Monday, November 27, 2006

Consensus on China Policy Forming

My website has links to the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China letter to Prime Minister Harper of October 6, 2006 which urges the Government to implement my report on the Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue and to the media reports on the Prime Minister's comments to the press that he made on the 'plane while heading to the APEC meeting in Vietnam.

Now senior Liberal Party policy advisor, Tom Axworthy has issued his The Four Key Questions: An Essay on Liberal Renewal ( It says: "We need a two-part strategy in dealing with China: first, people-to-people exchanges, scholarships, and business partnerships should be encouraged. As many Chinese citizens as possible should be exposed to a real democracy and to our thriving civil society. The peaceful transition of China from autocracy to democracy is one of the great potential 'what ifs' of world history, and anything Canada is able to do, in a modest way, to help this along, would be useful. Inviting large numbers of Chinese students, for example, to study our legal system – and especially the Charter of Rights – could have very beneficial impacts within China itself. So Canadians must work on developing friendships with the Chinese people. But the same does not apply to the Communist regime. The Communist regime abuses its own people at home, and supports autocracies abroad. There is no question that life in China has greatly improved in recent decades, and life today does not compare to the horrors of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. But, civil liberties are still not respected and the current regime has embarked on a severe crackdown on journalists, internet users, and dissidents. Many Canadian businessmen worry about raising human rights abuses, but they should also realize that there is no such thing as property rights in China. The state-owned business sector in China, far from being autonomous, still follows the dictates of the Party. The Communist regime cannot be isolated; it must be dealt with because it controls China. But it is also a mistake to treat it as if its dictatorial tendencies do not matter. The future of the regime will be decided within China. But any potential Chinese Gorbachevs should be able to use international legitimacy as one reason why the existing regime should reform. In particular, Canadian assets should not be allowed to be sold to state-owned Chinese companies. Security considerations should be added to the criteria of Investment Canada. Human rights should be raised in a forceful and regular way with the Communist leadership so that they know that such values are central to Canada and central to the relationship. Our strategy toward China should be – engage, but never kowtow."

Most recently, BDO Dunwoody has issued a CEO/Business Leader Poll by COMPAS published in The Financial Post on November 27 entitled "Human Rights in China: Harper's Public Diplomacy Outperforms Chretien's Quiet Diplomacy; Excellent for Human Rights, Neutral for Business" which can be accessed at

It appears that a national consensus on Canada's future China policy is forming.

No comments: