Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Burton and Byers: Resetting Canada’s Approach to China

Resetting Canada’s Approach to ChinaA measured and principled strategy will benefit everyone


A measured and principled approach to China is ultimately of the greatest sustained benefit first to Canada, then to Canada’s likeminded allies and ultimately to China itself. With a new political configuration in Ottawa, the pursuit of a remade Canada-China relationship is of the utmost importance to Canada’s future as a free, democratic and prosperous nation. Naiveté about China’s global intentions can no longer be our excuse.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Burton: Trudeau government at a crossroads in its dealings with China

Burton: Trudeau government at a crossroads in its dealings with China


The new Trudeau government’s approach to China’s Communist Party regime is rife with dilemma. Support the business and political interests of the Laurentian élite, who are entwined in and conflicted by a Beijing engagement approach that eschews established norms of trade and diplomacy? Or adhere to Canadian middle-class values that make Canada the harmonious and tolerant society it is: decency, fairness, reciprocity, honesty, openness?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Burton - The turmoil in Hong Kong is a bittersweet moment in its history


"With the battle cry of “restore Hong Kong’s glory, the revolution of our times,” the continuing protests are a quixotic Cantonese cri de coeur, from a Chinese city that yearns to stave off its creeping and almost certain full subordination to the Mandarin dictates of the Chinese Communist Party.

This is a bittersweet moment in the history of Hong Kong. The emotional furor may just fade away or it could end horribly in violence. In Canada, meanwhile, our government’s milquetoast response to these events is yet another expression of our shameful loss of national vitality in international affairs."

Friday, August 16, 2019


OTTAWA, ON (August 16, 2019): The federal election is a little over two months away, and its outcome remains highly uncertain. Irrespective of whichever political party wins, the new government faces the challenging work of remaking Canada-China relations, which has reached an all-time low following China’s hostage diplomacy and use of economic coercion in response to the arrest by Canadian authorities of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

In the latest entry in MLI’s “A Mandate for Canada” series, Senior Fellow Charles Burton makes the case for a measured, principled, and forward-looking China strategy.

Titled Remaking Canada's China strategy: A new direction that puts Canadian interests first, the paper details the shortcomings of the country’s past approach to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), outlining the need for a new strategy that better serves Canada’s national interests and is more complementary to that of our key allies.

Over the past more than 25 years, both Liberal and Conservative governments have approached China based on an implied quid pro quo. As Burton notes, “If Canada showed ‘friendship’ to the PRC regime by acceding to demands allowing China to further its economic and geostrategic interests in Canada, then China would be amenable to Canadian approaches on social issues such as human rights.”

Underpinning this formulation has been Canadian political naiveté about the purposes and intentions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has persisted into the early years of Justin Trudeau’s government.

Yet it is not through political naiveté alone that Canada had pursued policies highly favourable to the CCP’s interests. Equally important has been the CCP’s United Front Work Department and its highly effective, decades-long program of Canadian élite capture.

According to Burton, “This rosy view of China relations has been supported by major Canadian business interests who benefit from lucrative interactions with Chinese Communist state commercial networks.”

It is these interests, as opposed to issues of national security or Canadian principles and values, that should be at the centre of Canada’s China policy. Fortunately, there are growing signs that this captured élite foreign policy consensus is beginning to fray.

“China’s very strong retaliatory measures to pressure Canada to release a senior member of the regime – Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, detained under a US extradition request – has shattered any illusions about any moral obligation the PRC feels in response to Canada’s many decades of asymmetrical acts of ‘friendship.’”

The author offers a new direction in Canada’s China strategy – one that takes into consideration the need to safeguard Canadian security, promote Canadian prosperity, and project Canadian values. Key elements of this new strategy include:

  • Cracking down on harassing, coercive, corrupt, and covert activities by agents of the Chinese state against anyone, regardless of citizenship, in Canada.
  • Rejecting PRC regime pressure for us to accept the Huawei bid to install 5G technology
  • Condemning police excesses in Hong Kong, calling for an independent inquiry on their excessive use of force, and stating clearly that any PAP (People's Armed Police) crackdown in Hong Kong would carry serious consequences.
  • Considering the use of Magnitsky Law against officials of the People’s Republic of China’s Communist Party (or officials from Hong Kong), especially if there is a crackdown in Hong Kong.
  • Ending government collaboration in United Front Work Department activities such as Parliamentary exchanges that attempt to establish a moral equivalence between liberal democratic institutions and the CCP’s puppet sham civil institutions.
  • Requiring transparency for media and educational institutions that receive PRC regime funding.
  • Condemning Chinese human rights abuses and concomitantly supporting agents of progressive change in China.

Canada needs to assert comprehensively its national interests in its China strategy, even if doing so will lead to pushback from the PRC and its supporters in Canada. As Burton concludes, “A measured and principled approach to China is ultimately of the greatest sustained benefit to Canada, Canada’s like-minded allies, and, indeed, ultimately to China itself.”


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Burton: Xi Jinping may want to rule the world, but he has problems at home, too

Perhaps Mr. Xi has done the world a favour by exposing the true nature of the Communist Party’s long-range intentions, but as American commentator Gordon Chang has observed, ultimately his is “a militant, one-person regime that feels surrounded and threatened.”

A “surrounded and threatened” China feeling under siege does not bode well for making a rational conciliatory response to Hong Kong’s unrest. It also does not bode well for the future of Canada-China relations or for global peace. China desperately needs to find a way out of its political conundrum before it’s too late – for all involved.


Monday, July 08, 2019

Lary and Burton: Exiled professor Jerome Ch’en taught students about his beloved homeland, China


Jerome Ch’en’s long life was shaped by the momentous historic events in China over the past century, and the insights he gained as a witness to those events informed his work as an eminent historian and author. Prof. Ch’en, who died last month, was one of the last survivors of a gifted generation of Chinese intellectuals who were born into a traditional society, came of age in warfare and either were exiled or remained in China to face persecution. They were steeped in both the Chinese and Western traditions. Prof. Ch’en’s deep knowledge of Chinese culture co-existed with his profound understanding of Western political and economic thought.