China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor

Speaks for itself:

Muslim inmates from internment camps in far western China hunched over sewing machines, in row after row. They were among hundreds of thousands who had been detained and spent month after month renouncing their religious convictions. Now the government was showing them on television as models of repentance, earning good pay — and political salvation — as factory workers.

China’s ruling Communist Party has said in a surge of upbeat propaganda that a sprawling network of camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty, backwardness and the temptations of radical Islam.

But mounting evidence suggests a system of forced labor is emerging from the camps, a development likely to intensify international condemnation of China’s drastic efforts to control and indoctrinate a Muslim ethnic minority population of more than 12 million in Xinjiang.

Accounts from the region, satellite images and previously unreported official documents indicate that growing numbers of detainees are being sent to new factories, built inside or near the camps, where inmates have little choice but to accept jobs and follow orders.

“These people who are detained provide free or low-cost forced labor for these factories,” said Mehmet Volkan Kasikci, a researcher in Turkey who has collected accounts of inmates in the factories by interviewing relatives who have left China. “Stories continue to come to me,” he said.

China has defied an international outcry against the vast internment program in Xinjiang, which holds Muslims and forces them to renounce religious piety and pledge loyalty to the party. The emerging labor program underlines the government’s determination to continue operating the camps despite calls from United Nations human rights officials, the United States and other governments to close them.

A satellite image taken in September shows an internment camp in Xinjiang. The buildings in the upper left corner appear to be of a design commonly used by factories.CreditTerraserver/Digital Globe

The program aims to transform scattered Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities — many of them farmers, shopkeepers and tradespeople — into a disciplined, Chinese-speaking industrial work force, loyal to the Communist Party and factory bosses, according to official plans published online.

These documents describe the camps as vocational training centers and do not specify whether inmates are required to accept assignments to factories or other jobs. But pervasive restrictions on the movement and employment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, as well as a government effort to persuade businesses to open factories around the camps, suggest that they have little choice.

Independent accounts from inmates who have worked in the factories are rare. The police block attempts to get near the camps and closely monitor foreign journalists who travel to Xinjiang, making it all but impossible to conduct interviews in the region. And most Uighurs who have fled Xinjiang did so before the factory program grew in recent months.

But Serikzhan Bilash, a founder of Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights, an organization in Kazakhstan that helps ethnic Kazakhs who have left neighboring Xinjiang, said he had interviewed relatives of 10 inmates who had told their families that they were made to work in factories after undergoing indoctrination in the camps.

They mostly made clothes, and they called their employers “black factories,” because of the low wages and tough conditions, he said.

Mr. Kasikci also described several cases based on interviews with family members: Sofiya Tolybaiqyzy, who was sent from a camp to work in a carpet factory. Abil Amantai, 37, who was put in a camp a year ago and told relatives he was working in a textile factory for $95 a month. Nural Razila, 25, who had studied oil drilling but after a year in a camp was sent to a new textile factory nearby.

“It’s not as though they have a choice of whether they get to work in a factory, or what factory they are assigned to,” said Darren Byler, a lecturer at the University of Washington who studies Xinjiang and visited the region in April.

He said it was safe to conclude that hundreds of thousands of detainees could be compelled to work in factories if the program were put in place at all of the region’s internment camps.

The Xinjiang government did not respond to faxed questions about the factories, nor did the State Council Information Office, the central government agency that answers reporters’ questions.

The documents detail plans for inmates, even those formally released from the camps, to take jobs at factories that work closely with the camps to continue to monitor and control them. The socks, suits, skirts and other goods made by these laborers would be sold in Chinese stores and could trickle into overseas markets.

Kashgar, an ancient, predominantly Uighur area of southern Xinjiang that is a focus of the program, reported that in 2018 alone it aimed to send 100,000 inmates who had been through the “vocational training centers” to work in factories, according to a plan issued in August.

That figure may be an ambitious political goal rather than a realistic target. But it suggests how many Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities may be held in the camps and sent to factories. Scholars have estimated that as many as one million people have been detained. The Chinese government has not issued or confirmed any figures.

“I don’t see China yielding an inch on Xinjiang,” said John Kamm, the founder of the Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that lobbies China on human rights issues. “Now it seems we have entrepreneurs coming in and taking advantage of the situation.”

The evolution of the Xinjiang camps echoes China’s “re-education through labor” system, where citizens once were sent without trial to toil for years. China abolished “re-education through labor” five years ago, but Xinjiang appears to be creating a new version.

Retailers in the United States and other countries should guard against buying goods made by workers from the Xinjiang camps, which could violate laws banning imports produced by prison or forced labor, Mr. Kamm said.

While the bulk of clothes and other textile goods manufactured in Xinjiang ends up in domestic and Central Asian markets, some makes its way to the United States and Europe.

