Mulroney: There is nothing racist about creating a foreign-agent registry in Canada

Of note, agree not racist as these actions pertain to the Chinese regime:

Amid reports of Chinese foreign interference in Canadian elections, federal ministers Marco Mendicino and Mary Ng have voiced concerns that setting up a registry of foreign agents could unfairly target Canadians of Chinese origin and even prove racist.

But this argument doesn’t just prejudice people before any consultations even begin – it is also based on false assumptions about foreign agents and their victims.

Far from being racist, requiring transparency of those who speak, lobby, or disburse money for China or any other foreign state protects vulnerable members of diaspora communities, who are often the first targets of foreign interference. Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party has long prioritized the infiltration, coercion and harassment of diaspora communities worldwide as a means of advancing its power and influence. This has accelerated under Xi Jinping, whose vision of “the Great Chinese nation” uses patriotism as a cover for the extension of China’s extraterritorial reach. The party and its proxies routinely infiltrate student groups, cultural and community associations and Chinese-language media in foreign countries. In Canada, this has been enabled by the shameful failure of our own officials to protect diaspora members from the long arm of the Chinese state.

The most odious example of Beijing’s extraterritorial reach is the establishment of what have been referred to as overseas “police stations.” Human rights groups have said that Chinese officials use these places to interrogate and intimidate people of Han Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur origin, hoping to compel their return to China to face prosecution. The RCMP is now reportedly investigating sites in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. As welcome as these efforts are, it’s hard to understand why it has taken so long. It is reasonable to worry that, until recently, at least some Canadian police may have simply assumed that whatever went on in Chinese diaspora communities was China’s business.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only indication that Canadian officials may be facilitating the steady accumulation of extraterritorial power by Chinese diplomats.

Show up at a Lunar New Year’s gala anywhere in the country and you’ll find Canadian politicians at all levels and from all parties falling over themselves to pay lavish tribute to China’s flag, anthem and diplomats. This joyous family celebration, which China’s communist rulers banned for many years, has been cynically co-opted by Beijing’s diplomats, who turn the event into a victory lap and a high-profile demonstration of their local authority. Instead of voicing a challenge at these events, Canadian politicians seem more intent on squeezing into the group photo with the presiding Chinese functionary.

Interference by the Chinese state is by no means limited to diaspora communities, something a registry of foreign agents would make clear. There is mounting evidence that China’s efforts are ambitious, sophisticated, and national in scope. Yet oddly enough, the fact that not all foreign agents are of Chinese ethnicity seems not to have occurred to Mr. Mendicino and Ms. Ng.

I have for some time advocated for an Australian-style foreign agent registry in Canada, one designed to include the names of everyone who is delivering Beijing’s talking points, disbursing its payoffs, and lobbying on its behalf. Such a list would almost certainly include more than a few residents of Canada’s capital, where many former ministers and mandarins remain after retirement to run associations, represent major firms, opine on nightly news panels, rub shoulders with serving officials and, in some cases, advance agendas on behalf of foreign paymasters. Canadians need greater transparency from this privileged and, it needs to be said, ethnically diverse community, which exercises considerable influence behind the scenes.

Former politicians and public servants should be required to report any arrangements in which they market to foreign states the knowledge, experience and contacts they gained while serving Canada, or that require them to perform any functions in Canada for such states. This would include disclosure of board memberships, consulting contracts, subsidized travel, appointments to political bodies, and other perks provided to themselves or family members, directly or indirectly by foreign states.

In addition, I’ve also recommended that work as a foreign agent render individuals ineligible for appointment to federal boards and agencies, and for membership in the Order of Canada or elevation to the Privy Council. How can we extend our continuing trust to individuals who have decided to serve a foreign state, especially one that is hostile to Canada? There is nothing “Honourable” or, indeed, “Right Honourable” about being on Beijing’s payroll.

Setting up a registry of foreign agents is in no way racist. But assuming it would contain only Chinese names is.

David Mulroney served as Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from 2009 to 2012.

Source: There is nothing racist about creating a foreign-agent registry in Canada

