Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Op-Ed in Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun and other papers "A study in presidential contrasts"

Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong-il, both of whom died last weekend, personified an extreme contrast in leadership styles. Each man oversaw a nation's response to the dashing of the hope for human dignity and justice that the Marxist-Leninist paradigm once offered. But the ways each went about it could not have been more different.

A study in presidential contrasts

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chinese President Heading to Pyongyang for Funeral

@adriennemong: S Korean media reporting no foreign delegates attending Kim Jong-il's funeral BUT Chinese President Hu Jintao will be going.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An ex-ambassador in Beijing: Master of ping-ping diplomacy | The Economist

An ex-ambassador in Beijing: Master of ping-ping diplomacy | The Economist

"We have never seen in world history, with Nazi Germany perhaps to one side, a global economic power that has stood so far apart from the international norms of social and political organisation, so it's something different. It really, really is different," Mr Raby said.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Canada Marks Human Rights Day

Canada Marks Human Rights Day

Canada Marks Human Rights Day

(No. 365 - December 9, 2011 - 11:30 a.m. ET) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement on the occasion of Human Rights Day:

“2011 was a landmark year for human rights, we saw hundreds of thousands of people step forward in the face of violent repression to claim their rights.

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where basic human rights are not always upheld. Innocent people are continually persecuted for their sexual orientation, their political affiliation and their religious beliefs. Human rights defenders are punished and tortured for working to create a world where the rights of all people, including women and girls, are protected and enjoyed.

“We are too often witness to violations of the right to freedom of religion. The history of humanity has proven that religious freedom and democratic freedom are inseparable. One of Canada’s key priorities, therefore, is to establish an Office of Religious Freedom. We announced our intention to do so in the Speech from the Throne on June 3, 2011, and I repeated that commitment at the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2011.

“Canada will continue to work tirelessly to promote human rights around the world. On December 10 we both mark this important day and recommit ourselves to working toward freedom, democracy and human rights for all people.”

Friday, December 02, 2011

Baird to review Rights and Democracy mandate | Canada | News | London Free Press

Baird to review Rights and Democracy mandate | Canada | News | London Free Press

The feds want to revisit the role of the troubled Rights and Democracy agency and boost its democracy-building efforts overseas, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Thursday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unverifed Claims of Xi Jinping's Canadian Connections (Chinese text)

据国内媒体报道:习近平的姐姐是加拿大人,弟弟是澳 大利亚人,而女儿即将成为美国人。 习近平前妻柯玲玲,是中国外 交官柯华小女儿,结婚三年后离婚,两人没有孩子。柯玲玲现居于英 国。妻子彭丽媛是着名军旅女高音歌唱家,现任解放军总政治部歌舞 团团长。1986年底经赖昌星朋友介绍与习近平相识,1987年 9月1日两人在厦门结婚。女儿习明泽,生于1992年,曾经在杭 州外国语学校读书,2008年汶川大地震时以志愿者的身份前往四 川绵竹的汉旺东汽小学,参与抢救伤者、心理辅导的工作。同年保送 浙江大学,2009年7月,习明泽进入浙江大学外国语学院,20 10年5月前往美国哈佛大学读本科。姐姐齐桥桥(习桥桥)为北京 中民信房地产开发有限公司董事长,姐夫邓家贵为远为房地产开发有 限公司法人代表。他们目前已获加拿大籍。

这份习近平家人的路线图并不全面,还有更多亲戚朋友 生活在美国、加拿大与澳大利亚,但仅仅从这个可以看出,他的很多 近亲与家人都生活在海外,据中办一位老同志透露,这和习近平无关 ,他们兄弟姐妹平时来往不多,他们也从来没有沾习近平的光,都是 靠自己的实力与人脉。他们在国内有这么好的条件,为什么都纷纷出国?而且有些已经拿了国外护照?