Badger Sportswear, a company based in North Carolina, last month received a container of polyester knitted T-shirts from Hetian Taida, a company in Xinjiang that was shown on a prime-time state television broadcast promoting the camps.

The program showed workers at a Hetian Taida plant, including a woman who was described as a former camp inmate. But the small factory did not appear to be on a camp site, and it is unclear whether it made the T-shirts sent to North Carolina.

Ginny Gasswint, a Badger Sportswear executive, said the company had ordered a small amount of products from Xinjiang, and used Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, a nonprofit certification organization, to ensure that its suppliers meet standards.

Seth Lennon, a spokesman for Worldwide, said that Hetian Taida had only recently enrolled in its program, and the organization had no information on possible coerced labor in Xinjiang. “We will certainly look into this,” he said.

Repeated calls over several days to Wu Hongbo, the chairman of Hetian Taida, went unanswered.

Satellite imagery suggests that production lines are being built inside some internment camps.

A state television broadcast promoting the internment camps showed textile workers at a company named Hetian Taida. The company shipped T-shirts to North Carolina last month.

Images of one camp featured in the state television broadcast, for example, show 10 to 12 large buildings with a single-story, one-room design commonly used for factories, said Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The buildings are surrounded by fencing and security towers, indicating that they are heavily guarded like the rest of the camp.

“It seems unlikely that any detainee would be able to go to any building that they were not taken to,” Mr. Ruser said.

Commercial registration records also show at least a few companies have been established this year at addresses inside internment camps. They include a printing factory, a noodle factory and at least twoclothing and textile manufacturers at camps in rural areas around Kashgar. Another clothing and bedding manufacturer is registered in a camp in Aksu in northwestern Xinjiang.

The government’s effort to connect the internment camps with factories emerged this year as the number of detainees climbed and Xinjiang faced rising costs to build and run the camps.

Many camps were once called “transformation through education centers” by the government, reflecting their mission: inducing inmates to cast aside Islamic devotion and accept Communist Party supremacy.

But since August, the Chinese government has defended the camps by arguing that they are job training centers that will help lift detainees and their families out of poverty by giving them the skills to join China’s economic mainstream. Many rural Uighurs speak little Chinese, and language training has been advertised as one of the main purposes of the camps.

Yet the practical training in the camps often appears to be rudimentary, said Adrian Zenz, a social scientist at the European School of Culture and Theology who has studied the campaign.

An early hint of the factory labor program came in March when Sun Ruizhe, the president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, described it to senior industry representatives, according to a transcript of his speech that was posted on industry websites.

Mr. Sun said that Xinjiang planned to recruit from three main sources to increase the textile and garment sector’s work force by more than 100,000 in 2018: impoverished households, struggling relatives of prisoners and detainees, and the camp inmates, whose training “could be combined with developing the textile and apparel section.”

In April, the Xinjiang government began rolling out a plan to attract textile and garment companies. Local governments would receive funds to build production sites for them near the camps; companies would receive a subsidy of $260 to train each inmate they took on, as well other incentives.

In remarks in October defending the camps, a top official in Xinjiang, Shohrat Zakir, said the government was busy preparing “job assignments” for inmates formally finishing indoctrination and training. A budget document this year from Yarkant, a county in Kashgar, said the camps were responsible for “employment services.”

The inmates assigned to factories may have to stay for years.

Mr. Byler said a relative of a Uighur friend was sent to an indoctrination camp in March and formally released this fall. But he was then told he had to work for up to three years in a clothing factory.

A government official, Mr. Byler said, suggested to his friend’s family that if the relative worked hard, his time in the factory might be reduced.

The Chinese state media has praised the centers as leading wayward people toward modern civilization. It also reports that the workers are generously paid.

“The training will turn them from ‘nomads’ into skilled marvels,” the official Xinjiang Daily said last month. “Education and training will make them into ‘modern people,’ useful to society.”

Source: China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor

Is China’s atheist Communist Party trying to eradicate Islam?

As they have tried for other religions:

Green-domed mosques still dominate the skyline of China’s “Little Mecca”, but they have undergone a profound change – no longer do boys flit through their stone courtyards en route to classes and prayers.

In what locals said they fear is a deliberate move to eradicate Islam, the atheist ruling Communist Party has banned children under 16 from religious activity or study in Linxia, a deeply Islamic region in western China’s Gansu province that had offered a haven of comparative religious freedom for the ethnic Hui Muslims there.

China governs Xinjiang, another majority Muslim region in its far west, with an iron fist to weed out what it calls “religious extremism” and “separatism” in the wake of deadly unrest, throwing ethnic Uygurs into shadowy re-education camps without due process for minor infractions such as owning a Koran or even growing a beard.

Now, Hui Muslims fear similar surveillance and repression.

“The winds have shifted” in the past year, said a senior imam who requested anonymity. “Frankly, I’m very afraid they’re going to implement the Xinjiang model here.”