Stop poisonous prejudice against Canadians of Chinese descent

Sigh. The inability, deliberate or not, to recognize that legitimate criticism of Chinese regime policies and practices is not anti-Chinese Canadians, by people who should know better is disappointing. And rather striking that none of the authors have strongly condemned publicly Chinese government repression of Uighurs or Hong Kong (Google search):
The rising tide of hatred against Asians is a matter of urgent concern and deserves to be condemned by all Canadians. In this context, we are especially perturbed by blatant personal attacks against prominent Canadians of Chinese origin who have soberly expressed views on China and Canada-China relations, as with the case of Senator Yuen Pau Woo. As Canadian academics and China experts, we deeply value freedom of opinion. However some public commentators have gone well beyond debating the issues and descended to distorted and racially tainted xenophobic slurs that not only further poison the discourse on China and Canada-China relations, but give rise to unalloyed McCarthyism in a contemporary racialized form. News reports and commentary distorted what Senator Woo actually said. His Senate speech on the genocide resolution never whitewashed Beijing, nor did it draw equivalence between Canada’s current contrition over residential schools and the treatment of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Instead, Senator Woo rued the day when Chinese, like Canadians, may come to realize the damage caused by their own policies in Xinjiang. In his response to news reports and biased attacks, Senator Woo rightly pointed out how the public had been misled about his views. More egregiously, critics, in particular Derek Burney, Canada’s former ambassador to Washington, singled out Senator Woo’s immigrant background and lashed out at him for “living in the wrong country” simply because Senator Woo dared to express views on China different from his own. Other critics of China have darkly insinuated about ‘captured elites’ with respect to Canadians who express views on China different from their own. To these Sinophobic forces, denouncing China and its government is now a litmus test of loyalty for every bona fide Canadian. There are no second class Canadians, and those who would insinuate that have a whiff of the dark days of “Oriental Exclusion” and the Head Tax. Further, Senator Woo is an acknowledged China expert and former president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. His reasoned, balanced and moderate views on China, always with Canada’s best interests in sight, are well respected in the academic and policy community. During his many years of leadership, APF produced excellent analyses of China and the Asia Pacific region to assist decision-making by Canadian governments, corporations, and other institutions. But in those prejudiced mind, Senator Woo’s position is reduced to his Chinese ethnicity and none of these stellar professional qualifications therefore matter. The logic behind the vicious call for Senator Woo to resign from the Senate and register as a Chinese government lobbyist suggests that anyone having a different opinion on China than a particular group’s must not be allowed to hold a post in Canada, be it a Senator, or an academic, or whatever job they hold. This is more than dangerous. Our questions are: What is their agenda? What is the purpose of questioning the loyalty of Canadians? Is it to railroad Canadians of Chinese origin out of public life if they demur with the demonization of China? It is sad to see that our society is forging a toxic environment of discourse on China, with racist innuendo lurking just beneath the surface. This attack is part of a broader distortion effort. Thirty-three Senators voted against the Senate motion labelling current Chinese policy in Xinjiang as genocide. Most media reports used a particular phrase to report Senator Woo’s speech as “echoing the argument by Chinese officials,” which implies either Senator Woo was speaking for the Chinese government, or he is simply not able to form his own opinions. No such insinuation was made when Senator Peter Harder expressed similar views in his speech against the motion. No wonder anti-Asian hate crimes are rising in this country. When prominent Canadians express intolerant views, the result at the street level is to attack those who look Asian as communist China sympathizers or even agents. This is unworthy of our liberal and multicultural heritage and moreover is deeply misguided, as it both apes Stalinist tropes targeting dissent as disloyalty and seeks to discredit those who have expertise on China at a time when the challenges of dealing with a powerful China have made such expertise more important than ever. How to characterize the ongoing repressive policies in Xinjiang is beyond the point here. Senator Woo, and for that matter, any Canadian has the right to express their views about Xinjiang without being subjected to deliberate personal attack. We call on everyone, especially his Senate colleagues, who may or may not agree with his views, to support Senator Woo against such a character assassination. Jeremy Paltiel is professor of political science at Carleton University. Daniel A Bell is Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University in China. Xiaobei Chen is professor of sociology at Carleton University. Wenran Jiang is retired political science professor and founding director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta.
Source: Stop poisonous prejudice against Canadians of Chinese descent And in the China Daily:
A professor at one of Canada’s major universities has written a column for a state-run newspaper in China in which she defends Beijing’s record on ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs and argues Canadians are being thoughtless and self-righteous in accusing the Chinese government of genocide in Xinjiang. Yuezhi Zhao holds the Canada Research Chair in Political Economy of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her column, titled Canada Should Reflect On Its Struggle With Racism and dated July 29, ran in China Daily. The Beijing-based English-language media outlet describes itself as a government agency on LinkedIn, and it is a central fixture of the Chinese government’s efforts to disseminate its views abroad. The Chinese government has come under intense criticism for its repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. It has rejected calls for an independent investigation into documented reports of abuses, including torture, forced sterilization, forced abortions and involuntary separation of children from their parents. The Canadian, British, Dutch and Lithuanian parliaments, among others, have this year passed motions declaring China’s abuse of Muslim minorities to constitute genocide. Chinese officials have acknowledged that the birth rate across Xinjiang fell by nearly a third in 2018. Prof. Zhao says in her China Daily column that people should consider how the population of Uyghurs has flourished over the long term, particularly since the Chinese Communist Party took power more than 70 years ago. “Contrary to the genocidal decline of the aboriginal population in North America over the past 500 years, minority populations such as Tibetans and Uyghurs [in China] have grown significantly, and that has especially been the case since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949,” she writes. Prof. Zhao also takes aim at what she calls the “moral high ground that Canadian politicians have assumed in critiquing the Chinese state.” The Chinese government in June locked horns with the Canadian government after Canada led more than 40 countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council in expressing “grave concerns” over China’s conduct in Xinjiang. In response, Beijing confronted Canada about its own mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and the discovery of what appeared to be the remains of more than 200 children at a former residential school in Kamloops. China countered the Canadian criticism by calling for a “thorough and impartial investigation” into crimes against Indigenous peoples, which it said were instigated by racism and xenophobia in Canada. In a similar vein, Prof. Zhao accuses Canada of genocide, saying “the genocide of the aboriginal population has been at the very core of the founding of Canada.” She argues Canadians are mistakenly assuming that Beijing is trying to assimilate the Uyghurs. “When Canadian politicians, media outlets and scholars attack China for alleged human rights abuses, especially when they accuse China of genocidal treatment of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, we are witnessing the same unreflective application to China of a home-based paradigm based on the genocidal assimilation of aboriginal people,” she writes. She contrasts the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1 with “disbelief and shock” in Canada at historical mistreatment of Indigenous children at residential schools. The Communist Party, she writes, “despite all the trials and tribulations, even grave mistakes, is in a position to tell the proud history of national liberation, a history in which the Chinese nation overthrew the ‘three mountains’ of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism.” Prof. Zhao could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Simon Fraser University, Melissa Shaw, said “all faculty members have the right to academic freedom” when asked to comment on Prof. Zhao’s column. Mehmet Tohti, a Uyghur-Canadian and executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, said he’s shocked to hear the long-term increase in the Uyghur population since 1949 invoked as a counterargument to concern over Xinjiang. He said it’s rare to hear this kind of argument from Canada’s academic ranks, and that dismissing criticism of China’s record in Xinjiang ignores the “concentration camps and the massive internment of people and the forced labour” of recent years. Mr. Tohti said that, as a Uyghur-Canadian, he found it disappointing to hear “whataboutism” arguments that redirect debate over China’s current mistreatment of Uyghurs to past wrongs committed by Canada. He said it would make sense for China to establish an independent truth and reconciliation commission for Xinjiang. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran for more than six years until 2015, documented the history and effect of the residential school system on Indigenous students and their families. David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said while residential schools were part of a “cruel and deeply flawed policy,” any comparison with what China is doing in Xinjiang is “almost certainly designed to diminish awareness of Beijing’s vast, ambitious and technologically sophisticated destruction of a people and a culture.” Darren Byler, an assistant professor with the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser, and an expert in China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, said that for more than 70 years Beijing has sought to transform Xinjiang into an “internal settler colony” by transferring the Han Chinese ethnic majority into the region. “Over the past four years, this process has dramatically intensified with the implementation of a widespread residential boarding school system, where Uyghur and Kazakh children are instructed in Chinese and not permitted to practice their faith traditions,” he said. “A mass incarceration and internment system has resulted in 533,000 criminal prosecutions and the internment of hundreds of thousands more who have been deemed untrustworthy,” he added. “Because genocidal violence is just now emergent in China, it is particularly crucial that people of conscience demand that it be stopped.”

China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Harder should know better than to apply such relativism. Bob Rae provides the example: China ‘attempting to defend the indefensible’ in Xinjiang: Bob …YouTube · CBC NewsMar. 30, 2021:

The Trudeau government’s former representative in the Senate says a proposed motion in the Red Chamber to condemn China’s treatment of ethnic Muslim minorities as genocide smacks of “moral superiority and self-righteousness,” given Canada’s past conduct toward Indigenous people including in residential schools.

Senator Peter Harder, a former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs who later headed the Canada-China Business Council, recently spoke in the Senate to oppose a motion that would say the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims fits the United Nations’ definition of genocide. A similar motion has already passed the Commons, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from voting.

Activists and UN experts have said a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been subject to mass detention in Xinjiang. China denies abuses and says the centres provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism in the remote western region. Reports have emerged about Beijing’s success in slashing the birth rate of Uyghurs and other minorities through mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control.

Senate motion No. 79, which has not yet been put to a vote, notes that two successive U.S. administrations have labelled China’s behaviour as genocide. It also proposes calling upon the International Olympic Committee to deny Beijing the 2022 Winter Olympics by relocating the Games to another country “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”

The Dutch, British and Lithuanian parliaments have in recent months adopted similar motions recognizing the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide.

Mr. Harder, however, urged fellow senators to consider Canada’s conduct toward Indigenous people before they vote.

He noted that the debate is occurring after “the tragic discovery” of unmarked graves containing the remains of 215 children and “adds to the indictment of our centuries-long practice of residential schools, forced sterilization and what the former chief justice of Canada described as cultural genocide of our Indigenous peoples,” the senator said.

“This horrifying reality of our history stands in rather cynical contrast to the tone of moral superiority and self-righteousness contained in the motion before us tonight.”

The former Trump administration declared the repression of the Uyghurs to be genocide and U.S. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said he concurs with that assessment. In addition, a March, 2021 State Department report on human rights issued under the Biden administration declares that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during [2020] against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Mr. Harder, speaking to the Senate motion late last week, said this is not the way to engage with China.

