Thursday, January 31, 2008

News Item: "Psychologists treat China's stranded at rail stations"

Thu Jan 31, 4:55 AM ET

Railway passengers stranded by snow in east China's Zhejiang province are receiving counseling from psychologists in the crowded station waiting hall, state media said on Thursday.

Snow, sleet and ice blanketing much of central, eastern and southern China have killed dozens, cut power and hobbled transport ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts on Wednesday, leaving millions stranded at railway stations.

The municipal government of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, had set up a team of 16 psychologists to provide "crisis intervention counseling to anxious travelers" waiting to go home, Xinhua news agency said.

"Weariness and anxiety could lead to the malfunction of people's immune system and result in psychological problems," Zhao Guoqiu, a psychologist who heads the team, was quoted as saying.

"It is very necessary to provide psychological help to the stranded who are always under great pressure."

He told passengers it was useless to cry and instead encouraged them to turn to other means of transport to get home. "Listening, smiles and patience are all effective measures to calm them."

Chen Wendou, a passenger heading for central Hubei province, said she was greatly relieved after talking with Zhao.

"After several nights waiting in the cold waiting hall, I was at the verge of collapse," he was quoted as saying.;_ylt=ArADXnlalttlPGxbLshcXEqGWo14

Comment: Reports are that there are 800,000 people trapped at the Railway Station and bus stations in Guangzhou alone. I have received 2 e-mails over the past couple of days from people who have been caught in the bedlam in Guangzhou. Chinese New Year is often the only time that young migrant workers get to visit their families left back home in their native place all year. There are millions of children in rural villages anticipating the Festival and seeing their absent parents who work in cities.

Kim Jong-il's Meeting with Head of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's International Liaison Department

N.Korea's Kim says will stick to disarmament deal
By Chris Buckley Wed Jan 30, 10:00 PM ET
North Korea is committed to a nuclear disarmament pact and disagreements stalling its progress can be overcome, reclusive leader Kim Jong-il told a Chinese official, Chinese state media said on Thursday.
Moving to denuclearize North Korea, whose October 2006 nuclear test alarmed the United States and its regional allies South Korea and Japan, is a priority for U.S. President George W. Bush in his last year in office.
Kim met the head of the Chinese Communist Party's international liaison department, Wang Jiarui, on Wednesday and received a message from Chinese President Hu Jintao, Xinhua news agency said.

Comment: I am not so much interested in what Mr. Kim said as in who the Chinese authorities sent to speak with him. Seems from this report that the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee is an important player for China in high level foreign policy

The full report can be found at

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Project Proposal:: "Cross-national Comparison of Canada's China Policy and Recommendations for Future Policy and Programming"

The goals of Canada's foreign policy with China are to promote Canada's prosperity through trade and investment and the intake of high-quality Chinese immigrants. And to encourage China to fulfil its multilateral treaty obligations to the UN, WTO and other transnational bodies in areas of security, human rights, environment, intellectual property rights and myriad other aspects. All of Canada's federal political parties are in accord that these define Canada's national interest in China.

Over the past decade there have been increasing indications that Canada's China policy has been falling short. Canada's share of China's import market has been declining relative to other nations such as Australia, the UK, France and the United States. In some years our imports to China have declined in absolute terms. While high commodity prices have improved our trade statistics, Canada has not been selling greater volumes of raw materials into China. But our trade deficit with China has grown at a very high rate. Year by year, the Canadian economy becomes more and more dependent on Chinese inputs, including investment in Canada, and Canada is affected by China's very large foreign currency reserves including major holdings in U.S. dollars. At the same time numbers of Chinese citizens applying to enter Canada have been declining. There is also dissatisfaction with China's implementation of international obligations to free trade and market access, intellectual property protection, the environment, and China's commitment to uphold the principles of the International Declaration on Human Rights and associated UN Covenants, most of which the Chinese Government has ratified.

A reasonable hypothesis to explain Canada's relative foreign policy failings with regard to China could be that as China has been transforming rapidly in all aspects of economy and society that Canada's approach to China has been relatively stagnant and so our China programming less and less relevant to Chinese conditions and less and less effective in fulfilling Canada's interest in China. For that reason it would be worthwhile doing a comparative study of Australia, the UK, France and the United States' China policy to see how Canada's China policy fares against that of nations with similar interests in China.