Local authorities have severely curtailed the number of people over 16 officially allowed to study in each mosque and limited certification processes for new imams.

They have also instructed mosques to display national flags and stop sounding the call to prayer to reduce “noise pollution” – with loudspeakers removed entirely from all 355 mosques in a neighbouring county.

“They want to secularise Muslims, to cut off Islam at the roots,” the imam said, shaking with barely restrained emotion. “These days, children are not allowed to believe in religion: only in communism and the party.”

More than 1,000 boys used to attend his mid-sized mosque to study Koranic basics during summer and winter school holidays but now they are banned from even entering the premises.

His classrooms are still full of huge Arabic books from Saudi Arabia, browned with age and bound in heavy leather. But only 20 officially registered pupils over the age of 16 are now allowed to use them.

Parents were told the ban on extracurricular Koranic study was for their children’s own good, so they could rest and focus on secular coursework. But most are utterly panicked.

“We’re scared, very scared. If it goes on like this, after a generation or two, our traditions will be gone,” said Ma Lan, a 45-year-old caretaker, tears dripping quietly into her uneaten bowl of beef noodle soup.

Inspectors checked her local mosque every few days during the last school holiday to ensure none of the 70 or so village boys were present.

Their imam initially tried holding lessons in secret before sunrise but soon gave up, fearing repercussions.

Instead of studying five hours a day at the mosque, her 10-year-old son stayed home watching television. She said he dreamed of being an imam, but his schoolteachers had encouraged him to make money and become a communist cadre.

The Hui number nearly 10 million, half the country’s Muslim population, according to 2012 government statistics.

In Linxia, they have historically been well integrated with the ethnic Han majority, able to openly express their devotion and centre their lives around their faith.

Women in headscarves dish out boiled lamb in mirror-panelled halal eateries while streams of white-hatted men meander into mosques for afternoon prayers, passing shops hawking rugs, incense and “eight treasure tea”, a local speciality including dates and dried chrysanthemum buds.

But in January, local officials signed a decree pledging to ensure that no individual or organisation would “support, permit, organise or guide minors towards entering mosques for Koranic study or religious activities”, or push them towards religious beliefs.

“I cannot act contrary to my beliefs. Islam requires education from cradle to grave. As soon as children are able to speak we should begin to teach them our truths,” he said.

“It feels like we are slowly moving back towards the repression of the Cultural Revolution,” he said, referring to a nationwide purge from 1966 until 1976 when local mosques were dismantled or turned into donkey sheds.

Other imams complained authorities were issuing fewer certificates required to practise or teach and now only to graduates of state-sanctioned institutions.

“For now, there are enough of us, but I fear for the future. Even if there are still students, there won’t be anyone of quality to teach them,” one imam said.

Local authorities failed to answer repeated calls seeking comment but Linxia’s youth ban comes as China rolls out its newly revised Religious Affairs Regulations.

The rules have intensified punishments for unsanctioned religious activities across all faiths and regions.

Beijing was targeting minors “as a way to ensure that faith traditions die out while also maintaining the government’s control over ideological affairs”, said William Nee, a China researcher at Amnesty International.

Another imam said the tense situation in Xinjiang was at the root of changes in Linxia.

The government believed that “religious piety fosters fanaticism, which spawns extremism, which leads to terrorist acts – so they want to secularise us”, he said.

But many Hui are quick to distinguish themselves from Uygurs.

“They believe in Islam too, but they’re violent and bloodthirsty. We’re nothing like that,” said Muslim hairdresser Ma Jiancai, 40, drawing on common stereotypes.

Sitting under the elegant eaves of a Sufi shrine complex, a young scholar from Xinjiang said his family had sent him alone aged five to Linxia to study the Koran with a freedom not possible in his hometown.

“Things are very different here,” he said with knitted brows. “I hope to stay.”

Source: Is China’s atheist Communist Party trying to eradicate Islam?

Douglas Todd: Who cares for Canada’s 71,000 minor international students?

Looks like some opportunity for a more systematic study and evaluation to guide current and future policy. Potential for abuse clearly present:

The client strode into George Lee’s office believing the veteran immigration lawyer would automatically notarize the federal government document that would confirm the client was the legal “custodian” of 10 international students who are minors.

But Lee wouldn’t approve the client’s business plan. The Burnaby immigration specialist knows the intense pressure and loneliness experienced by many young foreign students, who tend to come to Canada from the ages of 12 to 15. Since they’re vulnerable to isolation, depression and suicide, he realizes many need real care.

“I asked the person who wanted to be custodian to 10 minor students: ‘Why do you do this for so many children? What are your responsibilities to them?’ In the end I refused to sign. I refused. I couldn’t do it. This is a burgeoning business in B.C.,” said Lee, who is concerned about the rapidly expanding cohort of early teens coming as foreign students to Canada.