“We should get off our high horse and seek to engage more appropriately, not bellicosely and belligerently, with countries – not just China, but countries that we need to engage.”

Ottawa has already joined with the U.S., Britain and the European Union in imposing sanctions on several Chinese government officials for “gross and systematic human-rights violations” against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other largely Muslims groups.

Senator Leo Housakos, the sponsor of motion No. 79, said that unlike China, Canada has acknowledged its atrocities. “China still doesn’t acknowledge what they are doing is ethnic cleansing.”

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Beijing’s use of technology to monitor, coerce and control a whole people is providing a how-to manual for other authoritarian powers to follow. “It’s writing the book on genocides of the future,” Mr. Mulroney said.

He said Canada’s shameful treatment of Indigenous people shouldn’t preclude Canadians from identifying and calling out misconduct elsewhere. “We call out the Uyghur genocide and question Beijing’s hosting of the Olympics not as a political statement but as a moral statement,” Mr. Mulroney said.

“Surely if we have learned anything as a country it is that you need to act swiftly against genocide anywhere.”

Mr. Harder also said he worried that the motion declaring China’s conduct to be genocide could jeopardize the treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians locked up by Beijing after Ottawa arrested a Huawei executive on a U.S. extradition request.

In addition, he cited concerns that it could also inflame anti-Asian violence in Canada and hurt Ottawa’s ability to find common cause with China in fighting climate change and building stronger global trading rules.

Asked for further comment, Mr. Harder said Monday that Canada should be humble. “It’s not that we lack moral authority as much as we should speak with humility and acknowledge our own historic (and recent) failings,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Regardless of the motivation of our governmental and church leaders at the time, history has shown that we were wrong.”

The Globe and Mail asked Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, for comment on whether he feels Canada’s conduct toward indigenous people – in particular, its record of residential schools – precludes Canadians from criticizing China. Chief Bellegarde’s office said that he was not able to respond Monday afternoon.

Source: China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Religion is under assault in China. But Canada may not have the moral high ground it needs to defend it

While I agree with David’s critique of Chinese government repression of religious (and other) minorities, I think he overstates the impact and influence of the Office of Religious Freedom canceled by the Liberal government and makes a false equivalence between Chinese government repression and the relatively minor but not unimportant measures of Liberal government he mentions:

When I arrived in China as ambassador in the late summer of 2009, I came armed with a personal belief that supporting religious freedom in the country would be a central objective of the human-rights program at the embassy. I was encouraged in this by the very welcome priority that the government of the day brought to the issue, which made it clear that religious freedom is a Canadian value and a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – one that belongs to everyone, everywhere.

This policy clarity upset some people in the department who were unhappy about the inclusion of religious belief among the human rights that they were being called to defend. They criticized support for religious freedom as an unfair and partisan intervention on behalf of one of two perspectives that deserved equal respect from an impartial Canada. The other perspective was typically described as the “freedom not to believe.” It was as if we were trying to impose on countries like China a specific religious perspective, rather than simply trying to ensure that people in China weren’t tortured or imprisoned simply for having a religious perspective.

Having seen how ruthlessly China suppresses both faith and the faithful, I’ve never been particularly worried about whether the freedom not to believe is imperilled there.

My work supporting religious freedom in China exposed me to a form of Chinese diplomacy that was, at times, even more combative than it is now. I saw how tense and insecure officials in China were when it came to matters relating to faith, and how little understanding – much less sympathy – Communist bureaucrats have for matters of the spirit. This profound gulf in understanding and experience, widened by decades of anti-religious propaganda, has bred ignorance, intolerance and even fear of religion.

I had to struggle tenaciously to visit even a few temples and monasteries when I was finally and grudgingly allowed access to Tibet. When I visited Xinjiang, in China’s far west, I was followed for an entire day by a car full of thugs. This effort at intimidation was triggered by my meeting, without first seeking permission, with members of China’s Ismaili Muslim community, who are cut off from their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan. I was given a public dressing-down by my Chinese government handler when I insisted on keeping my appointment at a Catholic seminary that was being harassed by Communist Party officials. I avoided such theatrics when I later attended a service at a Protestant house church, but only because I didn’t bother to seek permission beforehand, since I knew it wouldn’t have been granted anyway.

I endured a number of lectures from officials from the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) – long-winded “opening” statements that often absorbed 55 of the 60 minutes allotted for our meeting. These sessions only served to reinforce my sense that the professional formation of Chinese officials renders them incapable of understanding religion as anything other than a superstition, but one that has sufficient motivating power to be a threat to the party.

This perception is reinforced if the religion in question is Christianity, despite roots in China that are 1,000 years old. Often, Christianity is referred to as foreign, colonial and sinister. Yet Christian missionaries played a role in introducing health care, education and other modern social services in China in a period extending from the late 19th century to the beginning of the Communist era in 1949. Canadian missionaries helped establish universities and medical schools, and cared for those injured in natural disasters and from violence inflicted by warlords and the invading Japanese. They even helped organize resistance to the cruel practice of foot binding, something that had been inflicted on generations of young Chinese women.

While China’s official antagonism to religion has been fairly consistent, its approach has not been uniform over time. The anti-religious extremism of the Cultural Revolution was followed by a gradual increase in tolerance broadly across many aspects of Chinese life, particularly in the 1990s and early 2000s. The notable and tragic exception was the party’s bloody 1999 campaign against Falun Gong, a spiritual practice whose growing popularity caused communist officials to initiate a violent crackdown and propaganda campaign that led to waves of persecution, arrests, and reported torture and death.

A major rationale behind Beijing’s decision to relax controls on religion was its belief that it needed foreign support to power its economic revolution. But when Western countries were laid low by the economic crisis of 2008, that belief was dramatically diminished. After that recession, former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s administration became notable for its growing hostility to religion. This was tragically illustrated by a brutal government response to demonstrations in Tibet in 2008, and in the wake of communal violence in Xinjiang in 2009. Unrest in both places was triggered by legitimate local fears of religious and cultural assimilation; in both cases, the crackdowns targeted belief and believers.

When I visited Xinjiang, just after those 2009 riots, I was appalled by the formidable Chinese military presence: a ring of armed troops and military vehicles surrounding the great Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar. When I visited Tibet, I encountered menacing armed patrols forcing their way against the flow of pilgrims circling the Jokhang Temple, the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism.

Religious persecution has only deepened and darkened today under Xi Jinping. Even as the decades-long assault on Tibet continues, and as Christian churches topple, China is showing us something new in Xinjiang: the awesome power of the 21st-century surveillance state. It is chilling in its scope, ambition and efficiency, as Muslim holy places, scripture, music, cultural practices and even traditions of family life are methodically eradicated, while Xinjiang is itself transformed into a vast prison camp. China is effectively writing the textbook for religious persecution in the 21st century.

Not surprisingly, China’s response to COVID-19 has also created new opportunities for surveillance and control of religious institutions. According to The Globe and Mail, Beijing has effectively enlisted faith leaders in a broader campaign to promote the party’s patriotic agenda.

Party-cultivated fervour for Mr. Xi has verged on the religious. He has been inserted into religious liturgy and iconography in Xinjiang and elsewhere, mirroring his growing cult of personality in the broader party and society. Not so long ago, a more moderate party – one that was embracing consensus-based decision-making and a predictable, peaceful process for leadership transition – had tolerated a degree of ambiguity about who occupies the holy of holies in churches, mosques and temples. But as Mr. Xi consolidates his unquestioned personal authority, the pressure grows to enshrine him in the mysterious space at the pinnacle of each religion – the place reserved for God alone.