这位老同志透露了一段秘密,原来这事与习近平的父亲习 仲勋有关,习仲勋在毛时代被折磨得神经失常是假,其实他一直很清 醒,装疯卖傻只是为了保护自己的家人不受株连。习仲勋后来被平反 后,被委以重任,而他主管广东,和广东华人华侨接触比较多,从他 们那里才真正了解到西方的真实生活,尤其是政治状态与政治制度, 这是习仲勋政治思想转变的关键。从那时起他就要求子女们有机会的 时候都“远走高飞”,他说,报效祖国也可以到国外去,但留在国内 ,说不定就会某一天受到政治迫害,更不用说报效祖国了。但他要求 子女中留一个搞政治的,而且希望是那个最淳朴没有心机的习近平, 他说,在中国这种政治下,别以为有心机就能够成功,张春桥、江青 有心机吧,灭亡得更快。习仲勋自己一直对当局与毛泽东直言不讳, 在政治上从来不参与迫害人,表现得毫无心机,虽然受到了迫害,但 属于最终笑到最后的人。

习仲勋要求子女远离中国,符合他的思想。子女在他的影 响下,一有机会就出国了,唯独习近平留在了国内,但可能是受父亲 影响,习近平也把独生女儿送到哈佛大学读书。据哈佛大学一位叫david的老师向博讯记者透露,习近平的女儿有中国大陆派来的保 镖24小时保护,美国联邦调查局最近也加派人手暗中保护她。一般 来说在校学生无法申请绿卡,但习近平女儿已经有美国的长期驻留签 证,而且随时可以申请加入美国国籍。习近平女儿的成绩不错,空闲 时也上网阅读中文网页,业余爱好是时装与阅读。

Friday, November 18, 2011

Obama puts China on notice with more muscular Asia policy

Obama said that the U.S. wanted a world "where every nation plays by the rules, where workers' rights are respected, and our businesses can compete on a level playing field; where the intellectual property and new technologies that fuel innovation are protected; and where currencies are market driven so no nation has an unfair advantage."

"Every nation will chart its own course," Obama said. "Yet it is also true that certain rights are universal; among them, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders."

BBC News - US body to probe China telecom firms on security threat

"The US House intelligence committee said the investigation would look into whether the expansion of these firms in the US posed a security threat.
The committee has named Huawei and ZTE as two of the companies that it is probing."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CTV News - Tory foreign policy review looks east to China

CTV News - Tory foreign policy review looks east to China

The document points out the obvious need to bolster trade with Asia, and China in particular, sources say. China's fast growing economy has an insatiable need for natural resources to power growth. But that has raised red flags because Chinese investors are state-owned entities, not private companies. Foreign Affairs experts are working to draft a definitive document on the implications of doing business with state-owned enterprises from China, sources say.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Obama to China: Behave like a 'grown up' economy - Business - Mail & Guardian Online

"China shot back that it refused to abide by international economic rules that it had no part in writing.

"First we have to know whose rules we are talking about," Pang Sen, a deputy director-general at China's Foreign Ministry said.

"If the rules are made collectively through agreement and China is a part of it, then China will abide by them. If rules are decided by one or even several countries, China does not have the obligation to abide by that."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No evidence Dechert compromised national security - CTV News

"CTV News has learned the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have found no evidence Dechert compromised national security as a result of his relationship with Shi Rong, a reporter with the Xinhua News Agency in Toronto.

Senior CSIS and RCMP officers confirmed to CTV that the Chinese news agency functions as an intelligence arm of China."

Read more:

Friday, September 30, 2011

U.S. Justice Department probing Chinese accounting - Yahoo! News

"Shares of some Chinese companies listed in the United States fell on Thursday after Khuzami's statements became public.
Among them, Focus Media dived 18 percent, Inc closed 4.7 percent lower, Baidu Inc fell 9.2 percent, China Sky One Medical Inc declined 3.8 percent and Sina Corp ended down 9.7 percent.
The SEC has struggled to gain access to documents it needs in the investigation because strict Chinese laws have made auditors reluctant to turn them over."

Print Story: Exclusive: Justice Department probing Chinese accounting - Yahoo! News

Taiwan professor accused of spying for China - Yahoo! News

"Chinese officials offered him lucrative fortunetelling contracts in exchange for spying on the Taiwan activities of selected Chinese. None of the alleged targets were named."