The number of international students in Canada last year reached 500,000, with more than 71,000 being minors, double the total in 2009. B.C. has an out-sized proportion of those aged 17 or less — 24,000, according to the federal immigration department. That is more people than attend an average Whitecaps or Lions game at B.C. Place Stadium.

Since last year’s suicide in Richmond of 17-year-old foreign student Linhai Yu, a little more attention is being focused in B.C. on the thousands of minors trying to make a go of attending the country’s public and private elementary and high schools, while living thousands of kilometres away from their fathers and mothers.

With roughly one third of all foreign students in Canada (about 40 per cent of those in B.C.) hailing from China, the country’s consul general in Vancouver acknowledged more students are arriving before university and many have been involved in “incidents” in the past two years. An informal group led by SFU international student Jialin Guo, who himself came to Canada as a minor, has arisen to try to raise awareness of students who are struggling.

The federal government has few stipulations about who can become an official custodian of a minor foreign student, a service for which offshore parents pay roughly $2,000 to $4,000 a year. All the immigration department asks is that “a custodian is a responsible adult (a Canadian citizen or permanent resident) who takes care of and supports the child.”

There is no requirement the custodian resides with the minor, who normally ends up renting on their own or boarding with a host family. The custodian is supposed to be a kind of legal surrogate parent, meeting with school officials, paying school fees (which typically cost $10,000 to $18,000 per year), monitoring the students’ health and taking over in emergencies.

“There’s a lot of psychological issues with minor students. They have a lot of pressure. Loneliness,” said Lee, who travels frequently to China and generally wonders about the wisdom of children being separated from parents at a young age.

“They need love, devotion and attention from their parents, not to be sent away to a foreign country to reside mostly with strangers. Many foreign students from China know that, culturally, they cannot report negativity to their parents back home because they have spent a lot of money investing in them. If they report negativity, they can be scolded. Their parents generally think if other children can excel in a foreign land, why can’t you?”

Lee and Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland believe one of the latest migration trends in China and other countries is for parents to send their children to Canada, which has no cap on foreign students, to attend high school and even elementary school so they will be at a competitive advantage when later applying to immigrate.

“Since they are coming as young children,” said Lee, “their parents believe they will adapt much easier to Canadian culture and language and the workplace” and thus be ranked highly when they apply for permanent resident status. Most Chinese foreign students who are minors, Lee said, have the added pressure of knowing their parents, many of whom invest in property in Canada’s major cities, expect them to eventually sponsor them to immigrate.

Gary Liu, a scientist who tutors many minor-age foreign students in Coquitlam and Surrey, said there is a great deal of variation in how such students are faring with learning English, being largely unsupervised and adjusting to Canadian culture and people.

“The situation for each child can only be described as ‘case by case,’” Liu said. While some young students appear to get quite a bit of attention from various caregivers, he knows some adult custodians who are coordinating three or four different students, all of whom live separately.

“I’m not sure if ‘abuse’ is the right term for such situations,” Liu said, “but some of the (custodians) are definitely pushing the boundaries.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Who cares for Canada’s 71,000 minor international students?

New immigration bureau set up to handle growing number of foreigners in China

Not surprising, part of the Ministry of Public Security:

The growing trend of people emigrating to and from China has prompted Beijing to set up a new agency to coordinate immigration policies and their implementation.

It comes as Beijing ramps up measures to attract more skilled foreigners to China for work – efforts that are often undermined by red tape, particularly the complicated visa application process.

Managed by the Ministry of Public Security, the new immigration bureau will be responsible for overseeing visas, repatriation of people found to be in the country illegally, and border control. It will also provide exit and entry services for Chinese nationals.

In addition, the Ministry of Science and Technology will take over the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, which handles employment of foreigners, under a government reshuffle plan tabled on Tuesday at the National People’s Congress.

“Along with the rise of China’s power, an increasing number of foreigners have come to work and live in this country, which means better immigration services are needed,” State Councillor Wang Yong told some 3,000 lawmakers at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The plan is expected to be endorsed by the NPC later this week.

There were more than 900,000 foreigners working on mainland China in 2016, according to official data, compared with only 10,000 in the 1980s.

China meanwhile granted permanent residency to 1,576 foreigners in 2016 – a 163 per cent jump from the previous year – under a “green card” scheme that began in 2004.

The number of Chinese going to live in other countries is also on the rise, going from 4.1 million in 1990 to 9.3 million in 2013, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

But moving to China for work is no easy task for foreigners. Applying to work in the country can be a lengthy and difficult process, with an employment visa and a residence permit required. Foreigners must also register with local police within 24 hours of arrival, and when moving to a new place.

Israeli Eli Beck, founder of EDB-China, which offers business development services between China and Israel, said he welcomed the move to set up a new immigration bureau.

“In the past when we applied for a work visa and residency permit, we used to wait in lines, file our applications and then go to other locations to file another document. It’s time-consuming and complicated,” Beck said.

He added that some of his colleagues had applied for a Chinese green card, but none were successful.

“The requirements are very strict and very demanding. I guess very few [foreign] people qualify for it,” Beck said.

An official at a Shanghai immigration checkpoint run by the public security ministry said his department would come under the new agency, with the aim of providing a one-stop service.

“In the future, various departments dealing with different immigration issues will come under the bureau’s umbrella. It will be more convenient – both for us government officials and for people who need immigration services,” said the official, who declined to be named.

“But I don’t think it will be easier for foreigners to get green cards because there’s no change to the rules there. Applicants will still have to put together all the same paperwork.”

Wang Huiyao, director of the Centre for China and Globalisation, a think tank in Beijing, said it was high time an immigration bureau was set up.

“With so many departments involved and a complicated application process, moving to China can be a real headache for foreigners and the bureaucracy has also put off international talent from coming here,” Wang said, adding that a central agency could provide a better service and more welcoming atmosphere.

Beijing-based lawyer Jiang Junlu, who specialises in labour issues and social security, said China needed to do more to lure skilled workers from overseas. He added that Beijing should also get tough on those who are in the country illegally and managing people with multiple nationalities, without elaborating.

Source: New immigration bureau set up to handle growing number of foreigners in 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

Trudeau is delivering the foreign policy Canadians deserve: David Mulroney

Good commentary by our former Ambassador to China (and former foreign service colleague of mine). Not unique to Chinese and Indo-Canadians, comparable issues arise with respect to Ukrainian Canadians and Canadian Jews with respect to foreign policy:

The best that can be said about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India is that it may prompt a review, if not a complete rethinking of a Canadian foreign policy that appears to be seriously off the rails. We have some hard lessons to learn.

At the very least, the Prime Minister’s debacle in India should encourage smart people in Ottawa to zero in on what isn’t working.

Most worrying is a fundamental and puzzling failure at the level of policy implementation, something that appears to be compounded by the Prime Minister’s own impetuosity. Flying to India before the big meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the bag, much like heading off to Beijing on a free-trade themed visit without any reasonable expectation that a deal was doable, exposes Mr. Trudeau to a degree of prolonged public skepticism that comes to define the visit itself.

Ottawa’s obsession with exotic photo-ops is a less likely candidate for serious review, given its long and undistinguished lineage through such past devotees as Stephen Harper and Jean Chrétien. But we can at least hope that the Trudeau version of this practice may get dialled down. Through his rapid succession of exotic costume changes, Mr. Trudeau managed to do to his own image what Alec Baldwin does, through similarly comic exaggeration, to Donald Trump’s on Saturday Night Live.

Even harder to banish will be our obsession with diaspora politics. No one is denying that we derive wonderful advantages from our multicultural society. But other multicultural countries, such as the United States, Australia and Britain, are far less inclined to view their international interests so completely through the prism of diaspora communities. We need to understand that Canada’s interests in India are not entirely the same as those of influential portions of the Indo-Canadian community or of the Sikh-Canadian subset of that community. Worse, our continuing insistence on the political importance of diaspora groups makes it more likely that their countries of origin – and this is particularly true of China and India – will be inclined to interfere in Canadian affairs.

These persistent problems point to an inconvenient truth: The problem isn’t with politicians, it’s with all of us. We’re getting the foreign policy we deserve. We seem unable to grasp that our engagement of countries such as India and China ultimately needs to be about something more than reminding them of how much they admire us.

India isn’t our friend. It is a rising regional power beset with a range of domestic problems, including serious human rights issues. It takes a prickly approach to global issues that is often at odds with traditional Canadian policies in areas ranging from trade policy to nuclear disarmament.

The Indian diplomats I worked with could be wonderfully pleasant after the official day was done. But, for the most part, they brought a formidably ruthless precision to their pursuit of India’s interests in the world. While they might ultimately agree to grant Canada a concession, this was always a product of hard and often heated negotiations. They never conceded a point because they liked us or because we are home to a large Indo-Canadian community.

My experience with Chinese diplomats was entirely similar.

Long before the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, it should have been clear to us that the world is changing in ways that do not align with traditional Canadian views, interests and values. If we’re smart, the rise of countries like China and India can certainly contribute to our prosperity, and with hard work, we should be able to find common cause on important issues such as global warming.

But the rise of these assertive and ambitious Asian powers will almost certainly challenge global and regional security. Both will also continue to reject traditional Canadian notions about global governance and human rights, and neither will be particularly squeamish about interfering in Canadian affairs.

The Trump era should convince us that we can no longer rely entirely on the protective cover of a globally engaged America. We need to be smart and hard-nosed when it comes to promoting and defending our own interests. Photo ops and costume changes won’t cut it any more.

via Trudeau is delivering the foreign policy Canadians deserve – The Globe and Mail

Unfettered hate speech fuels Chinese fear of Islam | The Japan Times

Of interest:

A flood of angry anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media was the first sign of how fiercely suburban middle-class homeowners in the central Chinese city of Hefei opposed a planned mosque in their neighborhood. It quickly escalated into something more sinister.