More specifically examining Canada-China bilateral relations as structured by DFAIT into functional areas, the following research issues can be raised:
Political and Economic Relations: Is Canada's policy of rotating diplomats across regions and across areas of speciality working at cross purposes to Canada's need to have sophisticated Canada-specific political and economic analyses at the disposal of Government? Is Canada's political engagement with China on human rights able to be effective? Can Canada be as effective as other nations who encourage specialization and a career pattern that would alternate between the China desk at home and Mandarin-speaking postings abroad?
Trade: Do our trade commissioners have the resources and expertise to fulfil their mandate? Is the Canada-China Business Council (currently headed by a former Canadian Minister of International Trade) able to adequately supplement the Embassy Trade Section? Should we be pursuing a free trade deal with China along the lines of Australia's?
Immigration: Is the process of application to travel to Canada perceived as less efficient and more humiliating than applications to other nations? Are the criteria for selection across categories leading to higher rejection rate than to other comparable countries? Can Canada address concerns of Chinese authorities with regard to refugee determination processes to allow for "Approved Destination Status" which would lead to massive increase in Chinese tourism to Canada?
Development: Presently Canada's bilateral development program is overseen by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and is limited to two areas; human rights, good governance and democratic development; and environmental sustainability. The Government of Canada plans to set up a Canadian Institute for Democracy in 2009 that, according to the report on Democratic Development tabled by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in June of last year, will encourage more people-to-people (via Canadian NGOs) contact. Is the CIDA program in China effective?
Culture: Does Canada's educational cultural and public affairs programming in China serve Canadian interests effectively?

The objective of this study is to provide policy advice on how to effectively realize Canada's interests in Canada's relations with China. The methodology would be first of all to survey existing literature on Canada's foreign policy to China and compare with Australia, the UK, France and the United States' China policy. This literature is rather weak, so I would use the same methodology as for my earlier report on human rights programming,which would be to meet with stakeholders in the Chinese Communist Party and Government as well as with senior diplomats of the embassies in Beijing of the nations being examined. Then to meet with stakeholders and senior government and opposition party people in Ottawa.

Basd on my earlier report's reception, I anticipate that this report would be influential in Canada and abroad.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Liberal Party China Policy Press Release

From: "Liberal Media/Medias liberaux" a>
To: "Liberal Media/Medias liberaux" .c
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 2:04 PM

For Immediate Release January 16, 2008

Chinese Ambassador Confirms Strained Canada-China Relationship

OTTAWA- Chinese Ambassador Lu Shumin's recent comments expressing concern about Canada-China relations illustrate how strained they have become under the Conservative government, Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae said today.

"China's ambassador to Canada was recently publicly quoted as saying 'any more undermining of our decades-old relationship will not serve Canada or China'," said Mr. Rae. "This unusually candid language for a diplomat should make it abundantly clear that, despite assurances from the Conservative government that things are fine, relations between our two countries have become dangerously strained."

Mr. Rae was referring to last Thursday's remarks by Mr. Lu Shumin at a meeting of the Ottawa chapter of the Canada-China Friendship Society. The ambassador commented that the Chinese people's deteriorating opinion of Canada is "not good news" and suggested that, "we may not see eye to eye but we can make tremendous progress by both respecting each other."

Mr. Rae explained these comments come after two years of diplomatic missteps and the consistent use of aggressive and undiplomatic language by the Prime Minister and members of the Conservative cabinet.

"From the initial snubbing of China's ambassador by former Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter McKay to undiplomatic comments from the Prime Minister and his ministers on China, this government's handling of China-Canada relations have been amateurish and have put domestic media sound bites ahead of constructive and effective diplomacy," said Mr. Rae.

"Reports of disagreements within the Conservative cabinet about its China policy and the reluctance of several of Mr. Harper's ministers to pursue closer ties have delivered precisely the wrong message to the Chinese government."

Bryon Wilfert, Liberal Associate Foreign Affairs Critic, said the previous Liberal government understood the importance of the Canada-China relationship and that constructive engagement with the government of China is the best way to promote Canadian values and trade.

