Saturday, May 05, 2007

Comments to a Friend on Canada's Approach to Relations with the PRC

It is becoming more and more apparent that the Chinese authorities are not prepared to reverse their determination that Mr. Celil is not a Canadian. So Mr. MacKay's principled demand for consular access while in Beijng was not likely to yield the desired result. At this stage, I think we should try and finesse the issue by requesting "informal access" to Mr. Celil on the basis that he has his immediate family in Canada and because of the high level of concern about Mr. Celil among Canadians. I wish that it would have been possible for Mr. MacKay to have discussed this with officials at higher levels in the Party than FM Yang Jiechi and State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan. Our message may not be getting through to the people who really count in the Chinese system. Mr. MacKay could have requested this on the basis of his capacity as a senior member of Canada's ruling Party, not simply as our FM. I think that our Embassy's strategy of focusing on the Chinese Foreign Ministry rather than seeking influence where the power really lies in China has contributed to this problem. Our Embassy in Washington reaches out to Congress directly not just the US State Department. We should have a comparable strategy in Beijing.

The Team Canada approach was not sustained once the Canadian PM cleared Chinese air space a couple of days later.

Canada lacks influence in China because we do not have ongoing engagement with the people at the senior levels of the Communist Party who hold the real power in the PRC.

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