Thursday, February 04, 2010

Response to a Chinese Ph.D. Student's Query on Canada-China Relations

Question: What's your interpretation of the two "change"s in Stephen Harper China policy that were witnessed in his first and second governments respectively?

My answer: I think that most of the changes in policy in Canada-China relations have come from the Chinese side.  For example granting Approved Destination Status after turning down Chretien and Martin on this over many years.  Canada made no changes to its Refugee Policy nor to the independence of the Judiciary that keeps Mr. Lai Changxing away from Chinese justice in Vancouver.  There have also been concessions on the Chinese side on a wide range of other issues, although not on the Celil case yet.  My interpretation is that the Chinese Government realizing that the Harper Government would be in power for some years recognized that yearning for return of the weak past Liberal approach was counter-productive to Chinese interests in Canada.  For example the Chinese Government now respects that Canada will not engage in fruitless dialogue on human rights and no longer makes the pretence that this or shunning of the Dalai Lama is conditional for "good relations."  The demeaining rhetoric about "friendship" is less applied.  The key is effective maximization of each other's national interests.  For China this is access to Canadian natural resources and the Canadian market for Chinese goods.  In Canada's case it  is promotion of our prosperity through attracting talented Chinese immigrants to Canada and access to the Chinese market as well as effectively standing for democracy and rule of law in China and seeking to support people in China denied their fundamental entitlement to human rights.

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