Thursday, September 14, 2017

Burton Opinion Piece in the Globe and Mail: "When will China drop Pyongyang and act like a leader?"

"North Korea and China actually share the same endgame: Get the U.S. to abandon its defence of South Korea. Beijing would love nothing more than to see the withdrawal of American troops from regional bases in Korea and Japan. While Pyongyang wants to achieve that through threats of nuclear apocalypse, everyone else – including China – knows that the only realistic path forward to a new, more desirable era is through political change in Pyongyang.

For nearly 30 years, attempts to engage with North Korea have failed miserably; talks are simply a delaying tactic for Pyongyang. The UN of course has a responsibility to protect Korean people trapped in this nightmare regime, but needs full collaboration from China and Russia to make this happen."

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Burton: Chrystia Freeland's disquieting silence around trade talks with China

As Canadians digest a stream of statements and punditry around the upcoming NAFTA negotiations, another discourse — possibly more consequential for our future — is being planned in comparative silence.

My Opinion piece in Toronto Star: Canada must join allies to solve North Korean crisis

It is time for our government to state clearly that Canada condemns China’s continued sly backing of its atrocious North Korean ally.

China is obstructing the deeply held aspirations of Korean people to reunite their broken country, and rebuild a peaceful, prosperous and democratic nation on the Korean peninsula.

Sixty-seven years ago Canada made a military commitment to defend South Korea against North Korean and Chinese military aggression, at a loss of more than 500 Canadian lives. Whether Canada really is back in international diplomacy now, and is prepared to again stand firm against a much greater threat from North Korea backed by China today, remains to be seen.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China open letter to Chrystia Freeland re: Liu Xia

加拿大關注中國人權聯盟 (The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China)* 發公開信要求加拿大外交部長 Chrystia Freeland,透過更緊密與加拿大盟友合作,帶領全球還劉霞自由運動,並且主動邀請劉霞來加拿大居住。
The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China* has sent an open letter to Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, to urge her to work closely with allies to lead a concerted global campaign to win Liu Xia freedom. Moreover, to demand Canadian government to demonstrate strong global human rights leadership by continuing to press for Liu Xia's unconditional freedom and by offering her safe haven through an invitation to come and live in Canada.
*The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China is made up of 15 Canadian organizations dedicated to ensuring there is strong attention to human rights in Canada's relationship in China. The 15 organizations include:
Amnesty International Canada (English & Francophone Branches), ARC International, Canada-Hong Kong Link, Canada Tibet Committee, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Labour Congress, Falun Dafa Association of Canada, Federation for a Democratic China, Movement for Democracy in China (Calgary), PEN Canada, Students for a Free Tibet Canada, Toronto Association for Democracy in China, the Uyghur Canadian Society and the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement in China.
Full Text of the Open Letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland:
August 2, 2017
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Dear Minister,
We write this Open Letter to you as members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China,1 urging that the Canadian government and you personally continue make determined efforts to seek the unconditional release of LIU Xia, the widow of LIU Xiaobo, who is currently under house arrest in China.
We have very much welcomed your clear support of LIU Xia following her husband’s tragic death; and urge you to go further and work closely with allies to lead a concerted global campaign to win her freedom. Doing so would send a powerful message to China that Canada and others in the international community do not and will not tolerate the ongoing persecution and repression she has endured.
As you know, LIU Xia has been kept in house arrest and isolation since October 2010. As a result, she has suffered from psychological stress, anxiety and depression. The latest we have heard is that she has been forcibly sent away from her home. Her crime? She refused to stay silent and desist from trying to secure the release of her wrongfully-imprisoned husband, while he was still alive.
On July 13, 2017, after LIU Xiaobo’s death in custody, the first Nobel Peace Laureate to die in state custody since Nazi Germany, you tweeted:
Terribly sad that this champion of human rights has died. We mourn his loss but his message of hope and freedom will endure. #LIUXiaobo
And again on July 16, 2017, you tweeted to the world and spoke out for his widow LIU Xia on behalf of all Canadians:
“Canada continues to call on the Chinese govt to release #LIUXia and offer her safe passage out of China, according to her wishes. #LIUXiaobo
Artist, poet and human rights defender LIU Xia was placed under house arrest by the Chinese authorities after it was announced that her late husband LIU Xiaobo was to receive the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. She has faced heavy surveillance and harassment; treatment that continues today even after her husband’s death.
At this time it is crucial that Chinese authorities hear a clear message from the international community insisting that LIU Xia’s punishment end and that she be allowed safe passage out of China according to her wishes; as you have urged.
As such, we look to Canada, working alongside other concerned nations, to demonstrate strong global human rights leadership by continuing to press for Liu Xia’s unconditional freedom and by offering her safe haven through an invitation to come and live in Canada. We have no doubt that many in the Chinese-Canadian and human rights communities would enthusiastically provide sponsorship and whatever support is required in bringing her here.
LIU Xiaobo leaves behind a powerful legacy that will inspire the world to continue the struggle for human rights. A particularly meaningful and personal tribute to him will be to ensure that LIU Xia, his widow, is free to do the same.
Minister, we hope that you will continue to raise this urgent human rights case with Chinese counterparts at every opportunity, that you will encourage Prime Minister Trudeau to do similarly and that you will actively forge a partnership with other governments so that Chinese authorities clearly understand that this demand comes from many within the international community.
With leadership and determined diplomacy we are confident that we can indeed succeed to “Free Liu Xia.”
Alex Neve
Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
On behalf of the Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China

