Burton: Trudeau government at a crossroads in its dealings with China

Burton, McCuaig-Johnston, Mulroney, Glavin and others have been making these points for some time, and questioning the government’s response to date:

The new Trudeau government’s approach to China’s Communist Party regime is rife with dilemma. Support the business and political interests of the Laurentian élite, who are entwined in and conflicted by a Beijing engagement approach that eschews established norms of trade and diplomacy? Or adhere to Canadian middle-class values that make Canada the harmonious and tolerant society it is: decency, fairness, reciprocity, honesty, openness?

Canada’s policy on China was evidently too sensitive to handle during the recent election campaign; the Munk Centre’s scheduled foreign policy debate was cancelled after Justin Trudeau refused to appear.

But now it is new beginnings for a new government, time to reflect on the horrendous failures of our past engagement with China, time to do the necessary re-set in Canada’s national interest.

Against this desperate need for an open national debate, it is disappointing to see our government engaging in closed-door policy discussions led by Peter Harder (the government leader in the Senate), current and former senior officials of Global Affairs Canada, academics who favour engagement on Beijing’s terms, and business leaders with lucrative connections to Chinese Communist business networks closed to public scrutiny.

Now it is new beginnings for a new government, time to reflect on the horrendous failures of our past engagement with China, time to do the necessary re-set in Canada’s national interest.

On Nov. 19, the Public Policy Forum (lead partner: government of Canada) charged stakeholders in Canada-China relations $900 to access a one-day workshop and dinner in Ottawa, called “China and the Policy Implications of a new Cold War.” The pricey registration fee would be well beyond the budget of Canadian Tibetan, Uyghur or China human rights NGO activists, or Canadian media outlets. That would effectively mute voices who would like to know how Canada will address the cultural genocide of Turkic Muslims in China’s northwest, or the fate of the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong, or when Canada will take strong measures to convince China to release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

The PPF’s mandate is to “write a more sophisticated narrative for Canadians,” leading to “a more nuanced engagement” — evidently a mysterious doctrine best developed without wider participation.

The narrative that PPF is developing is that “the rise of China is bending the arc of history,” so Canada must “adjust rapidly to changing geopolitical realities arguably as profound as anything since the rise of the United States challenged the dominance of the British Empire in the late 19th century.” This rhetoric is certainly not based on sound comparative historiography, but it is in perfect harmony with that articulated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He demands that Canada join China’s “community of the common destiny of mankind” and support China’s rebuild of global trade infrastructure by participating in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” because as the U.S. declines, China will become the new global hegemon.

In other words, Canada should get with the program, because, as former Liberal cabinet stalwart Martin Cauchon said regarding Huawei’s expansion, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” But China does not have a record of trust in upholding international agreements. Once Huawei is installed, billions of dollars later, any Chinese commitment to allow Canadian monitoring of Huawei systems to ensure they are not being used to purloin data, or threaten Canadian critical infrastructure, is likely to be revoked. And there won’t be much we can do about it.

On Nov. 20, the day after the workshop, François-Philippe Champagne was appointed minister of Global Affairs, and Mary Ng was named minister of International Trade. Both are extensively on the record saying trade should be Canada’s priority for engaging China. What about concerns over China’s espionage and covert political influence activities in Canada, and Canadians’ alarm about engaging with a régime complicit in human rights violations against its own people, violating sovereignty in the South China Sea and using economic leverage to serve Beijing’s authoritarian political and strategic purposes? Such concerns must go by the wayside, because China has made clear it will not expand trade with Canada otherwise.

So now, the same policymakers who got it so very wrong on China in the past are setting Canada’s China agenda for the future. The question begs: What more does the Chinese Communist régime have to do to convince us that our “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” appeasement of China is actually disastrous to Canada’s domestic and global interests?

What we need is uncompromised, Canadian, level-headed good sense to be brought into play. Let’s hope that happens before it is too late.

Source: Burton: Trudeau government at a crossroads in its dealings with China

A red flag for Canada after the Putinization of Xi’s dictatorship: Charles Burton

Analysis of possible or likely impact on Chinese Canadians of interest:

….Any naive hopes for a peaceful evolution to democracy are shattered against the reality that China is now a one-man dictatorship yearning to restore the archaic political norms of China’s imperial past: subjects instead of citizens, the destiny of the country instead of individual or minority and collective entitlement to protection of their rights.

Moreover, another of the constitutional revisions adds “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” as the party’s ideological guide. In other words, whatever Mr. Xi says or does has the authority of supreme law in China.

The problem for Canada is that Mr. Xi has a fervent commitment to a meta-ideology that threatens the current, fraying liberal world order. His “Chinese dream of national restoration” demands that Canada and all Western countries become subsidiary participants in the Chinese-dominated “community of the common destiny of humankind,” linked by the massive “One Belt One Road” global infrastructure program. Under a previous empire, all roads led to Rome. Under Mr. Xi, all high-speed rail lines under heaven, shipping routes (including those via the Canadian Arctic) and air transport will pass through Beijing.

China is already aggressively rallying support from pro-mainland ethnic Chinese in Canada, as well China-friendly business lobbyists and politicians, through its United Front Work Department initiatives in Canada. If the political consensus in Canada is not to comply, expect China to retaliate. Britain, Australia and New Zealand have already refused to support the One Belt One Road plan; they will certainly incur Beijing’s wrath, starting with economic punishment as the stick, and promise of trade and investment benefits for compliance with China’s demands as the carrot.

The constitutional amendments also include new language about “the great revival of the Chinese race.” The threat to Chinese Canadians is that there is a much enhanced blood-and-belonging aspect to Mr. Xi’s constitutionally endorsed rhetoric. This overarching vision sees all ethnic Chinese – regardless of citizenship or number of generations abroad, even including children adopted from China – as obligated to respond to Chinese embassy pressures to facilitate China’s rise, through political support for Beijing and even treasonous espionage. Canadians with family in China are already feeling pressure to demonstrate their loyalty in this way. Canada must be doing much more to protect our citizens of ethnic Chinese origin from foreign interference.

Under Xi Jinping’s now unchallengeable dictatorship, the world is becoming more and more Chinese. We should ensure this does not mean that Canada has to become less and less Canadian.

via A red flag for Canada after the Putinization of Xi’s dictatorship – The Globe and Mail