China watch: Taiwan to host Halifax security forum event in 2022

The organisers of North America’s premier security conference will hold an additional event in Taiwan in January next year.

While HFX organises the Halifax International Security Forum in the city of that name in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia every year, this will be first foray into another territory.

The choice of Taiwan is significant as the forum has in recent times, focused on the challenges posed by China and announced earlier this year that it will award the prestigious John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service to the President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen. The forum is partly supported by the Canadian government and it is customary of the country’s defence minister to open the annual event.

HFX Taipei will be held over a period of three days in the Taiwanese capital. In a statement, HFX president Peter van Praagh said, “HFX will celebrate the courage and achievements of one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies by holding a landmark international security forum in Taipei.”

“All people who value democracy will immediately recognise the importance of showing solidarity with the Taiwanese people at this time,” he added.

It is expected that President Tsai will receive her honour in Taipei which will ensure the Canadian government does not have to deal with the nettlesome issue of having to host the Taiwanese leader.

The forum will be held, as usual, in November this year in Halifax.

Relations between Canada and China remain cold since Beijing arrested two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, days after a senior executive of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 for possible deportation to the US with relation to a case of alleged defrauding of a bank to sidestep sanctions against the Iranian regime.

The trial continues in Canada while Ottawa has described the detention of the Canadians as “hostage diplomacy” and accused Beijing of holding sham trials for the two Michaels.

The Taipei event will be held in association with Taiwan’s Institute for National Defence and Security Research or INDSR.

The Halifax Forum has been branded “as the world’s leading security gathering for democracies”.

HFX has taken a strong line against China and issued a 101-page handbook, titled “China vs Democracy: The Greatest Game”, prior to its November 2020 event. The handbook stated that the People’s Republic of China or PRC was “intent on undermining democracy abroad” including in India and focused on the significant role that the Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue could play as a bulwark against Beijing’s expansionism. The Quad was formed in 2007 and comprises India, the United States, Australia and Japan.