Canada sees China as 'increasingly disruptive power,' to invest in Indo-Pacific security

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 20) — Amid rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Canada said it sees China as an "increasingly disruptive power" and disclosed that it will invest $700 million to help secure the Indo-Pacific region.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines' The Final Word, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly said Ottawa's stance on the East Asian giant is clear and reaffirmed the nation's position against threats in the WPS.

"Our stance regarding China is clear," she said. "We believe that the country is an increasingly disruptive power, which wants to change international norms to its favor."

"What we want to do is to continue to work with partners to make sure that we respect the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is so key to this region," the minister added. "We recognize the fact that the 2016 arbitral decision in favor of the Philippines is final and binding."

The official also conveyed Canada’s willingness to help the Philippines address “violations of its maritime sovereignty.”

She said one way of doing it is by providing satellite data to assist in tracking illegal fishing.

“We're a country that has a very long shore, the longest in the world," Joly said. "We have a shore on the Pacific, on the Atlantic, and at the same time in the Arctic. And so, we're experts when it comes to maritime law, and that's where we can really help the Philippines."

Meanwhile, the foreign minister also stressed Canada’s commitment to helping maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, as she noted that they intend to deploy more frigates in the area.

“Just this new frigate is in itself 500 million (dollars),” Joly said when asked how much of the $700 million investment will benefit the Philippines. “The rest of the funding is linked to cyber (security) and also making sure that we can work on training and intelligence.”

In March, the Canadian government expressed openness to work with the Philippines for possible maritime and military cooperation in the WPS.

"We are extremely committed to make sure that at the end of the day, Filipino people, Canadians, everybody in the region is able to continue to live in peace," Joly said.

The foreign minister is in Manila to discuss Ottawa's Indo-Pacific strategy, which seeks to promote economic and people-to-people ties, security cooperation and respect for international law.