Senator [Woo] warns China might not free Spavor and Kovrig in Meng deal if Canada not part of effort

Sigh… Not wise or helpful:

An expert in Canada-Asian relations is warning a future U.S. deal to set free Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou may not lead to the immediate release of two Canadians locked up in China – particularly if Ottawa is not seen as having played a significant role in her release.

Senator Yuen Pau Woo, as facilitator of the Independent Senators Group in the Red Chamber, is the leader of the largest bloc in the Senate. Prior to his appointment to the Senate, he served as president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada in Vancouver.

Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were seized and locked up by Beijing in 2018 shortly after Ms. Meng was arrested at Vancouver airport on a U.S. extradition request – apparently in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei Technologies executive.

Ms. Meng is fighting extradition to the United States in court and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rejected calls from Beijing to intervene and send her home, saying there will be no political interference in Canada’s independent judicial system. In late 2020, however, the U.S. Justice Department was reportedly in discussions on a plea agreement that would allow Ms Meng to return to China.

Mr. Woo has previously played a role in back-channel diplomacy between Canada and China and says he wants to do what he can do help bring about the release of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor. “I am plugged into the discussions around these issues.”

He said there is a risk a future U.S. deal to free Ms. Meng could be “misinterpreted on the Chinese side as a problem that was resolved purely by D.C. and Beijing” without Canada.

“The resolution of the Meng Wanzhou issue may not, I am really sad to say, may not facilitate a resolution of the Spavor-Kovrig issue,” Mr. Woo told a Carleton University webinar last week.

“For the simple reason that if the political resolution is a bilateral one between the U.S. and China, that will effectively take Canada out of the equation and reduce our degrees of freedom to encourage the release of our two compatriots.”

Elaborating on this in a later interview, Mr. Woo said it’s very important that Canada be seen by Beijing as actively trying to bring about a resolution that would free Ms. Meng and if a U.S.-brokered deal is ever reached, that “Canada’s fingerprints will be all over” that arrangement.

“Right now the Canadian position for Meng Wanzhou is there is legal process and she has to go through it …. Give it your best shot – in terms of Madam Meng’s lawyers – and whatever happens, happens,” he said.

But, he noted, the United States has reportedly been trying to broker a solution.

“If we say that we are relying on the normal process of legal discussion to solve the Meng issue, why would the Chinese then subvert their legal process … to free the Michaels?”

Mr. Woo also said Canada, which has criticized the arrest of the two Michaels as “arbitrary detention,” must also recognize the Chinese justice system as legitimate.

“I don’t see that there can be any resolution of the dual problem of Meng Wanzhou and the two Michaels without some recognition and acknowledgment, on the part of the two governments, of the legitimacy of the justice systems of the other side,” he told the Carleton webinar.

“I am not saying we have to agree with the Chinese justice system but it would be extremely difficult for the Chinese to suddenly spring free Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig if we essentially say that … your system is totally illegitimate.”

Added Mr. Woo: That’s “going to be very difficult for the Chinese to spring them free because it would be basically recognizing that the Canadian side was right.”

Conservative Senator Leo Housakos said he was appalled by the suggestion that Canada should recognize China’s judicial system as legitimate.

He said it’s impossible to consider China’s justice system legitimate “when it can imprison you without charges, [when it’s] a system that doesn’t disclose what the charges are to you or to your attorney and is a judicial system that is done in closed-door privacy.”

Added Mr. Housakos: “It’s laughable.”

The Conservative senator said it’s important to remember that Ms. Meng is being accused of serious charges of bank fraud and the Canadian courts must deal impartially with the extradition proceedings, regardless of whether the U.S. grants a deferred prosecution agreement.

The American charge for which she was arrested in Canada is fraud – lying to a bank – which is a crime in both this country and the United States.

The U.S. alleges that Ms. Meng deceived banks including HSBC about the true nature of the relationship between Huawei and a subsidiary based in Iran, called Skycom, and that this fraud led bankers to clear hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions in violation of U.S. sanctions.

The Conservative senator noted that Mr. Woo recently refused to grant leave for his motion that would have imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Chinese officials over its brutal treatment of China’s Muslim Uyghur minority.

He noted that Mr. Woo advocated a prisoner exchange with Ms. Meng and the two Michaels as did prominent Liberals from the Jean Chrétien era, such as former justice minister Allan Rock, former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy and Eddie Goldenberg, a senior Chrétien adviser.


