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.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-senator-warns-china-might-not-free-spavor-and-kovrig-in-meng-deal-if/

Ivison: Useful idiots of the world unite – and they have, with ‘Free Meng’ event

Appropriate use of the term:

The etymology of the phrase “useful idiot” is debated. Some people suggest it was coined by Lenin. Others credit Stalin, who used it to describe the confused and misguided American sympathizers who aided the Soviet agenda.

It came to mind when reading about a virtual event being held Tuesday in anticipation of the second anniversary of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive being detained in Vancouver, pending extradition to the United States.

That’s shocking.

Ashton has not only agreed to participate in the event, she has sponsored a petition in the House of Commons that calls for Meng’s immediate release; urges the government to “protect Canadian jobs” by allowing Huawei to participate in the roll-out of 5G in Canada, and encourages a foreign policy review to develop an “independent” foreign policy on China.

Yves Engler, a fellow of the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, said he is sympathetic to the plight of the two Michaels. “But who began the process? Hostage diplomacy is a terrible idea but who started it?” he said.

Meng’s detention “upholds unilateral and illegal U.S. sanctions” against Iran, he said.

That’s not true.

U.S. authorities are seeking Meng’s extradition on fraud charges, alleging she lied to HSBC as part of a scheme to obtain financing, thereby putting the bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions in Iran.

However, when B.C. Supreme Court judge Heather Holmes ruled that Meng can be sent to the U.S. to be prosecuted, she did so because she deemed her crime, as alleged by the U.S., is also a crime in Canada. The essence of the alleged crime was not violating U.S. sanctions but deceiving a bank to obtain financial services.

On the petition’s second demand, Engler defended the call to allow Huawei to be involved in Canada’s 5G network. “We have real concerns about surveillance…The Chinese government has its own repressive spying and intelligence apparatus. But it doesn’t come close to the power of the NSA (America’s National Security Agency) or the Five Eyes (the intelligence alliance comprising Canada, the U.S., U.K, Australia and New Zealand). Canadians should be more concerned about the NSA in Canada than the Chinese government,” he said. “I don’t think that China is a threat to most Canadians.”

While it is true that no Huawei code or hardware has been linked definitively to the Chinese state, the company is beholden to the Communist Party’s interests and instruction. Security experts believe that Huawei receives contracts from the Chinese military to develop dual use communications technology and that the threat is legitimate.

A generous interpretation is that Engler, Manly and Ashton are well-intentioned idealists who qualify for Stalin’s (or Lenin’s) depiction.

Engler admitted he has never been to China, where surveillance has been elevated to an art-form.

We can probably all agree that we do not welcome a cold war with the Chinese, far less anything warmer.

But to present, as the Canadian Peace Congress does, Meng’s detention as “an unprovoked kidnapping,” or Canada’s participation in naval operations in east Asia as an attempt to “provoke and encircle the PRC,” is to take adolescent gullibility to dangerous levels.

Ashton can have no excuses. She has been an MP for 12 years and run for her party’s leadership twice.

Does she agree with the Communist Party’s English language mouthpiece, the Global Times, that Canada has surrendered its judicial and diplomatic independence to the U.S.?

I would have asked her, if she had returned calls seeking comment.

A far less benign but more considered view of China emerged from last weekend’s Halifax Security Forum, which summarized the opinions of 250 experts in a handbook for delegates. The forum concluded that modern-day China has become the most powerful authoritarian state in history and a major challenger to the liberal world. The consensus is that China’s ambitions will not stop at its borders and that it intends to undermine democracies around the world – in particular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which “now hang precariously in the balance.”

Even if the radical left is able to discount what is going on in Hong Kong and the South China Sea, how can it overlook the oppression in Xinjiang that all human rights organizations say is intensifying?

The explanation appears to be a reflexive contempt and loathing toward the United States that excuses any and all atrocities by other nations.

This, after all, is the same Niki Ashton who tweeted #HandsOff Venezuela last year, in support of the despicable Nicolas Maduro regime. The illegitimate president must have been gratified that the world is so packed with useful idiots.

Source: Useful idiots of the world unite – and they have, with ‘Free Meng’ event

Businesses mark 50th anniversary with calls for Canada to end Meng Wanzhou case, broaden trade

Silence is complicity. Shameful:

Members of the Canada-China business establishment in Beijing applauded a senior Chinese official who demanded the release of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and held Ottawa solely responsible for problems between the two countries.