Soon a pig’s head was buried in the ground at the future Nangang mosque, the culmination of a rally in which dozens of residents hoisted banners and circled the planned building site.

Then the mosque’s imam received a text message carrying a death threat: “In case someone in your family dies, I have a coffin for you — and more than one, if necessary.”

“How did things get stirred up to this point?” the imam, Tao Yingsheng, said in a recent interview. “Who had even heard of the Nangang mosque before?”

On the dusty plains of the Chinese heartland, the bitter fight over the mosque exemplifies how a surge in anti-Muslim sentiment online is spreading into communities across China, exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions that have in the past erupted in bloodshed. It is also posing a dilemma for the ruling Communist Party, which has allowed Islamophobia to fester online for years as part of its campaign to justify security crackdowns in the restive region of Xinjiang.

“It has let the genie out of the bottle,” said James Leibold, a professor at La Trobe University in Australia who has tracked the growth of anti-Muslim hate speech on China’s internet.

Interviews with residents and an examination of social media show how a few disparate online complaints by local homeowners evolved into a concerted campaign to spread hate.

Key to it was an unexpected yet influential backer: a Chinese propaganda official, 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) away in Xinjiang, whose inflammatory social media posts helped draw people into the streets on New Year’s Day, resulting in a police crackdown.

First mosque in 1780s

A stone inscription outside its gate shows the original Nangang mosque was established in the 1780s by members of the Hui minority, the descendants of Silk Road traders who settled across China centuries ago. In its present form, the mosque has served the area’s 4,500 Hui for decades, its domed silhouette partially hidden by overgrown shrubs in the countryside beyond Hefei’s last paved boulevards.

Over the past 10 years urbanization has come to Hefei, with sprawling development reconfiguring the landscape and its demographic flavor, and Hui leaders had been pushing for years to relocate their mosque to a more convenient urban location.

City planners in November finally selected a site adjacent to the newly built Hangkong New City condominiums, with its $200,000 two-bedroom units, faux-Mediterranean styling and a Volvo dealership across the street.

The project’s homeowners — overwhelmingly members of China’s ethnic Han majority — began complaining on China’s popular microblog Weibo. Some complained the mosque would occupy space promised for a park. Others warned that safety in the area would be compromised.

Others were more blunt: Han residents were uncomfortable that a center for Hui community life would be less than 100 meters from their building, a homeowner who later identified himself in messages to the AP by his surname, Cheng, wrote in a petition posted in December. “And the less said about what happens on Eid al-Adha, the better,” Cheng wrote, referring to the Islamic holiday in which animals are slaughtered for a sacrificial feast. “It’s absolutely shocking.”

Source: Unfettered hate speech fuels Chinese fear of Islam | The Japan Times

Canada deports hundreds to China each year with no treatment guarantee

The large number of deportations to China reflects in part the large number of immigrants from China: 1,386 deportations compared to over 78,000 immigrants, or 1.8 percent (2013-15).

However, this is more than other large source countries like the Philippines and India. Given lack of due process in Chinese courts, this concern is not misplaced with respect to corruption cases:

The Canadian government is deporting hundreds of people to China each year without receiving any assurances that they will not be tortured or otherwise mistreated, statistics provided to The Globe and Mail reveal.

Canada and China do not have a formal extradition treaty, and the Trudeau government has signalled that it may not complete such a deal out of concern about abuses in the Chinese justice system.

The lack of such a deal has not, however, stopped Canada from sending people back to China. The Canada Border Services Agency has used deportation, expelling 1,386 people to China over the past three years, according to agency statistics.

It’s a process that lawyers, academics and former diplomats say offers too few protections against the mistreatment deportees might endure.

It also places Canada at risk of using evidence rooted in coerced confessions as Canadian authorities make decisions on ejecting people, particularly those sought by Beijing as part of its sweeping global Skynet operation to chase people it calls corrupt fugitives.

When people are returned to a country such as China, “there’s a need for very significant and enforceable assurances about the treatment they will receive and monitoring on the part of Canada – which Canada has not done,” said Sharryn Aiken, an expert on immigration and refugee law at Queen’s University.

“And in the absence of monitoring, people die in jail.”

The United Nations Committee against Torture has said that in China “the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal-justice system.”

Canada’s own foreign service recently signed its name to a letter saying there are “credible claims of torture” against people under interrogation in China.

Before deporting someone, Canadian immigration officials can conduct what is called a “preremoval risk assessment,” designed to evaluate whether a person is in danger of mistreatment upon return. “Due diligence is important before undertaking any removal measures,” said Nicholas Dorion, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency. That assessment is “in place to ensure that a person will not be removed to a country where they could face death or torture.”