China Poised to Top US Economy Without More Immigration, Says

Similar to Canadian calls by the Century Initiative, Business Council of Canada and others, highlighting that if most immigration destination countries pursue the same policies, the net relative effect among countries will likely be minimal. The Canadian dependency ratio of seniors is expected to increase to 42.7 per 100 in 2065 compared to 27.4 currently:

The U.S. risks losing its status as the world’s largest economy to China by the end of the decade if it doesn’t increase legal immigration, according to a study released Wednesday by a tech group [] that favors admitting more foreign workers.

The report projects that the American economy will be three-quarters the size of China’s by 2050 under current U.S. population trends and immigration levels., an immigration advocacy group founded by tech industry leaders, conducted the study in conjunction with George Mason University.

The situation at the border has also emboldened those who support cutting immigration levels. They argue that allowing more migrants could displace American-born workers as the U.S. economy recovers from the pandemic.

“Immigration has basically become the fulcrum of nativist and nationalist politics, which is really about a concern for putting America first,” said Justin Gest, the study’s co-author and associate professor at George Mason University. “If you look at the numbers here, the best way that we can put America first is by welcoming newcomers.”

The report argues that without more immigrants, the U.S. population will become older in the coming years as the number of elderly rises at a faster rate than working-age adults. The expense of entitlements for those older Americans, such as Social Security and Medicare, risks outpacing taxes paid by younger workers, the report argues.

The report says that while higher levels of immigration alone would not ensure solvency for the Social Security trust fund, it would help delay its depletion, now anticipated in 2034, by a year or more depending on how many more visas are issued annually.

If legal immigration levels were doubled, an estimated 31 seniors would live in the U.S. in 2050 for every 100 working-age people compared to 37 under current immigration levels, the study shows. Under that scenario, U.S. gross domestic product is projected to rise to $46.8 trillion in 2050 compared to $49.9 trillion for China. China’s economy wouldn’t overtake the U.S. until closer to 2035.

Biden’s plan isn’t that expansive. It would raise the annual number of green cards the U.S. issues by about 35%.

The report says that increasing immigration while keeping the current mix of visas, which are mostly family-based, would result in a larger GDP increase than if the U.S. allowed in most immigrants through work visas. That’s because immigrants who come to reunite with spouses or relatives are more likely to put down roots in the U.S. than those who come for work.

Groups that favor lower levels of immigration argue that granting a pathway to citizenship to immigrants already here illegally, as Biden’s plan does, would strain programs like Social Security and Medicare by making those immigrants eligible for benefits.

President Joe Biden is pushing to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws to make them more “humane.” A proposal he sent to Congress would increase the number of people allowed to gain legal permanent residence each year by almost 375,000, according to a separate study by the immigration services group Boundless Immigration Inc.

Republicans have rejected Biden’s approach and have blamed a recent spike in irregular migration at the U.S. southwest border on the president’s rhetoric and policies.

Source: China Poised to Top US Economy Without More Immigration, Says

Claims of Uyghur genocide in China are ‘lies,’ adviser to B.C. premier says

Sigh. Needs to go:

A member of a committee that advises B.C. Premier John Horgan is under fire for referring to accusations of Uyghur genocide in China as “lies.”

Bill Yee, a retired provincial court judge and a member of B.C.’s Chinese-Canadian Advisory Committee, made the comments during an interview on the Toronto-based Chinese-language radio station A-1.

Those statements have a Canadian organization that advocates for democracy in Hong Kong calling on Horgan to dismiss Yee from his advisory role.

During the March 31 interview, Yee dismissed allegations that a genocide is being conducted against Uyghurs by the Chinese government.

“They use these lies, and those politicians, but what kind of legal basis do they have to prove China has committed genocide?” he said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

In the past year, the Chinese government has faced accusations of genocide from think tanks, non-governmental organizations and journalists who have documented human rights abuses in the country’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Those stories include allegations of systematic rape, forced birth control, forced labour and internment camps targeting Muslim Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.

On Feb. 22 Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion to formally recognize that a genocide is taking place in the region. The motion passed by a vote of 266-0, with most members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet abstaining.

Last summer, witnesses who included victims of human rights abuses in the region testified before the House foreign affairs subcommittee on international human rights. The subcommittee subsequently declared that a genocide is happening in the region, and was recently sanctioned by the Chinese government, along with MP Michael Chong.

Pressed during the radio interview by host Andrea Chun, Yee said the allegations about events in Xinjiang are “made up” and “lies.”

Yee, who is a past president of the Chinese Benevolent Association in Vancouver, accused Canadian politicians of having “ulterior motives,” according to a translation of the interview done by the Star.

“The so-called evidence from some people, does that mean they’re fact? It needs to be objective,” Yee said. “Many people have ulterior motives, so have you thought about that?”

The Star requested an interview with Yee through Horgan’s director of communications, as well as through the Chinese Canadian Museum, which lists him as a member of its board of directors, and was told the messages would be passed on to him.