There is almost certainly an overseas dimension to Mr. Xi’s efforts to suppress religious freedom. The party seeks to infiltrate and corrupt any activity, cause or belief system, at home or abroad, that attracts target communities. When shared religious belief brings members of the Chinese diaspora, or Tibetans, or Uyghurs together in Canada, it offers the party an opportunity for infiltration, for surveillance, for influence operations and for intimidation. And our government fails these groups by being less than resolute when it comes to speaking up about religious persecution in China.

Part of the reason is bad diplomacy, plain and simple. There is a pervasive notion in Ottawa circles that you can advance a cause by not speaking honestly about it – that China will somehow moderate its behaviour in exchange for our silence, rather than shrewdly equating our silence with consent. But the silent treatment never works with China: It only emboldens Beijing.

Indeed, it is precisely this colossally naïve diplomacy that is at the heart of the Vatican’s disastrous but recently renewed agreement with China, in which the Catholic Church has obtained modest concessions relating to the appointment of bishops and, in return, has remained silent about China’s human-rights abuses, including attacks on the religious freedom of Chinese Catholics and other believers.

But there is more to Canada’s disinclination to speak out. I believe our present government has been indifferent, at best, when it comes to religious freedom here at home.

In 2016, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government eliminated Global Affairs’ Office of Religious Freedom, a standalone initiative created by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2013 to monitor religious persecution around the world. That announcement was delivered with a hint of secular disapproval: “We believe that human rights are better defended when they are considered, universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, as set out in the Vienna Declaration,” said Stéphane Dion, who was foreign minister at the time. What’s hardest to understand is that he was saying this as violence was increasing against religious believers in China, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.

Then, in 2017, Governor-General Julie Payette delivered an inexplicably offensive anti-religious rant. “We are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process,” she said in a speech at the Canadian Science Policy Conference, mocking the idea that faith and reason could possibly intersect. Strangely, when the Prime Minister finally addressed the controversy, it was to defend his appointee, and not the millions of Canadians she had insulted.

That same year, we also witnessed the government’s clumsy attempt to require organizations applying for summer jobs funding to attest that their core mandate respects the right to abortion. Although this failed, religious organizations continue to worry, justifiably, about respect for conscience rights. They watch anxiously as the Canadian government broadens the availability of what it refers to as assisted dying by redefining promised safeguards as impediments before steadily sweeping them away.

This is deeply troubling. Perhaps those in power in this country can no longer summon the required reserves of understanding, tolerance and mutual respect that allow religious belief to flourish. But what is certainly clear is that Canadians are unlikely to champion religious freedom in China, or anywhere, if we don’t respect it everywhere – Canada included.


Why CSIS believes Canada is a ‘permissive target’ for China’s interference

Useful reminder, as Canada faces the ongoing hostage taking of the two Michaels by the Chinese government, of the need for greater caution in dealing with the Chinese government and its various entities:

Canada is an “attractive and permissive target” for Chinese interference that endangers the “foundations of our fundamental institutions, including our system of democracy itself,” according to a recent national security review.

The reason, experts suggest, is because China’s Communist Party has won the support of some influential Canadians by using economic carrots and sticks, while public attention on Beijing’s broad campaign is “almost non-existent.”

The national security review says “for years Canadian Security Intelligence Service has investigated and reported on the threat” of foreign interference. But unlike Canada’s Western intelligence allies, Ottawa hasn’t responded with strong countermeasures.

Chinese-Canadian community leader asks Ottawa to offer support against Beijing influence networks

In an interview, Global News pressed Liberal MP David McGuinty, chair of the national security and intelligence committee, to explain why Canada is “permissive” of China’s methods.

McGuinty said he could only answer by citing the report findings because of its sensitivity. He chose to read this quote: “The People’s Republic of China utilizes its growing economic wealth to mobilize interference operations: ‘with deep coffers and the help of western enablers, the Chinese Communist Party uses money, rather than Communist ideology, as a powerful source of influence, creating parasitic relationships of long-term dependence.’”

‘Sweetheart deals’

The committee’s report named two countries — Russia and China — among those conducting “sophisticated and pervasive foreign interference activities against Canada.”

But intelligence officials and former diplomats, including Canada’s former ambassador to China, believe China is the greater threat, in large part because the country has been successful in “elite capture.”

“China is the No. 1 threat to Canada and has been for some time,” David Mulroney, former ambassador to China, said in an interview.

China has used its economic leverage to secure “the voices” of political and business leaders in Canada with “sweetheart business deals” and “various inducements,” including lucrative board positions or honours in China, he said.

And as a result, Mulroney said he often hears people reciting Beijing’s line on issues such as the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou or are silent in the face of China’s mass detention of Uyghurs and incursions on democracy in Hong Kong.

“There are people a lot more senior than I was in government, and they have some serious business links with China,” Mulroney said. “China is very willing to weaponize trade and investment to compel people to say what they want them to say.”

The argument that Mulroney and experts interviewed by Global News make is not that all Canadian politicians and businesses that have traded with China have been influenced. Rather, they say, Beijing has targeted elites and deftly attempted to interweave the CCP’s interests with Canada’s economic interests, seeking to bend major decisions away from Canada’s democratic values.

And they say Canadians should see Hong Kong as a case study.

But recent events in the United States, Australia and Canada suggest that pushing back on China’s interference could have consequences. In 2019, China called for the firing of an NBA executive who tweeted support for Hong Kong, using the NBA’s business in China as leverage.

And Australia has faced trade sanction threats and was targeted in sophisticated state-based cyberattacks, its government said in June. Australia recently pressed for an international probe of Beijing’s actions in the coronavirus pandemic and Australia’s intelligence experts say China is likely behind the attacks. China denies the accusation.

And on Monday, Beijing warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “stop making irresponsible remarks,” according to The Associated Press, after Trudeau told reporters Beijing’s decision to charge Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor with spying was related to the Meng case.

But despite warning signs of China’s incursions, Canadian academics, think tanks and media have been way behind the international curve in scrutinizing China’s “clandestine” tactics, Mulroney said.

“Canada is kind of a sleepy and unaware target,” he said. “We don’t have the same kind of vigilance that you now see in places like Australia and New Zealand. That had better change.”

United Front operations

China uses a vast network of political, business and media operatives directed from Beijing, known as the United Front, in attempts to co-opt Chinese-Canadian communities and leaders, Mulroney and the experts interviewed by Global News said.

In June, Alex Joske, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, released a report aimed at helping international journalists identify and demystify United Front networks.

In it, Joske defines the United Front as “the system at the heart of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to influence foreign politicians, meddle in ethnic Chinese communities and transfer technologies from abroad … it is an exportation of the CCP’s political system (which) undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage.”

He believes the United Front could be just as active in Canada as it is in Australia, where an alleged United Front leader, billionaire and casino high-roller became a major funder of Australian political parties. An Australian senator also allegedly accepted funds from Chinese agents and touted China’s South China Sea policy against Australia’s position after the billionaire threatened to withdraw a $400,000 political donation.

Joske said in order to understand the United Front, people should look at China’s patient campaign to control Hong Kong, where China has used front groups to co-opt political leaders, tycoons and institutions since the 1990s.