Taiwan professor accused of spying for China - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

U.S. ambassador to Beijing admired, reviled - Post Bulletin

U.S. ambassador to Beijing admired, reviled

"This is a county where invective still rules. In the absence of a civil society, there still is a strong tradition of not so much attacking the logical flaws of your opponent but attacking his personality or his very person."

U.S. ambassador to Beijing admired, reviled - Post Bulletin

Tallying the Toll of U.S.-China Trade -

Fascinating study: "Many Americans believe low-priced Chinese imports kill U.S. factory jobs. Most economists say the benefits of the trade far outweigh its costs. But new research suggests the damage to the U.S. has been deeper than these economists have supposed."

Tallying the Toll of U.S.-China Trade -

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Launch of “The China Challenge: Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century” | Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

Book Launch of “The China Challenge: Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

APF Canada will host the Vancouver book launch of “The China Challenge: Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century” on October 20, 2011. The book is edited by Huhua Cao and Senator Vivienne Poy. The book also launches on October 13 at the University of Ottawa; on October 18 at York University; and on October 19 at the University of Toronto.

Book Launch of “The China Challenge: Sino-Canadian Relations in the 21st Century” | Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

Monday, September 19, 2011

No evidence Dechert compromised national security - CTV News

"Senior CSIS and RCMP officers confirmed to CTV that the Chinese news agency functions as an intelligence arm of China.

Officials say Rong was on their radar, but the Chinese news agency is involved in a different type of espionage than spying on political figures."

"One senior security officer told CTV News that Dechert displayed a 'colossal lack of judgment. He was incredibly stupid to get involved with her.'"

No evidence Dechert compromised national security - CTV News

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | The Current | "China Spies" (including interview with me)

China Spies
"The buzz among the security-savy is that China's state News Agency, Xinhua is routinely used to gather intelligence and that China itself is ravenous for global intelligence on the political, military and industrial front. That is why so many questions linger in the exchange of emails and apparent friendship between MP Bob Dechert, a parliamentary secretary in the foreign affairs dept and a woman posted here in Canada by Xinhua. Today we ask about the vulnerability of our officials and the history of female spies: Infiltration through Flirtation."

-- Shared with Google Share Button

Bill Schiller: Chinese security spies often placed in newsrooms around the world blog

"Typically, the aspiring correspondents attended the University of International Relations in Beijing or another similar university in Nanjing, "where they learned to master a foreign language and how to do intelligence work," the journalist said.

They would then work abroad for a set number of years, "and then disappear," he said. "You wouldn't see them again."

How many agents the State Security Ministry actually appoints depends on the rank and importance of the media outlet. There are several major media outlets that maintain correspondents abroad.

"With a powerful, high ranking media outlet, the Ministry of State Security might say, 'You have 20 positions? Maybe we can send five.' ""

-- Shared with Google Share Button

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tory MP apologizes for 'flirtatious' e-mails to Chinese reporter - The Globe and Mail

@acoyne: Of all the people he could have a year-long "flirtation" with, he picks a bureau chief for the Chinese state news agency? #shimail

From The Globe and Mail:

Tory MP apologizes for 'flirtatious' e-mails to Chinese reporter

Via The Globe and Mail news app for BlackBerry

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feature on Allen Chan in National Post this a.m. quite revealing on PRC connection

National Post this morning has a feature on the founder of Sino-Forest, Allen Chan:
"His deep-rooted China connections have been vital to his forestry businesses on the mainland. A member of a top advisory committee to China's parliament for heavily forested Jiangxi province, he's also a vice-president of the China National Forestry Industry Federation."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

U.S. ambassador in wikileaked cable reported Canadian diplomatic trips to China accomplished little

In the latest tranche of Wikileaks of US diplomatic cables there is one from the US Embassy in Ottawa commenting on the lack of "deliverables" from visits to China in 2007 by David Emerson and Jim Flaherty. This cable was reported in the Globe and Mail on Thursday in Mark MacKinnon's report "Canadian diplomatic trips to China accomplished little, U.S. ambassador says" ( The original cable can be read at 

My judgement is that the issues with regard to senior-level Canadian officials visits to China raised in the US cable remain unchanged 4 years on.

Thinking about it, it this really indicates how one-sided the Canada-China relationship has become over the last 20 years. On these visits our senior cabinet ministers play the role of enhancing the prestige of CCP leaders by appearing on the Chinese news sitting on over stuffed chairs depicted as listening supplicantly to yet another stupefyingly wordy "comprehensive briefing" by a Chinese leader. Our diplomats in China struggle to come up with go-through-the-motions hollow announcements for the visiting minister to complement the courtesy calls and tours and banquets these things devolve in to.

On the other hand, over this time, China has made so many inroads into Canada that serve the interests of the Communist Party's regime very well. But Canada gets no progress on substance such as fairer access to the Chinese market, human rights concerns or concerns about Chinese espionage in Canada in return. Canada is floundering in China due to our lack of expertise and resources there.

And this suits the Chinese Communist Government just fine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

John Baird's Interview with Xinhua News Agency

John Baird's Interview with Xinhua News Agency

"Canada links future with China"
By : Xinhua|Updated: 2011-08-15


"Recognizing that strong economic and trade complementarity exists
between Canada and China, both countries agree that practical
cooperation should be enhanced to promote increased bilateral trade
and investment, and create new science and technology partnerships
that will lead to jobs, prosperity and economic opportunities for
Canadians and Chinese alike, he said.
"Measures taken include the launch of an economic complementarity
study, the negotiation of a Foreign Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreement (FIPA) and the establishment of joint working
groups on cleantech, infrastructure, and energy under the Joint
Economic and Trade Committee and Strategic Working Group," he said,
"We hope that these measures will far exceed all of our expectations
for bilateral trade between our countries."
People-to-people ties
Baird attached great importance to people-to-people ties."

New Canadian Sanctions on DPRK

New Canadian Sanctions on DPRK: http://www​.internati​
and statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs: http://www​.internati​/media/aff​/news-comm​uniques/20​11/231.asp​x

Friday, August 12, 2011

China may be worst protectionist ever: U.S. analyst

Bergsten estimated the China's renminbi, also known as the yuan, is currently undervalued by at least 20 percent against the U.S. dollar as a result of China's currency intervention.

That "is the equivalent of a subsidy of 20 percent on all China's exports and an additional tariff of 20 percent on all China's imports," Bergsten said.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are Chinese Spies in Canada Getting an Easy Ride?

"Are Chinese Spies Getting An Easy Ride?"   While the US has prosecuted dozens of alleged spies in recent years, Canada can't or won't—nab a single spook. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Op-Ed on Lai Changxing matter in Monday`s Globe and Mail

"Farewell, Mr. Lai!"

See also: Postmedia news report by Jeff Davis "Canada not pressured into extraditing Chinese fugitive: Baird"

The Chinese TV news covered Mr. Lai's return live from Beijing Airport.  There has been literally hours of reporting and commentary on it.  The level of interest in the Lai matter in China is much higher than I had previously imagined.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Almost Certain Lai Changxing Will Be Returned to China Possibily as Soon as Saturday

When asked earlier in the day if his client had any legal options left if the Federal Court ruled against him, lawyer David Matas simply told The Globe and Mail: "No."

"Federal court rules against Lai Changxing"

Poll: Does Canada have a moral duty to pressure China to improve its human rights record?

Poll: Does Canada have a moral duty to pressure China to improve its
human rights record?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Visiting a Buddhist Temple in Yunnan

Visited the Wenfeng Temple in Lijiang County a few days ago.  It features several photos of Karmapa (Ogyen Trinley Dorje ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗེ།) including a very large one outside the main gate.  The temple was pretty much devoid of visitors, very peaceful and beautiful and in quite good repair.  The monks seemed delighted to meet my son, Geoffrey and his 4 year-old girl cousin and took turns holding them very tenderly.  The younger monks are enthusiastic basketball players.  I managed to make it up to the top of the mountain where there is a meditation hall, a sacred cave with spring, the cells where the nuns live and a spectacular view including of a golf course in the valley below.

It was an afternoon that will always rest in my memory.

Embassy Mag Reports My Views on Way Forward for Canada's Engagement with China on Human Rights

"Charles Burton, associate professor of political science at Brock
University who is a former diplomat in Beijing and has written books
on the Middle Kingdom, says the key to moving forward might be for Mr.
Baird to become familiar with the changing situation in China. At that
point, he may adjust Canada's foreign policy to become engaged in
trying to support the agents of change in the country-as opposed to
trying to convince the Chinese Communist Party leadership that
democracy and human rights are simply a good thing. This will involve
more of what Mr. Baird referred to as "people-to-people" ties, rather
than government-to-government."

"China strategy needed to confront human rights":

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Canada's Integrated and Balanced China Policy

The Globe and Mail has published an article on the intentions of Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs's engagement with the Government of China this week.  It reports as follows:

"It's critical for our success going forward as a country, economically, to engage with one of the world's most important and fastest growing economies," said a senior government official on Sunday. "That can't be understated. But it's not at the expense of Canadian values and principles."
The federal official said Canada is looking to strengthen commercial, educational and technological ties with China, and that as part of these discussions, Canada will continue to press China to "implement and adhere to internationally recognized human-rights practices."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

DFAIT Reaffirms that Canada Will Not Change Approach to China on Human Rights (English)

"We have  frank and open discussions with China with respect to human rights as part of the mature bilateral relation that we have with this emerging superpower," Baird's spokesman said. "This government hasn't shied away from standing up for our principled position on human rights and foreign policy generally, and I don't think you'll see that change."

DFAIT Reaffirms that Canada Will Not Change Approach to China on Human Rights (Sorry I Only Have It in Chinese)

加拿大外交部长约翰•贝尔德(John Baird)将于7月16日至20日对中国进行访问,这是贝尔德今年5月当选联邦外交部长后的首次出访。联邦外交部官员在外长出访前称,加拿大对于中国的人权状况依然非常关注,将会继续向中方施压,将继续与中方进行坦诚且富有成效的对话。

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interesting Chinese Government Media Report on Corrupt Officials Abroad

"According to a report published by the People's Bank of China in
June, the number of runaway corrupt officials – mainly supervisors and
managers from government departments, enterprises and institutions –
has reached 16,000, resulting in the transfer of 800 billion yuan
($119 billion) in assets to other countries or regions.
The report was allegedly retracted later by the central bank from its website.
Since 2007, at least 580 fugitives accused of illegal fundraising,
bank fraud, illegal transfer of funds abroad and contract fraud have
gone on the run in other countries, mostly in North America and
Southeast Asia, with Canada often cited as a haven for corrupt Chinese
officials and fugitives, the Ministry of Public Security revealed late
last year."

"Smuggler Lai Changxing nears extradition"

Minister Baird to Visit China and Indonesia

(No. A/46 - July 12, 2011) John Baird, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, will be travelling to China from July 16 to 20, 2011, for a bilateral visit, and to Bali, Indonesia from July 21 to 24, to attend the 44th ASEAN Ministerial Conference. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lai Changxing may be returned to China on July 25

High-profile fugitive Lai Changxing has been arrested by Canadian Border Services agents and now faces possible deportation later this month to face smuggling and corruption charges in China.

He was taken into custody late last week, after Immigration Canada - following more than four years of deliberation - determined that Mr. Lai does not face a serious risk of torture from Chinese authorities.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Politics in China's Exam System

I highly recommend this report by Eric Fish in the Asia Times:
" Politics in China's Exam System"

North Korea Becomes UN Champion for Disarmament (!!)

Minister Baird Expresses Disappointment over North Korea's Chairmanship of UN Conference on Disarmament

(No. 186 - June 30, 2011 - 11 a.m. ET) John Baird, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, today issued the following statement regarding North Korea's appointment to the chair of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament:
"North Korea is simply not a credible chair of a disarmament body.
"The fact that it gets a turn chairing a United Nations committee focused on disarmament is unacceptable, given the North Korean regime's efforts in the exact opposite direction.
"We call on North Korea to pass the chair on to a credible country that will advance the disarmament agenda within the UN. Canada will be immediately reviewing our participation in this committee's activities.
"North Korea should also open its facilities to international inspections.
"In October 2010, Canada announced the adoption of a controlled engagement policy toward North Korea and the imposition of additional economic sanctions against the regime under the Special Economic Measures Act. These measures followed a commitment made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper after the sinking of the South Korean naval vesselCheonan, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors.
"Canada will continue to take strong and principled positions in support of the fundamental Canadian values of democracy, human rights and justice."
- 30 -

Monday, June 27, 2011

Munk Debate on China

Munk Debate on China 

On June 17th, 2011, the Aurea Foundation held the seventh semi-annual Munk Debate in Toronto. The participants debated the question "Does the 21st century belong to China?" Historian and author Niall Fergusson and David Daokui Li from Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management in Beijing argued for the resolution. Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977, and Fareed Zakaria, CNN Host and Editor-at-Large of TIME Magazine, spoke against the resolution.

China and the West Spy Games

Interesting article about new program at Fudan University, my alma mater.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

PM's Statement on Foreign Policy in a Speech Last Friday night

Prime Minister Harper said: "Power is shifting. New forces are coming to the fore.  Some we will be pleased to work with. Some we must resist. In such a world, strength is not an option; it is a vital necessity. Moral ambiguity, moral equivalence are not options, they are dangerous illusions."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Comment on News Report about Disappeared Associates of Ai Weiwei

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson has said that Ai Weiwei's detention has "nothing to do with human rights". In that case I do wonder: what or who is the source of this doubtful claim of "nothing to do with human rights" that the Chinese MFA has been directed to pass along to the world?

Related to this is Andrew Potter's article "Who is afraid of the Chinese government?" that was published on Friday, May 20, 2011:

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Appearance on TV Panel on Implications of Population Aging in China

I participated in a panel on “Revisiting China’s One-Child Policy” broadcast on the Business News Network program “Headline” on May 19, 2011.  Part One can be viewed here:  Part Two can be viewed here:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Internal Factors in the Decline of the Popularity of the Liberal Party of Canada

The dramatic decline in popular support of the Liberal Party of Canada in the recent election was not anticipated by most observers.  But in the end only 18.9% of voters supported the Liberals.  Taking into account that some of those 18.9% voted to support an incumbent that had served them well in the past, it seems likely that the core support for the Liberals may have dropped as low as 15% on May 2.  

I am not convinced by the explanations that I have been reading in the commentary sections of the popular press that attribute the reduction of the Liberal Party to just 34 seats in the House of Commons to external factors.  These include: First of all, the effectiveness of the Conservative Party attack ads against Michael Ignatieff which questioned Ignatieff's commitment to Canada.  Secondly the "unexpected" rise of support for the NDP attributed to the collapse of the Bloc Quebecois that reduced numbers for the Liberals.  And finally, the painstaking work of Jason Kenney in gaining Conservative support by "the ethnic vote" which tipped the balance away from the Liberals in ridings in the Greater Toronto Area.   

The other explanation, mostly coming from embittered Liberals, has been to blame the ineffectiveness of the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff.  But the assertion in an Op-Ed in the Toronto Star published May 5 that the "Liberal defeat had one cause: Michael Ignatieff" suggesting that things would have gone much better had Bob Rae been in charge does not convince me either.  Many claim that did not listen to the advice of seasoned Liberal insiders on political strategy before and during the election.  While this accusation may be well-based, I don’t find this an adequate explanation.

