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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will ensure members of Parliament consider all the possible consequences of a trade trip to Taiwan.
The House of Commons international trade committee is seeking budget approval to make a visit to the country this fall.
But there are fears it could escalate tensions with China, which condemned a visit to Taipei by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.
China regards the island of Taiwan as its territory and Beijing imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for her visit and held military drills around the country.
Trudeau said Friday that members of Parliament make their own decisions about what their committees study and what travel they undertake.
"There are significant reflections going on right now," he said at a news conference in Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.
"Canada has a long-standing position around China and Taiwan that we will ensure to respect. China’s belligerence around this and their position is, of course, as it has been for a while, troubling," he added.
"We will ensure that the parliamentarians making the decision to travel or not will be done with all the reflections of the consequences and the impacts of it."
The committee of MPs hopes to visit both Taiwan and Singapore during the journey, although the Commons has not yet approved the committee’s budget for the trip.
New Democrat MP and committee member Brian Masse said earlier this week that Canadians "must support other democracies that have fought for their rights and freedoms."
Randy Hoback, Conservative MP and committee vice-chair, said MPs in a Canada-Taiwan parliamentary "friendship group" used to go to Taiwan about twice a year before COVID-19 restricted travel.
Hoback has previously visited the island, which is located about 160 kilometres off the coast of southeastern China, with the group.
But the Tory MP said he would want to consult Global Affairs Canada before making the trip now. "There’s no intent on my part to antagonize China," he said Wednesday.
During Pelosi’s visit, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly urged China to de-escalate tensions, saying legislators often make international visits and they should not be used to justify China’s decision to stage military drills.
A spokeswoman for Joly said earlier this week that parliamentary associations and friendship groups travel regularly and she respects their independence.
"Canada continues to have strong and growing trade and people-to-people ties with Taiwan," Emily Williams said.
"Canada is committed to maintaining the rules that have ensured peace and stability for decades, including across the Indo-Pacific region."
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada said it would give the parliamentary committee "full support" for a visit that would allow for further conversations on issues including trade and investment, education and technology.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.
Two soldiers fold the national flag during the daily flag ceremony on the Liberty Square of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, July 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
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