But risk assessments are done entirely in Canada and do not include demands that China guarantee it will abide by certain standards of conduct, or allow Canada to monitor deportees.

“Many of us don’t feel it’s really an effective safeguard,” said Vancouver immigration lawyer Douglas Cannon. “Especially in the case of people who are being sent back to face prosecution in China.”

The potential for problems is serious enough that David Mulroney, the former Canadian ambassador to China, says Ottawa should refuse to co-operate with Beijing on most corruption cases, limiting joint law-enforcement work to public-safety cases involving people accused of murder or drug offences.

When China demands the return of people it calls corrupt, it is asking Canada “to send people back into a very murky and worrisome Chinese system,” he said. “You have to be very sure that you are not on the Canadian side enabling the Chinese to unfairly prosecute someone.”

Using Interpol

Ottawa does have the ability to demand assurances from countries such as China, as it did in the high-profile deportation of notorious smuggler Lai Changxing in 2011. Beijing pledged not to torture or execute the man it then considered its number one most-wanted. China also promised Canada extraordinary rights to monitor his treatment. Mr. Lai’s case, however, was a notable exception.

Canada maintains lists of countries to which deportations are either permanently or temporarily blocked, although it has exceptions for criminals and people deemed to be a security risk. Canada deported 6,964 people in 2016. Of those, 382 were sent to China, just more than 5 per cent of the total, CBSA statistics show. In recent years, Chinese citizens have been the fourth-most regularly deported from Canada, behind citizens of Hungary, the United States and Mexico.

Source: Canada deports hundreds to China each year with no treatment guarantee – The Globe and Mail

ICYMI: China trip may help Trudeau win Chinese-Canadian votes

Good and interesting analysis regarding the differences among Chinese Canadians voting patterns and the efforts by the Liberals and Conservatives to attract their votes. For the breakdown of major voting groups in the 33 ridings where visible minorities are in the majority, see 2015 Election Top 33 ridings more than 50 % visible minorities):

As Justin Trudeau tries to build economic ties during his first state visit to China, he may also be helping himself a little with a political goal back home: breaking through with the country’s largest immigrant group.

Among the very few disappointments for Mr. Trudeau’s campaign team, in last year’s election, was how their party fared with Chinese-Canadians. Liberal candidates did as well or better with just about every other demographic as they could reasonably hope; this was one with which they struggled, and the Conservatives retained strength, more than they anticipated.

Markham-Unionville, with the highest concentration of Chinese-Canadian voters of any riding nationally, was one of the very few Greater Toronto Area seats where the Liberals failed to top the Tories – and, according to members of Mr. Trudeau’s inner circle, the only seat in the country they wrongly expected to win.

 The one other riding where more than half of eligible voters are of Chinese descent, the Vancouver-area Richmond Centre, also proved beyond their grasp; narrower-than-expected margins in a few ridings they did win, notably in Toronto’s inner-suburb of Scarborough, suggested a pattern.

It’s one the Liberals need to break, as the country’s largest immigrant population – 1.5 million and growing – could yet be the difference in a close election.

But there are no shortcuts, in the form of goodwill from foreign trips or anything else, to breaking through. Based on conversations with party organizers who have worked on the ground in Chinese communities, the reality is more an array of complex factors that the Liberals will have to work hard to change.

Underscoring the nuance is a key distinction between families who came from Hong Kong, mostly through to the 1980s, and those who have come from mainland China in the past couple of decades. The general consensus is that the Liberals tended to do better with the former and the Conservatives with the latter in last year’s vote.

While that may have helped the Liberals at least significantly narrow the gap from 2011 in a riding like Richmond Centre, where many of the Chinese-Canadian voters have Hong Kong roots, it’s of little consolation since even there those voters are increasingly being overwhelmed by waves of mainland emigrants.

The Liberals’ election postmortems seemed to leave them with all sorts of explanations for why they’ve struggled with the newer arrivals.

The most popular of those explanations, among Mr. Trudeau’s top officials, is social conservatism. The Conservatives made a concerted effort to convince immigrant voters (not just Chinese-Canadians) that the Liberals would allow the sale of marijuana to children; in Ontario, the Liberals also had to contend with controversy around their provincial cousins’ sex-education changes.

While such concerns may have gotten traction among evangelicals with Hong Kong roots, Liberals say they especially heard about them from mainlanders new enough to Canada to be worried about the radicalism of a party they had not seen much (if at all) in power.

Those issues may have penetrated partly because the Tories out-advertised the Liberals in Chinese-Canadian media. And Conservative-friendly ownership of leading outlets such as Fairchild TV and the Sing Tao Daily newspaper helped the Tories get more positive earned media than the Liberals in primary news sources for many relative newcomers – if not as it related to hot-button social issues, then in how the leaders and their agendas were generally presented.

