Sunday, June 21, 2009

Comment on Chinese FM Visit to Ottawa

I am interested by the Canada-China Business Council's assertion that Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi is making a "sudden visit" to Canada and the CCBC's indication that the Government of China and not the Government of Canada has asked the CCBC to make arrangements for Mr. Yang in Canada:
"The Canadian business community has an unexpected but very welcome opportunity to stand behind our frequently-voiced and strongly-held beliefs that China is critical to our future. Following recent successful visits of Ministers Day and Cannon, China's Foreign Minister, YANG Jiechi, will make a sudden trip to Canada next week, and the Government of China has contacted us and requested an opportunity to connect with CCBC members over lunch on Tuesday, June 23, in Ottawa.
The foreign minister's invitation is a clear response to the business community's ongoing efforts and strong voice for renewal of the Canada-China relationship and the importance of close diplomatic relations at all levels to business success in China. The Canadian business community has this opportunity, despite very short notice, to demonstrate to the government of Canada and, of equal importance, to the government of China, our support for the efforts from both governments to accelerate a renewal of deep ties.
We are inviting the premiers who accompanied us on our visit to China last November, plus Canada's most senior political figures, and this letter is a call to action to Canada's most senior business leaders to be present and visible at this very important event. Our honorary chair, Mr. Andre Desmarais, will be present, and we expect excellent representation from Canada's senior executives.
We acknowledge that time is tight and schedules are busy, but please make every effort to attend this luncheon. It will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase your company's support for the re-energizing of the Canada-China relationship over the past few months."
An account of Mr. Yang's speech at the luncheon can be found here: and here: and here:

DFAIT's announcement of a photo opportunity with Mr. Cannon and Mr. Yang at 6:15pm on the 22nd prior to their scheduled bilateral meeting at the Pearson Building includes the observation:
"China is the world's fastest-growing major economy and is playing an increasingly important role on the global stage, making the Canada-China bilateral relationship more important than ever." I very much endorse this notion.

Nevertheless, Mr. Cannon has indicated that he is not willing to resume a government to government "bilateral human rights dialogue" with China as such. This could be causing tension with the Government of China as other nations may follow Canada's lead and refuse to participate in this format of engagement with the Chinese authorities on human rights. This would be on the basis that after more than 10 years of dialoguing this format of engagement has proven to be ineffective in promoting social justice in China. This is quite strongly supported by China's flat rejection (as articulated quite bluntly by the Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong) of most of the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council following the HRC review of China's human rights record earlier this year.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

David Shambaugh on Role of the Central Party School

In a recently published article David Shambaugh writes of the Central Party School as follows: "In additional to teaching courses in each of these subject areas and conducting their own research, the CPS faculty has long performed the important role as a think tank (zhineng ku 智能库) for the Central Committee and high Party organs."  Later on he refers to "the key role played by the CPS as the Party's primary think tank for generating new ideas and policies concerning political and ideological reform."  Shambaugh gives much detail on this point in the latter part of the article.

"Training China's Political Elite: The Party School System," The China Quarterly, 197, December 2008, pp. 827-844.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Two Extracts from Calgary Herald on Canadian Foreign Policy

"The Harper government has consistently argued that its foreign policy positions are driven by principle. On China, in particular, one Tory insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government’s criticism of Beijing has been driven by the personal convictions of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, rather than any political calculation.

A government spokeswoman echoed the argument that Harper’s policy is driven by political principles, not pandering.

'We make foreign policy decisions based on all Canadians’ interests, supporting our common values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law,' Catherine Loubier, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, wrote in an e-mailed statement.

. . .

The Harper government’s criticism of China on human rights, which has been toned down after ongoing objections from both big business and the Chinese-Canadian community, doesn’t qualify as an example of pandering, said the Tory insider.

He said Kenney has made clear to party members he has pushed an outspoken position based on personal principles even though many Chinese-Canadians, regardless of their views on communism, have resented the public criticism of their “mother country” — especially during the 2008 Olympics that Harper refused to attend."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Nancy Pelosi defends human rights advocacy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she strongly challenged Chinese leaders on human rights abuses during her trip to the country last week, pushing back on the notion that she has been less aggressive about the issue since she became speaker.

“We were very frank about human rights,” Pelosi told a Brookings Institution luncheon Friday afternoon. “They knew who they were meeting with.”

“There was no way that we would go to China and not talk about human rights,” she said.

Pelosi has come under criticism over reports that she ducked the human rights issue during her trip to China.

Full text at

Friday, June 05, 2009

Statement in the Canadian House of Commons on 1989 Tiananmen Square Protest

Mr. Scott Reid (Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events in Tiananmen Square. At the time, Canada took a strong, principled stand and unequivocally condemned the communist government's murderous crackdown on its own peaceful citizens.

For this, the government of the day was criticized by some who felt that standing up for human rights in China could jeopardize Canada's investment opportunities in that country.

In addition to the demonstrators, among the heroes of Tiananmen Square are the Chinese government officials, such as Zhao Ziyang, who sympathized with and supported the protestors at great risk to their own personal safety.

That is why, when the world learned of Zhao Ziyang's death in 2005, Canadians were once again proud to see our current Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism visit Zhao's family home to pay his personal respects. Once again, as with our principled stand in 1989, the Minister of Immigration was criticized by some who were concerned that this would damage Canada's commercial interests in China.

History can never be purged of the truth, and memory is more powerful than oppression. We hope that China will use the opportunity to examine the --

The Speaker:
The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The June 4th Anniversary and Canada-China Relations

My op-ed "Tiananmen: 20 years later, suppression still reigns" was published in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on June 4, 2009. It can be read at: or here. My original title for this piece is: "The June 4th Anniversary and Canada-China Relations"