that he condemns the sort of "hateful rhetoric" peddled by Trump, and went on to say that Trump was "scaring people" — without mentioning the candidate by name.

More recently, he's said that he'll work with whoever becomes president, and added in a press conference with President Barack Obama that: "I have tremendous confidence in the American people."