Kenney Hopes for Lighter Hand under New Chinese Leadership

April 12, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Jason Kenney
In a recent interview, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, seen here at an event in Ottawa March 7, told The Epoch Times he hopes for better human rights under new Chinese leadership. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

TORONTO—Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was asked about political upheaval in China during a recent interview in Toronto.

Infighting within the highest ranks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sparked rumours of a coup attempt while a key official whom Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with on the last day of his recent trip to China has since been ousted.

That official, Bo Xilai, was widely held as an up-and-coming star within the Party, though the Epoch Times predicted his downfall weeks before it was officially confirmed.

Once China’s commerce minister, Bo was well known in Canada’s business community. As his demise became apparent, some in the business community lamented the loss of an ally to trade.

But Bo was also one of the Chinese regime’s most ambitious and brutal cadres. He rose in power through his zealous adherence to former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin’s crackdown on Falun Gong. Under Bo’s watch as Governor of Liaoning, over 100 Falun Gong adherents were tortured to death with many more detained and tortured, including Rong Jin, who now lives in Toronto.

Infighting within the regime is divided on factional lines drawn between those most responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong, and those least connected to it. The crackdown on the meditation group remains the largest human rights violation in China today.

“I know about the record of Bo Xilai in violating the rights of Falun Gong, Falun Dafa. It’s not for me to comment on internal Chinese politics but as someone who believes in freedom of religion and human rights, I’m hopeful that new leadership will be much more respectful of these universal human rights,” said Kenney during the interview on March 30.

The CCP is just months away from the 2012 National Congress, which will be held sometime this fall. At the congress, which takes place every five years, the party selects senior cadres for key positions, with Hu Jintao set to be replaced as the party leader by Xi Jinping.

“We would support, of course, government or leaders in any country that wants to do more to respect freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and human rights generally. We would certainly be hopeful that there are positive developments in that direction,” said Kenney.

“This is not about imposing western or Canadian values on China. This is about the natural right of people born in every country, including China, to have freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. And for any government to suggest that economic growth requires stability, which requires repressing religious minorities, makes no sense,” he added.

“This is why our government is creating the office for religious freedom that will put a particular emphasis on promoting freedom of religion and freedom of conscience as a key pillar of Canadian foreign policy. And as the Prime Minister said when he was in China, this includes speaking up for the rights of Falun Gong and Falun Dafa practitioners.”