That ties into a whole bunch of other explanations floating around. The Liberals’ polling, according to a source familiar with it, suggested former mainlanders were receptive to what some other Canadians saw as Stephen Harper’s authoritarian streak, considering him a much stronger leader than Mr. Trudeau.

A veteran organizer in the Chinese community suggested economic conservatism was borne of relatively affluent recent arrivals being concerned about their assets’ safety from government intrusion. Just as earlier waves of immigrants had a positive association with the Liberals because that party was in power when they got here, more recent ones might have felt that way about the Tories.

Merely having won government may help the Liberals with that last factor, and some of the others besides. They can set to rest some of the more extravagant fears about their social liberalism by not legislating like radicals. Mr. Trudeau will seem stronger just by virtue of his office.

A trip like this week’s is a prime opportunity to forge better relations with Mandarin media outlets, while also getting copious coverage in them. (Although it also runs the risk of alienating some of their supporters who came here from Hong Kong, and are wary of Canada’s government cozying up to the Middle Kingdom.)

But there is also an underlying reality that belies quick fixes, and will test the Liberals’ commitment to their “hope and hard work” mantra to winning over voters.

Source: China trip may help Trudeau win Chinese-Canadian votes – The Globe and Mail

Canadian woman’s case galvanizes Chinese moms in custody battles – The Globe and Mail

Another reminder of some of the risks related to international custody battles. Global Affairs Canada is working on over 300 known cases worldwide (the actual number is likely higher):

Ms. Dai is now midway through an appeal, her final avenue for securing access to her son.

She has borne the costs alone. Like Alison Azer, the Courtenay, B.C. woman whose children were allegedly abducted to Iran, Ms. Dai has struggled to get help from home. She has written Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and multiple people at the Canadian embassy in Beijing. One told her to call local police if her child was in danger and declined her request for a letter of support she could use in court: “this would involve the Government of Canada in a private legal matter, which is not part of our mandate as consular officials.”

Ms. Dai said she sees that as “a message to other Canadian mothers” in China that “if they get in any sort of trouble, be aware that no one can help.”

In an e-mail, Foreign Affairs spokesman François Lasalle said officials are providing Ms. Dai “consular assistance,” and “work hard” to support more than 300 Canadian families worldwide in similar circumstances. A new Chinese domestic violence law, enacted this year, “is a significant improvement” but “still has important shortcomings,” he said.

“We are committed to ensuring the promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ human rights,” he said.

Ms. Dai, however, has found greater support from others in China after she took her fight public, galvanizing other mothers to confront weaknesses in their legal system and advocate for change in a country where fast-rising divorce rates are approaching U.S. levels. Ms. Dai has made advocacy a full-time job, securing a small office in Beijing and hiring three assistants.

Her story has been published by more than 200 media outlets and she has been interviewed on national television shows. She has hired the lawyer who represented Kim Lee, an American woman beaten by her famous Chinese husband, a hotly discussed case that drew national attention to domestic abuse problems in China.

The pain Ms. Dai suffered “is more severe” than what Ms. Lee endured, her lawyer, Qi Lianfeng, said in an interview.

Ms. Dai says her former husband, movie stuntman Liu Jie, slapped her, pushed her to the ground, stomped on her face and once wrenched her leg so badly she had trouble walking.

In a trial last year, however, Mr. Liu argued that Tristan should stay with him because Ms. Dai “is irresponsible, doesn’t care about the son or want to raise him” and was too busy working, according to a summary contained in the verdict released this spring. The judge found that Mr. Liu had hit Ms. Dai, but gave him custody nonetheless, citing “the principle of benefiting his healthy physical and mental growth.”

Reached for comment, Mr. Liu said “it’s a family matter,” and asked for privacy.

The stakes in China are high for fathers and their families. The long-standing one-child policy means a child, especially a son, is expected to “carry on the family blood,” said Li Ying, a lawyer and director of a Beijing legal assistance agency.

When those families seize their children, they also gain an advantage in court, where judges tend to view leaving the child in place as less disruptive, heavily emphasizing possession.

Courts also have little power to enforce custody rulings. And authorities try to keep problems quiet. Ms. Dai was visited by police before holding a recent conference on custody issues, and subsequently asked a Globe and Mail reporter not to attend to avoid further problems.

Still, custody problems are not unique to China, which is moving to ensure a new domestic violence law, enacted this year, creates real change. Officials are currently drafting detailed guidelines for its enforcement.

“In the future, things will be better, particularly in custody matters,” said Yang Xiaolin, a lawyer who was part of a special team at Nanjing Normal University examining problems with child custody.

But, he said, attitudes must first change.

“The Chinese legal system has yet to treat juveniles seriously,” he said. To decide custody, “a child’s needs must be taken into account. Not only their material needs, but also emotional ones.”

Source: Canadian woman’s case galvanizes Chinese moms in custody battles – The Globe and Mail