He did not reply to the requests.

The radio interview did not mark the first time Yee has made controversial comments about China’s human rights record.

In 1993, the Vancouver Sun reported that Yee had said there may be another “perspective” to the Tiananmen Square massacre, and that Vancouver’s pro-democracy activists may have a “hidden agenda” regarding the 1989 event.

“It’s very clear that this man is repeating the same talking points that the Chinese Communist Party has been broadcasting,” said Cherie Wong, executive director of the pro-democracy group Alliance Canada Hong Kong. “What’s worrisome is this is happening on a provincial level of politics.”

She said Yee should be dismissed from the committee, calling it a “choice John Horgan must make.”

The Star reached out to Horgan’s office about Yee’s comments last week and received a response back from Minister of State for Trade George Chow’s office that said Yee had been expressing “personal opinions” during the radio interview.

“The mandate of the advisory committee was set up to provide inputs to the government on domestic community issues and does not include foreign affairs,” the statement from Chow’s office said. “Therefore, Mr. Bill Yee has been asked to not identify himself as a member of the advisory committee when expressing personal opinions.”

The statement also said the B.C. government supports Ottawa’s stance on the issue.

But Wong said the response isn’t good enough.

“Why is it that the B.C. NDP party has an adviser who is blatantly not only echoing propaganda but also actively dismissing the lived experience of Uyghur Canadians?” Wong said. “He is not representative of what Chinese Canadians in Canada are asking for.”

She said it’s “ridiculous” to even discuss whether Yee still has a place on the committee.

Douglas Chiang, a past president of the Canadian Taiwanese Association, said he’s concerned Yee serves Horgan in an advisory role, given his comments on Xinjiang.

“It is not good news for Taiwanese people, not good news for Canadian people” he said. “I don’t know why he is an adviser for the premier.”

Chiang said all Canadian leaders should be concerned about human rights and freedoms.

Source: Claims of Uyghur genocide in China are ‘lies,’ adviser to B.C. premier says

US weighs joint approach to Beijing Olympics with allies

Of note and needed. Hopefully, enough countries will have the sense to boycott and not provide a propaganda triumph for the Chinese regime:

The State Department said Tuesday the Biden administration is consulting with allies about a joint approach to China and its human rights record, including how to handle the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

The department initially suggested that an Olympic boycott to protest China’s rights abuses was among the possibilities but a senior official said later that a boycott has not yet been discussed.

The official said the U.S. position on the 2022 Games had not changed but that the administration is in frequent contact with allies and partners about their common concerns about China. Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier the consultations were being held in order to present a united front.

“Part of our review of those Olympics and our thinking will involve close consultations with partners and allies around the world,” Price told reporters.

Human rights groups are protesting China’s hosting of the Games, which are set to start in February 2022. They have urged a diplomatic or straight-up boycott of the event to call attention to alleged Chinese abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, and residents of Hong Kong.

Price declined to say when a decision pm the Olympics might be made, but noted there is still almost a year until the Games are set to begin.

“These Games remain some time away. I wouldn’t want to put a timeframe on it, but these discussions are underway,” he said. “It is something that we certainly wish to discuss and it is certainly something that we understand that a approach will be not only in our interest, but also in the interest of our allies and partners. So this is one of the issues that is on the agenda, both now and going forward.”

The Beijing Winter Olympics open on Feb. 4, 2022 and China has denied all charges of human rights abuses. It says “political motives” underlie the boycott effort.

Rights groups have met with the International Olympic Committee and have been told the Olympic body must stay politically “neutral.” They have been told by the IOC that China has given “assurances” about human rights conditions.

Both the IOC and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee have said in the past they oppose boycotts.

In March, IOC president Thomas Bach said history shows that boycotts never achieve anything. “It also has no logic,” he said. “Why would you punish the athletes from your own country if you have a dispute with a government from another country? This just makes no real sense.”

The USOPC has questioned the effectiveness of boycotts. “We oppose Games boycotts because they have been shown to negatively impact athletes while not effectively addressing global issues,” it said. “We believe the more effective course of action is for the governments of the world and China to engage directly on human rights and geopolitical issues.”

Source: US weighs joint approach to Beijing Olympics with allies

China fights back with sanctions on academics, institute

No surprise. Pleased that we were able to pressure steering committee members of International Metropolis to abandon holding their 2020 conference in Beijing:

The imposition of tit-for-tat sanctions on researchers by China after the European Union imposed bans on Chinese officials, has ratcheted up pressure on academics, particularly those whose research involves topics deemed sensitive to China.