Friday, July 07, 2017

Engaging China Poses Potential Risk to Canada's National Security: Charles Burton for Inside Policy (Macdonald-Laurier Institute)

"Closer ties with China carries worrisome implications for Canada’s national security, writes Charles Burton. The asymmetrical nature of the relationship suggests that China may leverage economic incentives to further its geopolitical regime goals.

This piece is part of The China Debates series for Inside Policy, with commissioned articles from leading world experts exploring different elements of China’s rise as a great power."

My Opinion Piece in the Globe and Mail: "Hong Kong, and the litany of Beijing’s betrayal"

"China nixed any notions about universal suffrage in Hong Kong, instead introducing pro-Party curriculum in schools, intimidating independent media and illegally relocating several Hong Kong residents deemed hostile to the Beijing regime to the mainland. This betrayal has been met with public outrage and massive protests in the streets, including one in 2014 that occupied some districts of downtown Hong Kong for three months.

More and more young Hong Kongers are now demanding genuine autonomy, if not outright independence, from China, renouncing their Mandarin-based Chinese-ness in favour of a localized Cantonese Hong Kong identity. When some of this new generation were recently democratically elected to the local legislature, China’s No. 3 state leader Zhang Dejiang warned that Hong Kong must be governed by “patriots who sincerely support China’s sovereignty.”

Politically, things are volatile and dangerously uncertain in Hong Kong, and it matters a lot to Canada. There are 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, and half a million Canadians of Hong Kong origin reside in Canada. That’s a strong Canadian connection for a place with just seven million residents."

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

"Power and Influence: The hard edge of China's soft power" Australian TV documentary

PROF. JOHN FITZGERALD: Well every government of course has an interest in promoting itself abroad to extending its soft power.
I guess what's different about China is the way in which its run through these clandestine operations.
It's just not out there and open.
Secondly, it's really not out to win an argument, it's out to silence dissent and other countries generally don't operate that way.
They expect to win an argument on its strengths, not to silence all opposition.
The way the Chinese Government or Party through the United Front Department and the Overseas Chinese Bureau operates is effectively to control and silence dissent.

.  .  .

PROF. RORY MEDCALF: There's an awareness of a problem, but the agencies themselves don't have the mandate or the wherewithal to manage the problem.
All they can do is sound the alarm and alert the political class.
The political class needs to take a set of decisions in the interest of Australian sovereignty, in the interest of Australia's independence policy making, to restrict and limit foreign influence in Australian decision making.
CHRIS UHLMANN: After being briefed on the Four Corners-Fairfax investigation, the Attorney General sent us a statement revealing the Prime Minister has asked him to conduct a major inquiry into Australia's espionage and foreign interference laws.
Senator Brandis said, "the threat of political interference by foreign intelligence services is a problem of the highest order and it is getting worse."

Monday, June 05, 2017

My Opinion Piece in the Globe and Mail this Morning: "Free-trade talks with China: Proceed with caution"

Canada must not be placed in a position whereby proactively speaking out for and defending human rights in China comes at an economic cost to Canada imposed by China, once our economies are integrated through a binding free-trade treaty. Other countries with high economic dependence on China now tread very softly on concerns about Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong, cyberespionage, arbitrary arrests of lawyers and political dissidents and the growing practice of Chinese security forces and policy to operate ever more boldly in foreign jurisdictions, including Canada.

It is also critical that Ottawa demonstrate it will scrutinize all Chinese state investment in Canada, to ensure that our economic integration with China is strictly based on trade and investment reciprocity.