The political storm between China and Canada continues to brew as the tirade affects imports and exports from both countries. Specifically, Canada released a report citing that they have detected hazardous contents in Chinese products and, as well as, the Chinese government against Canadian goods.
According to the list compiled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, officials flagged and intercepted almost 900 food products coming from China due to inadequate processing that could potentially serve harm upon consumption.
The inadequacies mentioned above involve faulty labels, unmentioned allergens, and harmful contaminants that included glass and metal or gum balls with “extraneous” metal, to three-minute chow mein that contained an insect, and with spicy octopus flagged for a “non-specific hazard.”
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in an emailed statement that the issues in the CFIA list do not necessarily correlate to a particular problem with imported food products from foreign countries.
“This is a list of cases reported to the CFIA that informs operational and follow-up activities to verify compliance and take any appropriate actions, in accordance with laws and regulations,” Bibeau said.
“The Canadian food safety system is strong and recognized as one of the best in the world and the government is confident in all products approved by the CFIA as safe for local consumption as well as for export.”
The CFIA list was a compilation of “detected problems” that comprises two years back between the beginning of 2017 to February of this year.
However, the Chinese government, on the other hand, has been making significant moves against Candian products, specifically citing its agricultural and poultry goods.
In June this year, China has released a ban on Canadian pork and beef because of a banned feed additive called ractopamine that was discovered in a shipment. Notably, ractopamine is not banned in North America, but Canada decided to nearly ban its use completely.
In light of the situation, Canadian officials conducted an investigation over the alleged meat shipments, and the CFIA determined that the export certificate for the shipment was fabricated.
“This certificate, as well as pork products which accompanied the certificate, are of unknown origin and not related to the Canadian food inspection system,” said Bibeau in a statement. Meanwhile, a statement by China’s embassy in Ottawa said the investigation uncovered at least 188 forged veterinary health certificates and argued the Canadian system had “obvious safety loopholes.”
Before the ban, exports to China saw a dramatic increase mainly due to the large demand from the country amidst the on-going African swine flu fever ravaging their poultry. In the first five months of this year, Canada shipped $420m worth of pork, almost double the same period in 2018. Meanwhile, beef shipments jumped 300% to $82m.
On other products, China has also blocked imports on Canadian canola seeds citing that pests were discovered in some shipments, a charge Canada firmly denies. However, the country is having a hard time sending officials to investigate and validate the matter.
Overall canola exports fell by C$47 million (US$47.91 million) in April, or 14.7%, as shipments to China stopped, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.
“We are… worried about their actions on canola and the potential for other actions against other products,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a televised news conference last June.
From a political point of view, China’s moves are meant to pressure the democratic country to release Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer from Canadian detention.
In December last year, Canadian officials detained Wanzhou at a Canadian airport on behalf of the United States under claims of national security and also with bank and wire fraud to violate American sanctions against Iran.
Both Wanzhou and Huawei denied the allegations and has counter-filed a lawsuit alleging that she was illegally detained.
Meanwhile, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on December 10th, shortly after Meng’s alleged illegal detention.
In light of current situation between US-China political proceedings, however, the rift between China and Canada may be alleviated as US President Donald Trump said in a series of tweets after the G20 summit that he met with Chinese President Xi Jin Ping and that he “had a great meeting with President Xi of China yesterday, far better than expected.”
Furthermore, he said that “importantly, we have opened up negotiations again with China as our relationship with them continues to be a very good one. The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed. I am in no hurry, but things look very good!”