Experts said the sanctions further narrow the space for China research and increase fears in the academic community that China could target more overseas academics in future because of their China-linked work. 

On Friday China announced sanctions against four organisations and nine individuals in the UK, mainly parliamentarians but also including Joanne Smith Finley, a reader in Chinese studies at Newcastle University, for what the Chinese foreign ministry called “maliciously spreading lies and information” about Xinjiang.

Smith Finley said on Friday: “It seems I am to be sanctioned by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] government for speaking the truth about the Uyghur tragedy in Xinjiang, and for having a conscience. Well so be it. I have no regrets for speaking out and I will not be silenced.”

Newcastle University said in a statement: “Academic freedom underpins every area of research at Newcastle University and is essential to the principles of UK higher education. Dr Jo Smith Finley has been a leading voice in this important area of research on the Uyghurs and we fully support her in this work.”

Andreas Fulda, associate professor at the University of Nottingham in the UK and an expert in Europe-China relations, said via Twitter that “this uncalled-for escalation by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] means that there cannot be ‘business as usual’ for British academia. We need to start a vigorous debate about how to deal with the CCP’s political censorship. Self-censorship is not an option.”

This latest announcement came three days after China named two researchers – Adrian Zenz, a German expert on Xinjiang who is currently senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in the United States, who has been targeted by China recently; and Björn Jerdén, director of the Swedish National China Centre at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm – as well as an entire institution, the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), as being barred, along with their families, from visiting China, Hong Kong and Macao, it was announced on Tuesday.

MERICS is one of Europe’s biggest China research institutions with over 30 scholars and specialists on China affairs turning out major reports.  

“They and companies and institutions associated with them are also restricted from doing business with China,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. 

The ban comes as the EU on 21 March imposed its first sanctions on China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, imposing travel bans and asset freezes against four Chinese officials and one organisation over the mass persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. In coordinated action, the United Kingdom and Canada this week also announced sanctions on Xinjiang officials.

China’s official Global Times newspaper claimed Jerdén “fabricated rumours about Confucius Institutes describing them as China’s ‘brainwashing’ tools and ‘espionage’ institutions”. 

Jerdén has firmly rejected “the sweeping and groundless charges” that he had been spreading ‘lies and disinformation’.

“China’s sanctions against scholars and thinktanks are unprecedented but not surprising,” Jerdén said via Twitter. The Chinese Communist Party “has made clear that it doesn’t tolerate independent research on China”.

Jerdén also alluded to the tightening space for China research, saying: “It has become difficult to do research about China without interference from the Chinese government. As China becomes more important around the world, this highlights the need for a strong and independent China research community in Europe.”

“It is completely unacceptable that China imposes sanctions on academics who conduct free and open research,” said Marie Söderberg, chairperson of the board of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, where Jerdén works, in a statement issued on Tuesday. Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde also denounced the ban on researchers. 

Targeting of a research institute

Global Times claimed MERICS “has actually been colluding with anti-China forces over the years since it was established in 2013”. 

MERICS said in a statement on Monday that “MERICS very much regrets this decision and rejects the allegations”. 

“As an independent research institute, we are dedicated to fostering a better and more differentiated understanding of China. We will continue to pursue this mission by presenting fact-based analysis, also with the aim of creating opportunities for exchanges and dialogue – even in difficult times,” it said.

But academics note that the sanctions went beyond tit-for-tat action. In a separate editorial on 23 March, Global Times said MERICS was sanctioned not simply because of its research but because “it is the largest Chinese research centre in entire Europe. Cutting off ties with China means its research channel will hardly be sustainable and its influence will be critically hit.”

Sheena Greitens, associate professor and expert on East Asia at the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States, said that in the past the party state used “uncertainty” to get people to self-police. Beijing “is now making parameters much more clear” with its statement that it wants to cut off MERIC’s research pipeline, she said. 

“Repression tactics against China scholars used to be ‘rare but real’. They are increasingly not rare,” said Greitens. 

The blanket targeting of an entire research institute is “something entirely new”, said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute, a think tank in Berlin, Germany. He said the move was designed to intimidate other China scholars in the West into reining in criticism of the Communist Party.

Rory Truex, assistant professor at Princeton University in the US and an expert on authoritarianism and repression in China, said: “This does constitute a real shift in rhetoric and has implications for China studies. The [Communist] Party is now making it explicit that if you study the wrong thing, you will face consequences.”

Directors of a range of major European research institutes and China studies centres at universities said in a statement this week: “We are deeply concerned that targeting independent researchers and civil society institutions undermines practical and constructive engagement by people who are striving to contribute positively to policy debates. This will be damaging not only for our ability to provide well-informed analysis but also for relations more broadly between China and Europe in the future.