Loud clapping rang out in a ballroom at the Four Seasons hotel in the Chinese capital on Tuesday when vice-minister of commerce Wang Shouwen called for Ms. Meng to “come back to her homeland as soon as possible.” He was speaking at a dinner for the Canada-China Business Council annual general meeting.

The room remained quiet when the Canadian government asked for equal treatment. Silence followed when Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, called for the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who are being held in spartan Chinese detention centres, and requested clemency for Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian sentenced to death on drug charges. It was silent, too, when Canadian ambassador Dominic Barton called for the same.

Nearly two years after the arrest of Ms. Meng in the Vancouver airport at the request of U.S. authorities, a gulf is widening between Canadians who want little to do with Beijing and those with financial interests in China who see acquiescence to Beijing’s demands as the simplest way out of the impasse.

“That this issue has been dragging is frustrating,” said Olivier Desmarais, the scion of one of Canada’s most influential corporate families who is senior vice-president of Power Corp. and chairs the business council.

Members of the group “very much want to see these legal cases resolved,” Mr. Desmarais said in a videotaped address to the dinner on Tuesday night, in a reference to Ms. Meng and the two Canadians.

The scallop and strip-loin dinner sponsored by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and several Canadian firms was the closest the two countries came to a commemorative event on Tuesday for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Leaders in Ottawa and Beijing did not have a phone call to mark the date, which in the past has been feted as a moment Canada helped spark broad Western recognition of Communist-run China. This year, it comes amid an intractable dispute.

Montreal-headquartered Power Corp. has long held a position of unique influence between the two countries, and Mr. Desmarais’s comments express a sentiment that has grown among a business establishment that sees China as a place of long-term growth and an immediate salve to the pain of the pandemic. While Canada’s worldwide exports fell 16.7 per cent in the first seven months of the year, they were up 2.2 per cent to China.

“The Chinese market is incredibly important to Canadian jobs,” with salaries that “depend on a strong continued relationship,” Mr. Desmarais said.

A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that Canadian public opinion toward China has plunged to levels never before recorded, with 73 per cent now holding unfavourable views of the country.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, too, has adopted a more skeptical posture to China, saying that much of the agenda between the two countries, including talks toward a free-trade agreement, has been placed on hold or halted.

Canadian businesses, however, continue to press for greater ties – and the Chinese government is renewing its push for a trade deal. A “free-trade agreement is in line with our interests,” Mr. Wang, the vice-minister, said on Tuesday, adding that liberalized trade could expand flows of capital and talent and “bring more dividends to people on both sides.”

“China is opening its door wider and wider,” he said. “Canada could open its door wider and wider to China as well.” He assigned Ottawa full blame for problems between the two countries. “The source of those difficulties and responsibility for them does not lie with the Chinese side,” he said.

Canadian corporations have sought to ignore political frictions.

Canadian-built brands such as Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Canada Goose and Arc’teryx have been expanding their Chinese business. Arc’teryx, now owned by Chinese sporting goods conglomerate Anta Sports, recently opened its largest corporate flagship in Shanghai and more than doubled its National Day holiday sales in China compared with 2019, said Samuel Tsui, general manager of Arc’teryx Greater China.

“Business is incredible,” he said.

Huawei increased its research and development spending in Canada by 30 per cent this year. Huawei has kept “our commitment to the country,” said Yan Lida, a board member of the Chinese technology giant.

“There’s a lot of noise out there, a lot of ripples on the surface, a lot of posturing,” said Bob Kwauk, an emeritus partner with Blake Cassels Graydon LLP, who led the firm’s Beijing office. “But business, trade will get done.”

Mr. Barton noted that China’s retail sales market is now nearly equal in size to that of the United States.

“China is here to stay. It’s going to be and is already a superpower in what they’re doing, and we have to figure out how to work together over the next 50 years,” he said. Ottawa has made a priority of “getting our relationship right,” he said, and wants “to deepen our understanding of China. Deepen our China capabilities, with the ambition of having the best China desk in the G7.”

Mr. Desmarais pointed to ways China and Canada can meet each others’ needs in innovation, health care and environmental technologies.

“Honestly, we could do so much together,” he said.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-canada-china-mark-50-years-of-diplomatic-ties/