Engaging China with Canadian Values While Making a Stronger Stand

June 18, 2019 Updated: June 18, 2019

Since seizing power in 1949, the party-state in Beijing has caused the deaths of tens of millions of innocent Chinese nationals. Three deadly campaigns were the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962), the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), and the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

The violence unleashed in mid-1999 by then-regime leader Jiang Zemin against adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline continues, with the regime currently applying similar treatment to the Uighur people in East Turkestan.

Worsening repression is illustrated by a Hong Kong Legislative Council proposal to amend its extradition laws to allow anyone apprehended by Hong Kong police to be removed at Beijing’s request for “trial” in China on concocted charges. After huge street protests, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, suspended the proposal, but made it clear that it was only being delayed.

Canadian Clive Ansley, who practised law in Shanghai for 14 years, observes: “China does not have a legal system in any meaningful sense. … There’s a saying amongst Chinese lawyers and judges who truly believe in the Rule of Law: ‘Those who hear the case do not make the judgment; those who make the judgment have not heard the case.’ … Nothing which has transpired in the ‘courtroom’ has any impact on the ‘judgment.’”

Jonathan Manthorpe’s book “Claws of the Panda” chronicles how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has infected Canada’s politics, media, academia, and business. He concludes that Ottawa should “listen more closely to public disquiet than to fantasies … by the CCP’s agents. …. Interference by the CCP in the public life in Canada, coupled with the intimidation and harassment of individual Canadians, demand a response.”

Both Australia and New Zealand, he notes, have been much more vigorous in exposing and countering Beijing’s tactics.

Manthorpe cites former Canadian Security and Intelligence Service analyst Michel Juneau-Katsuya saying in 2014 that the agency “found evidence that the Chinese consulate in Toronto was directly interfering in elections by sending Chinese students into the homes of Chinese-language-only households and telling residents which candidates [to vote for].” He adds that between 2006 and 2017 there were 36 trips to China by Canadian parliamentarians sponsored by the Chinese regime or business groups.

David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China, wrote in a Globe and Mail op-ed: “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.”

Canada, he thinks, remains in the grip 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.”

“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,” he wrote.

Guy Saint-Jacques, another recent Canadian ambassador to China, has said: “The Canadian government should announce that it will no longer pursue a free trade agreement with China because of this trust that has disappeared [and] file an official complaint against China [with the WTO] for what they are doing to our canola exports.” He also said Ottawa should consider expelling Chinese athletes training in Canada for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

“We are at the stage where we must be firm because this is the only language that China understands,” he told CBC’s Power and Politics.

Finally, former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing, Charles Burton, has said: “China has a million or more Turkic Muslims in ‘re-education’ cultural genocide camps in the PRC’s northwest … [while] there are huge numbers of China’s own political prisoners suffering … ‘black jail’ incarceration. In this light, Canadian concerns are unlikely to be very high on the agenda of China’s Communist leadership.”

“The practice of most Western nations, to condemn politically while engaging economically, has enabled China to make divide-and-conquer an art form,” he wrote in an Ottawa Citizen op-ed.

Burton believes Beijing’s existential threat to democratic societies works because we have looked away for more than 25 years while its party-state ignored international human rights and rules-based trade. Canada still lacks a coherent multi-national strategy against Chinese influence operations. “The less we respond to it in any substantive way, the more China is emboldened in its practice of global disruption,” he wrote.

What is urgently needed from Ottawa is much stronger political will and more sophistication in exerting Canadian values with Beijing on bilateral issues.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s refusal last week to quash the extradition of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou to the United States in a risky and probably dangerous attempt to end the dispute with Beijing is a good start.

David Kilgour, a lawyer by profession, served in Canada’s House of Commons for almost 27 years. In Jean Chretien’s cabinet, he was secretary of state (Africa and Latin America) and secretary of state (Asia-Pacific). He is the author of several books and co-author with David Matas of “Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.