“We believe that mutual dialogue is crucial, especially at difficult times, and deeply regret the inclusion of academic researchers and civil society institutions in the current tensions. We will stand by our colleagues who have been targeted this way.”

China’s sanctions, announced on 22 March, also included European parliamentarians pushing for action on the rights of the Uyghur Turkic minority in Xinjiang, as well as those pushing for changes in China’s policy on Taiwan which it claims as a Chinese province, and rights agencies and organisations which the Chinese government considers to have been “interfering in China’s internal affairs for a long time.”

China also sanctioned the Political and Security Committee of the European Council, the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation in Denmark.


Neve: We need a human rights game plan for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Good suggestions. Latest Angus-Reid poll shows 55 percent support boycott compares to 27 percent opposed:
As the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing draw nearer – less than eleven months to go – calls for a boycott grow.

Every day, grave human rights violations suffocate freedom in Hong Kong; brutalize Tibetan, Falun Gong, pro-democracy and other prisoners because of who they are or what they believe; and jeopardize the survival of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Worry for unjustly imprisoned Canadians, including Huseyin Celil, Sun Qian, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – and four Canadians currently sentenced to death in China – is top of mind. Understandably, there is much debate about holding the Olympics in a country responsible for a human rights crisis of this magnitude.

Immediately there is pushback. We hear indignation that a boycott politicizes the Olympics. But concern for universal human rights is anything but political. These are international obligations binding on all nations, including China.

The Olympic Charter itself affirms that: “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Surely championing universal human rights is true to the essence of that vision.

What is particularly galling is for governments and the Olympic movement to dismiss boycott calls as inappropriate, then go no further. That is an utter abdication of responsibility. Boycott or not, there must be a forceful human-rights game plan for these Olympics.

With the House of Common’s recognition of China’s genocide against the Uyghurs; with an iron grip of repression closing around Hong Kong; with Canadians unjustly locked up in Chinese prisons; and with the Chinese government determined to bask in a favourable international spotlight – if this is not the time to sharpen the world’s focus, build pressure, and set out clear expectations for human rights change in China, when will that time be?

Here is the beginning of a three-part game plan for Canada.

First, work with other governments to hold China accountable within the United Nations human rights system. The UN Human Rights Council is in session and will meet two more times before the flame is lit in Beijing. Governments need to find their resolve and use the world’s premier human rights body to call out one of the world’s most egregious human rights violators.

Second, take steps that are readily available. Canadian law and policy already provide for a range of meaningful measures such as more robust bans on products made through forced labour; targeted sanctions on Chinese government officials; concrete initiatives to protect activists in Canada facing threats for their Chinese human rights advocacy; and dedicated programs for refugees fleeing this repression. House of Commons committees on the Canada-China relationship, international human rights and immigration have explored and proposed those and other recommendations in recent months. It is time for action.

And third, all stakeholders need human rights-focused Olympics strategies. That includes the government, the Canadian Olympic Committee, media, corporate sponsors and individual athletes.

There needs to be a coherent response with other governments, including maintaining pressure with respect to key human rights concerns throughout the lead-up to and during the Olympics. Coordinated decisions as to which officials will attend and who will pointedly stay away from the lavish opening ceremony should be publicized.

Attention will be needed to ensure that journalists have freedom and are encouraged to report about China’s human rights reality. Similarly, marketing campaigns cannot gloss over China’s grim human rights record. Television networks with Olympic broadcast rights, and companies paying big bucks to use the logo, need to figure out how they will lift up human rights.

And there must be assurances of safety and support for individual athletes who will feel compelled by conscience to show solidarity.

If governments and the Olympic movement are going to rebuff boycott suggestions, it is incumbent upon them to demonstrate they are nonetheless committed to addressing the harrowing human rights backdrop behind the Beijing Games’ fanfare.

This is not playing politics. It is about respecting what the Olympics aspire to be.

Above all, it is about honouring the Uyghur people, the people of Hong Kong, Tibetans, Mongolians, Falun Gong practitioners, democracy campaigners, human rights defenders, journalists, labour activists, imprisoned Canadians, and countless others.

For them, the Olympic flame offers no inspiration or comfort.  For them, we must set the flame ablaze with concern, solidarity and action for human rights.

Alex Neve is a Senior Fellow with the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Source: Neve: We need a human rights game plan for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Latest Angus-Reid poll showing 55 percent favouring a boycott, 27 percent opposed.


Mendes: We say ‘never again,’ then it happens again in China and we do almost nothing

Good op-ed by Errol Mendes:

We are witnessing what we’d hoped would “never again” happen after the Second World War: There is compelling evidence that over a million Uyghurs are being detained in Xinjiang, China.

