Days after revealing that businessman Michael Spavor - who became the second Canadian citizen detained in China since Beijing warned it would retaliate against Canada for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver earlier this month - had been arrested for "threatening national security", the Communist Party made clear that this is only the beginning, and that Canada should expect "further escalation" as Beijing has no intentions of backing down - and every intention of sending a message to US allies that they should stay out of the still-simmering dispute between the world's two largest economies.
Via an editorial in the Global Times, an English-language Chinese media company considered to be a mouthpiece for the Communist Party, China accused Canada and other US allies of forming "a collective encirclement and suppression of Chinese high-tech enterprise Huawei" - likely a reference to the US's campaign to convince its allies to avoid Huawei equipment, citing its vulnerability to Chinese spies, as well as Canada's cooperation in Meng's detention - the editorial "suggested" that China should leverage its economic heft to deter US allies from taking actions contrary to China's interest.
By calling on its allies, the US has gradually formed a collective encirclement and suppression of Chinese high-tech enterprise Huawei. It is a wicked precedent.
Almost all US allies maintain active economic and trade ties with China, of which China is the biggest trading partner of many of them. China needs to urge these countries to keep neutral in the conflict between Washington and Beijing.
It is possible for China to achieve this goal to a considerable extent because China does not threaten the strategic security of the US and its allies and it is more conducive for them to pursue national interests by maintaining good ties with China than to follow the hard line of the US.
And if these countries continue to work against China to appease the US, China should not hesitate to retaliate.
However, this does not mean that Beijing will capitulate to them at every step. For those countries that seek to ingratiate themselves to the US without regard to China's interests, China should firmly fight back, causing a heaving price for them.
Though China should carefully pick and choose when to accommodate these intrusions and when to react, the editorial resolutely stated that Canada had "crossed a line" by detaining Meng.
Canada crossed the line by helping the US detain an executive of Huawei and China needs to clearly express that it doesn't accept it. If Canada were to ultimately extradite Meng Wanzhou to the US, it would certainly be at the cost of a backslide in China-Canada ties.
In addition, it would be a test for China's national will and wisdom to decide when to accommodate certain countries for decisions made while being caught between China and the US, and when to resolutely counter their damage to China's interests.
The editorial goes on to suggest that perhaps if China had taken a harder line against Australia when it became the first country to accept the US's advice and ban Huawei's equipment, other countries (like, maybe, Canada) would have thought twice about interfering.
Australia was the first to follow Washington in blocking Huawei devices. As Wu Xinbo, a scholar of Fudan University, pointed out in an interview with the Global Times, "If China firmly fought back on Australia's decisions, other countries might think twice before considering calling off Huawei's products."
China certainly will not overact, because such a move will isolate China and construct the outcome the US prefers. Beijing needs to meticulously select counter-targets to really make them learn a lesson.
When weighing retaliation against the US, China must focus on participants in the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance - particularly Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As we've previously reported, infiltrating the "Five Eyes" cabal has long been a focus for Chinese intelligence services.
And as it seeks to do this, China must be prepared for conflicts to escalate.
In this complicated game, China should focus on the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, especially Australia, New Zealand and Canada, who actively follow the US against China. The first two nations are far from the European continent and have a subtle distance with most Western countries. China is the largest trading partner of both Australia and New Zealand and the second largest of Canada, thus the country has enough means to counter them.
In the struggle with Canada, China needs to prepare for the possibility of conflict escalation. Beijing must take the contest seriously and maximize the support of international public opinion, leaving Western media no smear to slander its counterattacks as "degradation of China's opening-up."
China's new round of opening-up is in its ascendancy and in the wake of complicating external games for the country. No matter how difficult the situation is, sincere opening-up is not contradictory to a reasonable defense of China's interests.
Canadian officials have yet to learn much about the circumstances in which its two citizens have been detained, and China has given no indication that it will release them, despite Meng being granted bail last week.
And judging by the tone of this editorial, China doesn't plan to relent.