“Hong Kong is a long way down the track,” Joske said. “But by looking at Hong Kong, you understand how the United Front works.”

Joske’s report also underlined the United Front’s mobilization during the COVID-19 pandemic — in Australia, Canada, the U.S. and U.K., Japan, Argentina and the Czech Republic — “to gather increasingly scarce medical supplies from around the world and send them to China.”

And based on China’s success using United Front networks during thecoronavirus pandemic, Beijing can be expected to ramp up the intensity of its United Front interference worldwide as tensions between China and the world rise in the post-COVID-19 landscape, Joske said.

“The CCP’s attempts to interfere in diaspora communities, influence political systems and covertly access valuable and sensitive technology will only grow.”

Joske’s report says United Front pioneers such as Premier Zhou Enlai, a CCP revolutionary, said the United Front should use “the legal to mask the illegal,” and the CCP should be “nestling intelligence within the United Front.”

And Chinese President Xi Jinping has elevated the United Front’s prominence in Beijing’s global plans.

“The United Front … is an important magic weapon for strengthening the party’s ruling position … and an important magic weapon for realizing the China Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation,” Xi said in a 2015 speech.

But China does not acknowledge the United Front facilitates espionage.

‘Many elected officials’

Experts describe Beijing as holding out carrots and sticks.

And unfortunately, it is Chinese diaspora communities that often face the sticks. According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, China uses “a range of tactics including threats, harassment, detention of family members abroad and refusal to issue travel documents or visas.”

Chinese-Canadian community leader Gloria Fung, director of democracy advocacy group Canada-Hong Kong Link, says she has seen China’s influence efforts in Canada become increasingly aggressive with both the carrot and the stick.

In the 1990s, United Front networks just made passive political donations to all Canadian political parties, Fung said. Now they are aggressively lobbying for Beijing’s policies, covertly offering political funding from Beijing and attempting to promote covert CCP party members for election, Fung claimed.

And Fung said she believes China has successfully influenced “many elected officials.”

“They could be bribing, offering money or material benefits to targets in the decision-making process,” Fung said. “Many elected officials are offered free tours to China. And many, when they returned, seem to have changed their positions towards China.”

Tensions reached a new level in August 2019, Fung said, when Hong Kong Canadians were targeted in anti-democracy counter-protests in a number of Canadian cities.

Fung pointed to a Hong Kong democracy counter-rally at Toronto’s Old City Hall on Aug. 17, where she says her group was surrounded by students and middle-aged leaders, who Fung associated with Toronto United Front groups.

A similar conflict occurred in Vancouver on Aug. 18 when a pro-China crowd surrounded a church where Hong Kong Canadians were praying.

By comparing photos and video of the event with pictures of meetings involving Chinese consulate officials, Global News sources identified several senior members in the crowd as directors of a pro-CCP association, which Chen Yonglin, a defected Chinese diplomat, alleges is a “controlling level” United Front group in Canada.

The pro-CCP association is part of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, a United Front group that Beijing uses to influence the Chinese diaspora, according to a 2018 report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

“United Front work is Beijing’s strategy to influence overseas Chinese communities, foreign governments and other actors … mainly through economic or financial inducement,” the commission’s chair, Robin Cleveland, told Global News. “The CCP considers ethnic Chinese everywhere to ultimately be Chinese subjects, regardless of their citizenship, and seeks to treat them as resources to assist in ‘the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’ whether they like it or not.”

A Chinese-Canadian academic ⁠— who is studying Beijing’s influence networks ⁠— agreed with Fung’s assessment of China’s efforts to control community groups.

The academic asked to remain anonymous because of fears that officials in Chinese consulates could interfere with their ongoing research.

“Many in the Chinese-Canadian diaspora do not want to have anything to do with the Chinese government. But unfortunately, immigrants from China and Hong Kong are not completely free from the government’s control and surveillance,” the academic said.

How Australia has combated the United Front

Most experts interviewed by Global News said Australia’s legislative reforms should be a model for other countries combating China’s interference campaigns.

In an interview, McGuinty, the intelligence committee chair, said the report underlined how Australia has taken concrete measures since 2018, including adding new offences to its Criminal Code.

The report says the new offences “provide a high degree of specificity on offences and threat activities, including on whether the activity was in the planning stages, intentional, reckless or funded by a foreign intelligence service.”

The penalties range from 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment. And “the legislation creates a new transparency scheme that prescribes the registration of persons acting as agents of foreign principals and requires regular public disclosures.”

Trudeau questioned on reports of pressure from Chinese government on Chinese-Canadian citizens

In an interview, Mulroney said: “We need to invest in national security and insist on greater transparency.”

He said currently, Canadians have no real idea whether influential politicians and businesspersons are acting for China or Canada. And it is extremely difficult to hold Canadian citizens that may be acting against Canadian interests to account under current laws.

“What Australia have done is give transparency requirements some legal teeth,” Mulroney said. “And they use their intelligence apparatus to make the case against people that are not transparent. And I think we need to consider these things so Canadians become far more aware of who is speaking for whom.”

Gloria Fung agreed.

“Legislative tools on corruption and fishy transactions need to be closely monitored and put under Parliament’s radar,” Fung said. “Australia has all kinds of legislative tools to handle political collusion.”

McGuinty was asked by Global News to explain the evident gap between Canadian intelligence’s strong warnings of China’s interference and the federal government’s response.

McGuinty reiterated that the committee recommendations are bipartisan and straightforward, and the committee purposefully chose Australia as an exemplar to be considered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

“We believe the government needs to up its game when it comes to foreign interference,” he said. “There is lots of room for improvement.”

‘Comparatively rare’

But University of B.C. China expert Prof. Paul Evans, who has argued for closer ties with China and published research indicating Canadians are losing confidence “about the role of the United States” in global affairs, told Global News “the discourse of ‘capture’ is especially dangerous.”

Evans draws a distinction between influence and “interference activities” and says “it is very difficult to estimate how many such incidents happen in Canada each year.”

“My sense is that they are comparatively rare,” Evans wrote in an email response. “It is unproductive to talk about undermining ‘institutions’ without specifying which ones are being discussed.”

Evans said it is “dangerous” to rely on Australia’s data and examples of foreign interference, and assume the same kinds and scale of interference activity is occurring in Canada.

“We have reached a dangerous phase of our debates about China policy where advocates of engagement, past and present, are being attacked not just for the content of their views and actions but also for their integrity and even loyalty,” Evans wrote. “This is vile terrain and reminiscent of the worst of the McCarthy era and anti-communist actions in the United States in the 1950s.”

Related commentary of interest:

Liberal government’s ‘almost humiliating’ posture toward China a missed opportunity: former top diplomat

ICYMI. While David Mulroney is the more “hardline” of the two, the fundamental message from Guy Saint-Jacques is the same:

Two former diplomats are warning that the Liberal government’s recent silence on China could reinforce the country’s increasingly belligerent actions on the world stage, amid concerns Chinese officials actively misled the World Health Organization during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Mulroney, who served as Canadian ambassador to China in Beijing between 2009 and 2012, said Ottawa’s “almost humiliating” posture toward China in recent weeks was a missed opportunity to acknowledge the country’s shortcomings during the viral outbreak.

China has drawn criticism for providing potentially faulty information to the WHO, particularly in the first weeks of the spread of COVID-19, which in turn left world leaders largely ill-prepared for the virus.

Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as Canada’s envoy to China from 2012 to 2016, said leaders in Canada and elsewhere need to call for a full investigation of the WHO after it uncritically relayed information from Beijing observers claim could be inaccurate.

He also denounced recent “reprehensible” comments by Health Minister Patty Hajdu, who dismissed claims about faulty Chinese reporting as “conspiracy theories” that originated “on the Internet.”

Mulroney said the recent silence by Ottawa is part of a long-standing instinct to gloss over Chinese aggressions, largely due to its tendency to retaliate and its growing economic heft. But an unwillingness to acknowledge even the possibility of Chinese misdeeds could sow public distrust.

“Ottawa can’t seem to shake this tendency to flatter,” he said in an interview with the National Post.

“I’m not suggesting that we need to insult China or provoke a quarrel. We should simply be guided by the facts. And right now the facts argue for the case that China was delinquent, that it wasn’t transparent enough. That’s not a conspiracy theory.”

“When you start acknowledging the truth, then positive and corrective action is possible. As long as you’re in denial, there’s no hope of action that will ameliorate the situation. This is a tremendous missed opportunity and it’s not too late for the government to slowly turn the ship around,” Mulroney said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has batted away repeated questions about the WHO this week, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would withdraw funding from the organization.

Then on Thursday, Trudeau came closer to acknowledging some of the criticisms of China and the WHO, saying “there have been questions asked” about the organization, “but at the same time it is really important that we stay coordinated as we move through this.”

Both former ambassadors said Trump’s threat to immediately pull funding from the WHO would needlessly and dangerously cripple the organization at a critical time.

Saint-Jacques, who acknowledged that Ottawa is in a “delicate” position with regards to China, said world leaders should call for a thorough review of the WHO’s handling of the pandemic once it is under control.

“You have to draw a line,” Saint-Jacques said. “You have to stop such behaviour. You have to acknowledge that if you dealt with this issue with a lot more transparency we would have avoided an international crisis that has led to one of the greatest recessions of our times.”

The Trudeau government has repeatedly been forced to navigate tense relations with China, particularly after Canadian authorities arrested the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies in 2018, at the request of the U.S.

An attempt by Trudeau early in his leadership to forge a free trade deal with the country quickly evaporated, after Chinese officials made it clear that they were disinterested in certain “progressive” elements put forward by Canada, including proposals around environmental policy and gender-based analysis.

“Cabinet did not fully realize what I call the dark side of China,” Saint-Jacques said of the trade mission.

Criticism of the WHO began in earnest on Jan. 14, when Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the organization, tweeted a message nearly identical to that of the Chinese government, saying researchers “have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” of the coronavirus.

By Jan. 20 Chinese officials finally confirmed that the virus could indeed spread through human contact, and shut down the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated. Another week passed before the WHO declared a public health emergency.

On Feb. 6, weeks after the body had designated a public health emergency, the organization issued a press release calling on countries to avoid imposing travel bans or “medically unnecessary restrictions” against China, saying such moves could “fuel racism” against the country.

Those directives were absorbed by national governments around the world, who were in turn caught off guard by the scope and nature of COVID-19.

The WHO’s director-general has dismissed much of the criticism of his organization as unnecessary “politicization” of the issue, but he has said the virus exposed some shortcomings at the United Nations group.

“No doubt, areas for improvement will be identified and there will be lessons for all of us to learn. But for now, our focus — my focus — is on stopping this virus and saving lives.”

Source: Liberal government’s ‘almost humiliating’ posture toward China a missed opportunity: former top diplomat

A year ago, Ottawa did the right thing by arresting Meng Wanzhou. We’re still paying the price

The latest by former ambassador to China, David Mulroney, capping a series of articles in the Globe and elsewhere on the challenges posed by China and the arguments for a more robust response:

A year after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, new reporting is shedding light on what actually happened and when. But we’re still a long way from understanding the fallout from the arrest, and what it tells us about China and our future.

It appears that Vancouver was the place the Americans selected in their bid to get the well-travelled Ms. Meng arrested because they deemed Canada the country most likely to comply with their request. Given the price we’ve paid since, that’s a dubious honour. But it’s also an indication of the extent to which a bipartisan cross-section of official Washington trusts Canada. That trust was not misplaced.

It’s also clear that Canada was given advance warning of the request, although not much. Canadian officials heard from the Americans on Nov. 30, the day before Ms. Meng’s arrival in Vancouver, allowing them the minimum amount of time to act.

But it was time enough for the team that considered the American evidence. The toughest calls in Ottawa always come with the tightest deadlines. Getting them right is the essence of a senior official’s job.

That said, it’s not clear that officials anticipated how furiously China would react, or the difficulty of managing an extended crisis in Canada-China relations. Having stepped up to make the right call, Ottawa then seemed to go into responsive mode, consistently a step behind a strident and formidably vengeful China.

Once the decision to arrest Ms. Meng was made, it was entirely appropriate to advise the Prime Minister – he was, after all, at a summit that included both U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

But we should be wary of the idea that the Prime Minister could or should have weighed in to cancel the arrest because of its impact on Canada-China relations. That would set a precedent whereby all future extradition requests concerning China, and – ultimately – any other country big enough to make life difficult for us, would follow a separate, political decision-making track. This would be exploited by China and other rising powers, and risk transforming Canada into a safe haven for fraudsters, sanction evaders and human-rights violators.

We should be equally dismissive of the objection that China’s consular officials weren’t informed of the arrest in a timely manner. When I served as ambassador, China was notoriously cavalier about informing us, even months later, of the arrest of Canadian citizens, particularly those of Chinese origin. Chinese officials were notified of Ms. Meng’s arrest in a fraction of the time they typically take to inform us when a Canadian is arrested.

That said, beyond simply advising the Chinese of the arrest, we probably should have reached out quickly to more senior Chinese officials to explain what had happened and where things might go. But given that our communicator-in-chief at that point was John McCallum, our garrulous former ambassador, it probably wouldn’t have helped much.

Ultimately, it’s hard not to feel that the tight time frame for decision making was a blessing, enabling us to do the right thing before other, less-principled agendas had time to emerge. They were not long in appearing. We should not underestimate how much more difficult managing the issue became once various high-level Ottawa insiders began to talk up the idea of abandoning the extradition process. It’s no wonder the Chinese were seriously confused – so were most Canadians.

Taking stock today, what’s most discouraging is our persistent failure to learn from the painful experiences of a difficult year, despite the fact that we’ve spent that time uncharacteristically focused on China. There has been a lot to take in. Along with the cruel detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, we’ve witnessed almost daily examples of Chinese brutality in Xinjiang and repression in Hong Kong, and mounting evidence of Beijing’s interference around the world. Yet, Ottawa continues to treat China as an old friend with whom we’ve had a temporary falling out.

We did the right thing a year ago, and we’re still doing it when it comes to Ms. Meng, who is, unlike our detained Canadians, being treated fairly and with respect. And we’re still paying the price China now exacts from any country that values the rule of law over the rule of Beijing – a new reality whose implications, a full year later, continue to elude us.

Source: A year ago, Ottawa did the right thing by arresting Meng Wanzhou. We’re still paying the price: David Mulroney

Former Canadian ambassador suggests registry to help identify foreign agents

Hard to disagree:

A veteran of Canada’s diplomatic corps is urging the creation of a federal registry, modelled on one in Australia, to shed light on the work Canadians, including former senior public officials, are doing on behalf of foreign governments.

David Mulroney, who worked for 32 years in the Canadian foreign service, including as Canada’s ambassador to China, said there’s an increasing risk today that foreign governments are using Canadians to mould public opinion and lawmaking here.

“It is not being alarmist to suggest that foreign countries continue to seek influence in Canada and that some are even willing to interfere covertly in Canadian affairs. If anything, the threat is growing,” Mr. Mulroney said in an interview.

What he’s proposing is that Canadians paid to lobby or communicate political messages on behalf of foreign states or enterprises owned by a foreign government would be required to disclose their activities in a federal registry. He said his proposal goes far beyond the scope of the existing federal lobbyists registry, which he says has loopholes that do not capture all activity he believes should be brought to light.

Mr. Mulroney said the rise of China as an economic and geopolitical power has added urgency to the question of foreign interference and influence. “China’s Communist Party has well-developed mechanisms for influencing political opinion in foreign countries,” he said.

He said he was unwilling to comment on individual cases, but stated that, under his proposal, virtually any work undertaken by former Canadian officials for China’s state-owned corporations would need to be disclosed in a registry.

New foreign-influence transparency laws took effect recently in Australia. The rules came in response to concerns about Chinese government influence in Australian politics.

Under Mr. Mulroney’s proposal, former cabinet ministers would be required to register almost all work – not just lobbying – that they are doing for foreign governments or related entities. Mr. Mulroney argues that international work promoting Canadian values and interests – such as humanitarian work – would remain exempt, but all other employment in which a foreign state is seeking to benefit from the knowledge, experience or contacts a former minister gained while serving Canada would need to be reported. The obligation would last their lifetime.

Former senior public servants, including deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers and ambassadors, would face the same high bar for registration, but only for 15 years.

Mr. Mulroney is publishing his proposal in a paper through the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank.

Ward Elcock, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former deputy minister of National Defence, said he supports Mr. Mulroney’s proposed registry.

“There are foreign governments who did have an interest in influencing Canadian public policy in one way or another and, yes, I think transparency is required,” he said.

However, Mr. Elcock said a registry won’t help if former politicians or senior bureaucrats attempt to hide their affiliation with foreign governments or state-owned enterprises.

Richard Fadden, another former director of CSIS, said he broadly supports Mr. Mulroney’s proposal.

Mr. Fadden, who was also national security adviser to prime ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, said he thinks however that China is “far from the only country for us to worry about” and would like to see the registration requirements also apply to Canadian military ranks down to the Canadian Armed Forces equivalent of an assistant deputy minister.

Mr. Mulroney is proposing two extra measures on top of what Australia has done.

Any Canadians serving on federal government boards, agencies, foundations or councils in Canada would be prohibited from working for foreign governments or related entities for the duration of their appointment. It would also require Canadians to relinquish membership in what is called the Queen’s Privy Council, which is a lifetime designation granted to prime ministers, cabinet ministers and chief justices of Canada.

Mr. Fadden doesn’t support requiring Canadians in the Queen’s Privy Council to relinquish membership if they work for a foreign government.

He said if a former senior public official is, for instance, working for Britain to help promote a bilateral trade deal with Canada they shouldn’t be forced to give up the P.C. designation.

Stockwell Day, a former Conservative cabinet minister and vice-chair of the Canada China Business Council, a lobby group, said the proposed registry is not needed given existing rules against lobbying that remain in place for half a decade after leaving office.

Mr. Day said he could see the registry becoming a “nightmarish bureaucratic overburden trying to report working arrangements of individuals 15 years after they have been in office” and predicted the law would almost certainly also be challenged in court “as an unconstitutional restriction on the right to work.”

Mr. Mulroney said however that existing lobbying registry rules do not cover the sort of disclosure he’s proposing. “Think about the possibility of a former, or even a current politician taking talking points from a foreign government. … If you are speaking or disseminating information on behalf of a foreign entity, you need to be clear about your sources. Otherwise you mislead Canadians.”

Source:   Politics Former Canadian ambassador suggests registry to help identify foreign agents Subscriber content Steven Chase September 23    

Glavin: While Hong Kong fights for democracy, Canada goes silent

Will be interesting to continue to watch how this issue plays out among Chinese Canadians, mainland and Hong Kong origin, the degree that this is reflected in Chinese language ethnic media and whether this becomes an election issue for Chinese Canadians and party messaging:

All flights out of Hong Kong International Airport were cancelled this afternoon as authorities blamed protesters for disruptions following a brutal police crackdown on street demonstrations over the weekend. In the most dramatic civil disturbances since Hong Kong was turned over to China in 1997, more than 600 people have been arrested in what has been a largely non-violent uprising. It has carried on for 10 straight weeks.

In an ominous escalation of its threats of retaliation, Beijing dispatched a massive convoy of armoured vehicles from the Peoples Armed Police that arrived Saturday at a stadium in Shenzhen, just across the border from the semi-autonomous financial hub. Last Tuesday in Shenzhen, following a general strike that paralyzed much of Hong Kong, more than 12,000 “anti-riot” police engaged in elaborate mock riot-suppression drills. On Sunday, a senior Communist Party official declared that “the first signs of terrorism” are beginning to appear in Hong Kong.

The confrontations over the weekend sent 40 people to hospital, including protesters, volunteer medics, journalists and bystanders. They were injured by baton-swinging police or struck by tear-gas canisters, rubber bullets or bean-bag rounds fired at close range directly into groups of people in crowded metro stations.

The Hong Kong protests have been escalating ever since June 9, when a million people marched in opposition to a now-suspended extradition bill that anticipated the integration of Hong Kong into China’s penal system. The protesters’ demands quickly grew to include the full withdrawal of the proposed law, a retraction of the “riot” classification that put protesters arrested in a series of clashes on June 12 at risk of 10-year prison sentences, amnesty for all arrested protesters, an independent inquiry into police conduct, and perhaps most importantly, the relaunch of a promised electoral reform process—the main objective of the failed 2014 “Umbrella Movement” protests—to establish a system of one person, one vote.

This summer’s protests constitute the most direct challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he consolidated power seven years ago and embarked on a policy of accelerated internal repression and outward neo-imperialist belligerence. Xi’s reign has been marked by intensive surveillance and ramped-up censorship, the persecution of human rights defenders and the mass incarceration of the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang.

His foreign-policy initiatives include the annexation of the South China Sea, the militarization of China’s global “Belt and Road” initiative and a series of outlandishly aggressive moves, not least the “hostage diplomacy” at work in the arbitrary arrests of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The protest leadership, meanwhile, is organic and profoundly democratic, bringing together a diverse cross section of Hong Kong Society that includes separatists, young, disaffected militants, middle-class democrats, the Roman Catholic church and the Hong Kong Law Society. Squared off against Xi’s authoritarian regime in Beijing and his incompetent regional puppet, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s protest movement has tried and largely failed to win support from the world’s liberal democracies.

A recent poll by Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Research Institute found that while 58 per cent of the protesters are animated by their dismal economic prospects, mostly in relation to housing, 84 per cent say they’re protesting on account of their distrust of Lam’s administration, and 87 per cent are taking to the streets for the “pursuit of democracy.”

Natalie Hui, a senior member of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong organization, says Canadians are not facing up to the dire implications of the Hong Kong crisis, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is foolishly wishing it would all just go away. “What we are seeing in Hong Kong is a crystal ball for Canada,” Hui told me.