While the Chinese government claims the detention camps are in fact vocational or training camps, the detainees are subjected to propaganda sessions, forced labour, and physical abuse, including gang rapes, according to credible news reports.

There’s also evidence that the Chinese government is trying to reduce the numbers of this ethnic and religious group through enforced birth control.

I agree with former Justice minister Irwin Cotler that we should join the U.S. and other countries in imposing targeted sanctions against key planners of the mass detention of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

I have suggested in Canadian Parliament that sanctions should target the architects of the suppression and detention of the Uyghurs. Such sanctions could target governor Shohrat Zakir of Xinjiang, and the region’s party chief, Chen Quanguo, who’s a member of the politburo of the party in the highest ranks of the Chinese government. Both have asserted that these allegations, of what amount to serious international crimes against the Uyghurs, are fabricated lies and absurd. Zakir goes further by describing the camps as boarding schools where the rights of the “students” are protected.

In 2017, Parliament passed the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, which implements the Magnitsky targeted sanctions that allow Canada to freeze the assets and ban the travel of human-rights abusers and corrupt officials around the world. Similar laws have been adopted by the U.S., the U.K., and many European countries, and the European Union is considering adopting a law for the whole region. The law was championed by Bill Browder, the global human-rights and anti-corruption campaigner whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered by Russian officials.

In an interview in the Globe and Mail, Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, said the federal government must consider the consequences, including possible retaliation, before imposing sanctions on senior Chinese officials for violating the human rights of minority groups. I agree with him that a government can never afford to engage in non-consequential thinking or actions that could threaten our two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, or engage in further trade actions that could threaten our agricultural and lumber exports.

However, Canadian society can’t bend its foundational commitments to the rule of law to the laws practised by China and other dictatorships. We can’t ignore our oft-stated commitments to the promotion and protection of universal human rights embodied in the promise of “never again.” We can’t just stand by while, yet again, crimes against humanity are committed, including genocide, torture, and brutal violence and rape against women detainees.

When we stay silent or don’t act in the face of these atrocities, we forfeit our right to be regarded as champions of the equal dignity and rights of all peoples on the world stage. History has shown that silence is the complicit partner to genocide. Canada can’t stand by while genocidal acts and crimes against humanity take place in Myanmar, China, or elsewhere. By forcing birth control on the Uyghurs, the Chinese government is committing both crimes against humanity and genocide.

The officials who I suggest we target for their involvement in the detention, subjugation, and forced birth control in Xinjiang may not want to travel to Canada or have any assets here to be frozen, but the signal we send with the targeted sanctions to, not just China, but the entire world, is that we’re acting on behalf of humanity. They’re meant to bestow pariah status on those at the highest levels of the Chinese government.

Our traditional allies should be urged to follow suit, and even consider doing it jointly with us. As for China’s possible retaliation, “the two Michaels” are already paying the price with their detention and imminent trial. Their fate is sealed as long as Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou isn’t freed.

Canada must develop a longer-term strategy and policy for China that addresses both the country’s “hostage diplomacy” and the use of trade punishments that are substantially in violation of global trade rules under the World Trade Organization.

As China breaches international norms and laws, Canada and its government must develop a long-term strategy with our traditional democratic allies, especially the European Union and the new Biden administration in the U.S. The goal of such a coalition would be the economic, social, and multilateral deterrence of, not only the use of hostage diplomacy by China and other countries, but also China’s ability to target democratic countries that are bound by their values, principles, and constitutions to adhere to the rule of law and the promotion and protection of universal human rights.

U.S. President Joe Biden has already promised to hold a global democracy summit to renew the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the free world. Yet again, the risk is high that authoritarian China will collude with similar powers to make the entire democratic world cower in fear of them.

Canada could urge such a summit, where measures can be agreed on to subject Chinese global companies to national-security, human-rights, and anti-corruption scrutiny, and to penalize them for complicity in their state’s serious international crimes.

We need government, private-sector, and civil-society partnerships to oppose hostage diplomacy and impunity for the most serious international crimes. Such coalitions could build on the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, comprised of Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, which functions well already. The commitment to the rule of law — and respect for the equal dignity and rights of all peoples, which underlies the alliance of truly democratic nations — is under attack from authoritarian leaders around the world. Canada can’t acquiesce or stand by in this assault on democracy around the world.

Source: We say ‘never again,’ then it happens again in China and we do almost nothing

Romney: The Right Way to Boycott the Beijing Olympics

Useful suggestion regarding alternative to athlete boycott by Senator Romney but one that requires buy-in by governments and corporate sponsors to have impact. Whether governments and corporate sponsors will have the courage and ethics to do so remains in question, including the Canadian government and sponsors:

As the Beijing Olympic Games approach, it is increasingly clear that China, under the control of the Chinese Communist Party does not deserve an Olympic showcase. Because it is too late to move the Winter Games scheduled for Beijing next February, some have proposed, understandably, that the United States boycott the Games.

China deserves our condemnation. The Chinese Communist Party has reneged on its agreement to allow Hong Kong self rule; it has brutally suppressed peaceful demonstrators and incarcerated respected journalists. It is exacting genocide against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities; Uighur women are forcefully sterilized or impregnated by Han Chinese men. Adults, ripped from their families, are sentenced into forced labor and concentration camps. Among ethnic Chinese, access to uncensored broadcast news and social media is prohibited. Citizens are surveyed, spied upon and penalized for attending religious services or expressing dissent.

Prohibiting our athletes from competing in China is the easy, but wrong, answer. Our athletes have trained their entire lives for this competition and have primed their abilities to peak in 2022. When I helped organize the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, I gained an understanding of the enormous sacrifice made by our Olympic hopefuls and their families. It would be unfair to ask a few hundred young American athletes to shoulder the burden of our disapproval.

It could also be counterproductive. The Olympic Games aren’t just a showcase for the host nation, but a platform for values both American and universal. If our athletes skip the Games, millions of young Americans at home might skip watching it. And the Olympic Games are one of the most enduring demonstrations of the great qualities of the human spirit on the world stage: We witness determination, sacrifice, patriotism, endurance, sportsmanship. We would also lose the global symbolism of our young American heroes standing atop the medals podium, hand to their hearts, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays on Chinese soil.

Moreover, if an athlete boycott is meant to influence the behavior of the home country or delegitimize its government, it probably won’t work. When President Jimmy Carter applied an athlete boycott to the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the result was more medals for Russians and dashed dreams for American athletes. No one seriously believes it improved Soviet behavior.

So if we shouldn’t forbid American athletes from competing, then how should we meaningfully repudiate China’s atrocities? The right answer is an economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. American spectators — other than families of our athletes and coaches — should stay at home, preventing us from contributing to the enormous revenues the Chinese Communist Party will raise from hotels, meals and tickets. American corporations that routinely send large groups of their customers and associates to the Games should send them to U.S. venues instead.

Rather than send the traditional delegation of diplomats and White House officials to Beijing, the president should invite Chinese dissidents, religious leaders and ethnic minorities to represent us.

An economic and diplomatic boycott should include collaboration with NBC, which has already done important work to reveal the reality of the Chinese Communist Party’s repression and brutality. NBC can refrain from showing any jingoistic elements of the opening and closing ceremonies and instead broadcast documented reports of China’s abuses.

We should enlist our friends around the world to join our economic boycott. Limiting spectators, selectively shaping our respective delegations and refraining from broadcasting Chinese propaganda would prevent China from reaping many of the rewards it expects from the Olympics.

Finally, America and the nations of the free world need to have a heart-to-heart with the International Olympic Committee. The I.O.C. has hoped that awarding Games to repressive regimes would tend to lessen their abuses. But hope has too often met a different reality — in Hitler’s Germany, Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China. In authoritarian states, the Olympics has more often been a tool of propaganda than a lever of reform.

Let us demonstrate our repudiation of China’s abuses in a way that will hurt the Chinese Communist Party rather than our American athletes: reduce China’s revenues, shut down their propaganda, and expose their abuses. An economic and diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics — while proceeding with the Games — is the right answer.


US-based academic faces lawsuit for research into Uighurs

Of note:

Companies in China’s Xinjiang province are said to have filed a domestic civil lawsuit against a high-profile United States-based academic whose research into the treatment of China’s Turkic minority Uighur population, including alleged forced labour, has angered the Chinese authorities. 

The reported lawsuit, which the Chinese government has said it supports, appears to be a new way to attempt to silence scholars and critics abroad, experts said.

Chinese official media said this week “a number of enterprises and individuals” in Xinjiang “have directed lawyers to sue German national Adrian Zenz”, the official Global Times newspaper and China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday without naming the companies or individuals. 

The companies and individuals are said to have filed a civil lawsuit with a local court in Xinjiang, demanding that Zenz apologise, restore their reputation and compensate them for their losses.

“Local people said that Zenz spread ‘forced labour’ and other rumours related to Xinjiang, which damaged their reputation and caused them to suffer economic losses,” official media said. 

Zenz, formerly from the European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal in Germany but now a senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in the US, and other academics and journalists have written several hard-hitting reports since 2018 based on satellite imagery and official Chinese documents on the treatment of Uighurs, including documenting rights violations and the detention of up to a million Uighurs in huge camps in Xinjiang.

