Canada announced its Indo-Pacific strategy on November 27, beginning with an investment of almost 2.3 billion Canadian dollars over the next five years.
The region is home to numerous security hotspots with potential global repercussions, and Canada’s strategy sees it engage as a regional security partner to protect its national interests and security.
Canada warns that China is becoming more assertive and growing in influence. “Canada will increase our military engagement and intelligence capacity as a means of mitigating coercive behavior and threats to regional security,” the document states. “Canada will deploy additional military assets and increase its investments in border and cybersecurity, as well as in intelligence. Canada will continue to build cooperative relationships with customs and law enforcement agencies across the region.”
“It is no secret that China is becoming increasingly assertive as it advances interests and values that are very different from ours,” Canada’s Minister for National Defence, Anita Anand, said on Sunday. “Canada will continue to have an open relationship with China. We will challenge China when we ought to, we will cooperate with China when we must, and we will work closely with our allies and partners to help maintain peace, security, and stability in the region.”
To advance Canada’s regional peace and security interests, Canada will invest over $720 million. This includes $492.9 million to reinforce Canada’s Indo-Pacific naval presence and increase Canadian Armed Forces participation in regional military exercises; and $47.3 million to launch a new multi-department initiative to help develop cybersecurity capacity in select regional partners. The Canadian government will also increase resources devoted to protecting Canadians from attempts by foreign states to influence them covertly or coercively.
The strategy says Canada will work with allies to boost awareness of the region and enhance resilience and preparedness, as well as to protect against coercive tactics and the theft of sensitive data, technology and intellectual property from companies and research organizations. In addition, the strategy notes that the impact of climate change on security amplifies the need to work with regional partners to improve resilience to climate-related disasters. “Canada’s military will work with its counterparts and share best practices to improve climate-related disaster resilience,” the document states.
As an Arctic nation, Canada is conscious that powers in the Indo-Pacific region are looking to the Arctic as a region of opportunity. “Canada is committed to maintaining the peace and stability of the region and the safety, health and resilience of Canadian Northern populations and Indigenous Peoples,” the strategy states. “At a time of accelerating impact of climate change and rising geopolitical competition, Canada will advance its standing as an Arctic power and uphold our Arctic sovereignty and the rules-based international order in our bilateral and multilateral engagement with Indo-Pacific countries on Arctic and polar affairs.”