"The previous Liberal government strengthened our partnership with China through numerous personal meetings and high level delegations," said Mr. Wilfert. "We formed the Canada-China Joint Committee on Human Rights (CCJCR) as a forum for promoting Canada's commitment to human rights in China and later the Canada-China Strategic Working Group (CCSWG) to further trade and diplomatic cooperation between our two countries.

"It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Harper has cancelled the successful Team Canada Trade missions to China, failed to engage in the previously annual meetings of the CCJCR since coming to power two years ago and backed away from the CCSWG."

Mr. Rae explained that both Canadians and Chinese are paying the price for the Conservative government's incompetence on the China file.

"Whether it is the Conservative government's inability the negotiate an agreement to allow Chinese tour groups to come to Canada or the erosion of Canada's traditional active and constructive role in working with the Chinese government to expand their adoption of human rights, the Conservative government's mishandling of this relationship is tragic,"
said Mr. Rae. "The Harper government's lack of nuance in its approach to China is dangerous and diminishes Canada's ability to deal with important issues like trade and international human rights."



Liberal Party of Canada Press Office Elizabeth Whiting

Office of Hon. Bryon Wilfert

My Comment: I am unclear of the basis for the Ambassador's statement about "
the Chinese people's deteriorating opinion of Canada", but I agree with him emphatically that ""we may not see eye to eye but we can make tremendous progress by both respecting each other."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Comment on Mr. Emerson's Speech to the Canada-China Business Council

This morning the Globe and Mail has an article by about the speech by David Emerson, Canadian Minister of International Trade to the Canada-China Trade Council on January 10. It is entitled: "Emerson opts not to 'lecture' on rights to Chinese." "The Globe's Beijing correspondent, Geoff York, writes: "A year after pledging to carry "Canadian values" to China, a senior federal cabinet minister says he omitted any mention of human rights from his latest speech in Beijing because he didn't want to 'lecture' his audience" (

It will be interesting to see if this return to "quiet diplomacy" with China on human rights is rewarded by granting Canada "Approved Destination Status" which would allow Chinese tourists to visit Canada, or by the release of Huseyin Celil.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lack of Explanation for Why the Latest Issue of Newsweek Is Barred from Distribution in China

Jonathan Ansfield writes:

The year-end edition of Newsweek, a China cover entitled "China Now", includes a Fareed Zakaria think piece on the "superpower's" fragile side, excerpts from The China Diary of George H.W. Bush, and a personal history by Beijing bureau chief Melinda Liu spanning her three decades covering the country. In the international edition, there's also a short profile positing what (if anything) the liberal legacy of Party elder Xi Zhongxun might or might not say about his son Xi Jinping, now China's presumptive leader-in-waiting.

Something inside the magazine - it's not clear what - has offended Beijing. The China National Publications Import & Export Corporation (CNPIEC), which normally distributes the international edition to authorized newsstands catering to foreigners - five-star hotels, Friendship stores - has not released the current issue for sale. Copies of the magazine did reach subscribers. But due to its "sensitive contents" CNPIEC held up the rest on orders from the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), according to what a member of the sales and marketing department at CNPIEC told a program director at CCTV, who tipped off this reporter.


It's not uncommon, of course, for official gatekeepers of imported titles to shut out individual issues over an off-putting piece. When this reporter contacted the CNPIEC sales department (6506-1315) to try to confirm the director's info, the woman who answered was gruff and felt no need to elaborate. "If it's not there, it's not there," she said. "I have no explanation to offer you." She questioned whether the contents of the magazine could be read on the Web in China. As usual, they could. "Well, if it's on the Web, isn't that good enough'" Click.

Full text of this article available at:

Comment by me: What I find interesting is not so much the banning of a western news magazine. This is nothing unusual in China. But I do find the embarrassed response of the censor when asked for clarification intriguing. In the past one typically got a vigorously defiant answer denouncing hostile Western forces promulgating "anti-China" (fan hua) "slander." Seems that the Newsweek issue has been banned for revealing some truth or other that the authorities find too threatening to ignore, but which they dare not denounce explicitly. The régime's new attitude of defensiveness in the face of criticism indicates internal weakness. This is worrying and could be a harbinger of bad times ahead.
I seem to be picking up on something of a pattern here.