Mass internments in Xinjiang are believed to have begun in 2017. The Chinese government has repeatedly denied such reports, referring to the camps as “re-education centres”.

Sheena Greitens, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who has researched censorship and self-censorship among China academics at overseas universities, said “a lawsuit vs a researcher in a Chinese court is a new tactic” in China’s policing of the boundaries of academic research. 

Greitens said via Twitter that she was interested in who claims damages and how, “but [the] bigger issue is a potential deterrent effect on academic research”.

Forced labour

More than 570,000 Uighurs have been pressed into forced labour in Chinese cotton fields, which are a major supplier to the Western textiles industry, according to a research by Zenz published in December by the Washington-based think tank, the Center for Global Policy. Zenz said his research was based on Chinese official documents available online.

“Anybody who cares or who claims to have anything ethical in their business and supply chains has to divest,” Zenz said in December, referring to the textile industry’s sourcing of Xinjiang cotton. Xinjiang produces a third of China’s cotton.  

Zenz also published a report last week based on previously untranslated documents in Chinese including the so-called Nankai Report, written in 2019 by three academics at Nankai University’s China Institute of Wealth and Economics, including the institute’s dean. 

The Nankai Report is unprecedented in its details, according to Zenz, and implicitly reveals the impact of state coercion from the Nankai researchers’ own field work and surveys. The report talks about security guards accompanying the Uighur labourers, the labour recruitment quota set by the government, and other details in one document.

“The authors’ access to government information and relevant sites was privileged, far exceeding that which could be expected by regular academics,” Zenz noted. Zenz said his assessment on forced labour was supplemented by other reports from Chinese academics and former senior government officials.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative on 1 March said US President Joe Biden’s administration had made it a top priority to address the abuses of China’s forced labour programme targeting Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. 

The previous US administration of former president Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Chinese companies acquiring US technology, saying they were complicit in human rights violations against Uighurs in Xinjiang. Other sanctions were imposed on Chinese government officials and a major government department in Xinjiang. 

Chinese government supports legal action

In a 9 March press conference, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, indicated that the government supported the private legal action against Zenz. 

“Many companies and residents in Xinjiang suffered heavy economic losses after Zenz’s rumour of ‘forced labour’ came out of nowhere,” Zhao said, describing Zenz’s reports as “malicious smearing tactics”. China’s official media have frequently sought to discredit Zenz as a Christian “religious extremist” and “pseudo-researcher”.

“Their decision to seek legal redress against Zenz reflects a stronger awareness among the Chinese citizens to safeguard their rights through the law. We support this,” Zhao added. 

Zenz has said it “seems that the lawsuit threat is part of a well-prepared propaganda offensive”. 

He told the Washington Post newspaper this week: “It is the first admission that they really are suffering major economic losses” in China, adding that the lawsuit against him in China shows that US sanctions are beginning to bite.

Jurisdiction and arbitrary detention

Donald Clarke, a law professor specialising in Chinese law at the George Washington University Law School in the US, said in a blog post that jurisdiction for the lawsuit would first have to be established for any case involving Zenz, a foreigner living outside China with no connection to China. 

Since the lawsuit reportedly seeks damages, arguably it could only apply to Zenz’s assets in China, and he has none. But Clarke also raised important issues of arbitrary detention which could affect other academics. 

“People with their assets in the US do not, I think, need to be seriously concerned about this kind of lawsuit. They do, of course, need to be concerned about going to China, because they can be prevented from leaving the country until they pay off the judgment. But if they have already drawn the attention of the Chinese authorities to this extent, they shouldn’t be going in the first place, regardless of whether someone has sued them.

“Moreover, at least in this kind of case they’ll know they’re a target. You can be kept from leaving the country even before a judgment issues against you, merely because you have been sued. You might not even have received notice; the first time you find out is when you show up at the airport and can’t get on your plane.”


Veteran Canadian Olympic officials dismiss ‘silly’ calls to move 2022 Games from China

Not a “silly” call but an unrealistic one, and thus more virtue signalling than effective. Only realistic option is a boycott with as many countries involved as possible:

A number of Canadian politicians have called for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China, to be relocated to another country, but Dick Pound, a Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee, says such a move is unfeasible at this late date.

“What the politicians are doing with this kind of a request of moving the Games with less than a year to go is silly,” said Pound, a former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “If they give this 30 seconds of thought, they know it’s not possible.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and other politicians, including Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have called for the relocation of the Games, pointing to the Chinese government’s treatment of its Muslim minority population.

Source: Veteran Canadian Olympic officials dismiss ‘silly’ calls to move 2022 Games from China