There are at least 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong. Canada is home to another 1.5 million ethnic Chinese. Many have family in mainland China, and they fear that their relatives will be harassed if they speak up. The Trudeau government’s policy of business-as-usual trade engagement and otherwise saying nothing to arouse Beijing’s ire will do nothing in the cause of freeing Spavor and Kovrig, who were arrested in retaliation for last December’s detention in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou. The chief financial officer for the Zhenzhen telecom giant Huawei, Meng was picked up on a U.S. Justice Department extradition warrant on charges of bank fraud and evading U.S. sanctions on Iran.

On the bright side, Hui said Hongkongers are showing that you can fight Beijing, and if you won’t necessarily win you won’t necessarily lose, either. Hongkongers have fought Beijing to a draw, so far, and they’ve managed to stop the extradition bill in its tracks. “Hong Kong is showing that you can push back. They are inside the mouth of the lion, but they still say no to the regime. But we must take action now.”

The Trudeau government, however, has failed to uphold the global values it so loudly claims to cherish. “This is a very critical moment in history. I don’t want to demoralize people but I think the Chinese Communist Party will destroy peoples’ careers and arrest a lot of people. Canada is weak. As a Canadian citizen, I have not seen anything from our government. We have emboldened China’s thuggish behaviours, because we haven’t done anything. It’s just silence.”

Maclean’s reached out to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office for comment, but got no response.

David Mulroney, Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, agrees that silence is the worst policy. “We’ve really, really let down the side. It may be too little, too late now, but I’d like to see clearer statements from the foreign minister and the Prime Minister. Anything is better than silence.”

The horrible predicament that Kovrig and Spavor face is no excuse for Canada’s silence, Mulroney said. “China is hoping they can so intimidate people and cow people in the west that they can achieve their aims with almost no cost to themselves. When Canada is silent, when much of Europe other than the U.K. is silent, it’s easier to get away with what they’re trying to do, to undermine what freedoms Hong Kong still has.

“You’ve got to be honest with China. You’ve got to be direct with China, whether it’s detentions of Canadian citizens or attacks on democracy and autonomy in Hong Kong, we have to speak up whenever we can. I don’t think our silence does anything other than confirm China in its commitment to hostage diplomacy. If they find that by doing this they secure our silence, it makes it even more likely that they’ll do it in the future. It confirms them in their proclivity to take hostages and detain people. So it does nothing to change their behaviour.”

While U.S. President Donald Trump has been worse than useless—Trump has praised Xi for his restraint in dealing with Hongkongers, and has referred to the protests as “riots”—one of Hong Kong’s best hopes at the moment is the bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy bill that’s up for consideration in the U.S. Congress when the summer recess ends after Labour Day. Mulroney has added his name to a letter from a long list of China experts, directed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging quick adoption of the bill.

Among other things, the bill would potentially remove Hong Kong’s special status in U.S. trade law, a status that has allowed China to evade rules and sanctions by employing Hong Kong as a conduit for inbound and outbound investment since the early 1990s. The bill would also suspend visa restrictions on criminal convictions for individuals convicted for participating in demonstrations, and would sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials deemed guilty of human rights abuses.

Passage of the bill could put Beijing on notice that if the Hong Kong democracy movement is crushed, Beijing would reap no benefit, but would instead stand to be punished severely in its trade relationships with the United States.

It’s too bad that Canada isn’t contemplating a similar law, Mulroney said. Hui agreed.

“A Canadian law, like that. That is my dream, that we could do that,” she said. “That is my dream.”

Source: While Hong Kong fights for democracy, Canada goes silent

With lives at stake, Canada’s misguided vision of China demands a careful reboot: David Mulroney

Another good column by Mulroney. His reference to the naiveté of diaspora politics, highlighted, particularly relevant given recent instances of Chinese government activity in Canada (e.g., Student groups call for Ottawa to investigate alleged interference by Chinese officials on Canadian campuses):

Canada’s primary foreign-policy challenge with China has been clear for months now. We have to secure the freedom of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and save the lives of fellow Canadians Robert Schellenberg and Fan Wei, who face death sentences from a murky Chinese legal system that takes instruction from the Chinese state. Our message to allies is clear, too: we all have a stake in pushing back against a China that uses hostage diplomacy, economic blackmail and even the threat of execution to achieve its objectives.

But there’s another equally challenging China task on the horizon. We need to start thinking about what we’ve learned from this terrible episode, and how it should shape our future relationship with China.

We’re not very good at this. The natural inclination of every bureaucracy in times of crisis is to restore the status quo ante. This happens for a variety of reasons, among them the fact that reviving an old strategy is a lot easier than thinking up a new one. But we’re also still in the grips of a misguided vision of China, one especially dear to the Canadian governing and business classes, that naively embraces almost everything that Beijing has on offer.

The current government refers to this as “comprehensive engagement,” something former ambassador John McCallum rendered more descriptively for Chinese audiences with the phrase geng duo, meaning “even more.” Just about any idea was worth considering, was the implication – as long as it lived up to our Olympian ambitions.

Few former diplomats, including this one, can claim to have entirely resisted the geng duo impulse to substitute promotion for policy. But given the undeniable evidence of China’s hostility to core Canadian interests, starting with the safety of our citizens, we urgently need to reconsider our approach.

There is no shutting the door to China, which is increasingly central to our prosperity and to solving threats to the environment, global health and food safety. But we will have to be much more thoughtful about how we do this, moving from comprehensive engagement to something smarter and more tailored to our objectives and vulnerabilities.

The days of indiscriminately encouraging China-bound travel and pumping Canadian delegations into China, a state that capriciously detains foreigners, are over. We should start by skipping events dedicated to China’s boundless appetite for international self-promotion or the delusion that China is a democracy in the making.

We also need to think carefully about trade and investment promotion, particularly in sectors like canola, where China’s immense demand gives it leverage over us. We need to work even harder at finding new markets, and doing more processing here in Canada to add value to what we sell. China seems to find economic blackmail easiest with commodities.

It’s also time to re-examine the received wisdom that shapes our China strategy, purging it of a sort of malware encouraged by China to delude the naive. This includes such fictions as the idea that China is inherently peaceful and has no territorial ambitions, that it abides by a policy of non-interference in other countries, that trade is a favour it bestows on friendly nations, and that access to its leaders is an end and reward in itself.

The idea that our China policy tends to be highly corrupted by these falsehoods is proven by our enduring gullibility on two important counts. The first is the idea that Canadians of Chinese origin are something of a shared bilateral resource, and that members of this community have a responsibility to help their fellow citizens better understand China. This fits hand-in-glove with the Canadian penchant for diaspora politics, and opens the door to Chinese interference.

The second powerful myth is that China is so uniquely sensitive that, no matter what it does, any response other than abject silence is hurtful and dangerously counterproductive. This has contributed to persistent Canadian passivity in the face of outrageous behaviour.

Getting China right will be particularly difficult for a Liberal government that has, to put it charitably, struggled with foreign policy. The government approaches the world beyond our borders with the inexplicable conviction that other countries are either as progressive as Liberal voters or aspire to be. This is wrong, and dangerously so.

We simply can’t postpone a rethink of our approach to China, and we must finally be open to the idea that, when it comes to engaging Beijing, smarter is better than comprehensive – and less is almost certainly better than more.

Source: With lives at stake, Canada’s misguided vision of China demands a careful reboot David Mulroney May 1, 2019