In my line of work as a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Brock University, I watch a lot of CPAC including broadcasts of Question Period in the House of Commmons.  So I put in a lot of hours observing Michael Ignatieff's public statements in Parliament and at other events more of less daily since he became Leader of the Official Opposition in December 2008 ‘til he resigned earlier this month.  On the face of it, Ignatieff was the kind of leader that I should have regarded as ideally suited to the position.  He is very well-connected in London and Washington, a professor human rights at Harvard and author of a series of well-regarded books many on international affairs.  One would have expected that he would have been a charismatic, articulate and insightful person of substance.   But I agree with the characterization of Ignatieff by Tim Armstrong in that Op-Ed in the Toronto Star published May 5 that "his constant stridency in question period (when he was there) and in parliamentary debates was ineffective. On his bus forays across the country, he came across as professorial, condescending and insincere in asserting that he welcomed the opportunity to listen to — as opposed to lecture — Canadians."   I took exception to his approach to his mode of responding to hostile questions from the press in the course of the election campaign.  The image on the TV was of Ignatieff flanked by an assortment of Liberal candidates.  At any challenging question he would smirk and produce an insincere tittering laugh chorused by the assembled entourage.  It suggested am arrogant pettiness that rubbed me and I imagine other voters very wrong.

In general the Liberals didn't take being Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition seriously.  They offered little in the way of innovative political alternatives.  One felt that the Party leadership regarded program details as unimportant.  That could be sorted out later.  Main thing was that Canada should be governed by the Liberal Party elite.  Government was their entitlement.

The decline of the Liberal Party of Canada does seem to follow the same sort of pattern that led to the decline of other once-great and solid Canadian institutions.  For example only a few years ago Canada was the country of Eaton's, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada "Red Tories," and Bell Canada.  These were all supremely confident organizations with a strong sense of their own traditions and history, blithely unaware that they were becoming increasingly irrelevant in the face of changing modern conditions.  

When it finallly became apparent that they were heading into difficulty they were too arrogantly set in their ways to effectively respond and up to the end were in denial that their institution once so vibrant "modern" and at the forefront of national life was about to crash, never to rise again.

The same process appears to be being repeated by the once dominant Liberal Party of Canada.

Anyway all things in life have a beginning, a middle and an end.  It is time for Canadian politics to look forward, not back.

My Take on Mr. Baird's Appointment and the Reinvigoration of Canadian Foreign Policy

The appointment of John Baird to Minister of Foreign Affairs suggests that under a stable majority, the Government of Canada will be able to put renewed emphasis on promoting Canada's prosperity through trade and on realizing Canada's security interests in international relations.

Mr. Baird in his previous ministries has demonstrated a strong commitment to implementation of the Prime Minister's agenda.  He is a strong leader who is not afraid to take strong action when necessary to ensure that the Government's purposes are fully realized in the programming of the departments under his administration.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been a problematic ministry for the Harper Government due to long association of its senior civil servants with Liberal Party elitism through Liberal Party associated think tanks and other agencies.  This has been particularly true in the case of the North Asian Relations Division.

But the function of the professional civil servants in Foreign Affairs is to implement the foreign policy agenda of the elected government, not attempt to subvert this agenda.  This would include the new Office of Religious Freedom for which the Prime Minister clearly intends a central role in Canada's foreign affairs, immigration, and developmental aid programming.

Under Mr. Baird one can expect to see a rigorous approach to ensuring that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will genuinely represent the interests of Canada abroad as these interests are understood and articulated by the Government of Canada elected by Canadians on May 2.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Academic Exchanges and Foreign Embassy-Sponsored Activities in China Being Curtailed

"At least 60 activities organized by the United States Embassy in Beijing -- including cultural forums, school programs, ambassadorial visits -- were canceled between February and April because of interference by the Chinese authorities, and some European missions have been similarly pressured. Several university conferences involving foreigners have been canceled, and the Ministry of Education is stepping up warnings to Chinese scholars heading abroad that they not take part in "anti-China" activities or engage with groups that promote democracy."

Shared via RockMelt

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some Thoughts on Implications of the Ai Weiwei Case

I am very concerned that while China signed the ICCPR in 1998, China is more and more flaunting the provisions of Article 14 and other articles with regard to citizens' entitlement to due process of law. Recently, there are more and more reports of people who support freedom of conscience and political democracy being incarcerated through arbitrary process by agents of the Chinese security apparatus without involvement of the police or judiciary. While we all question the validity of wide application of laws against "threats against state security," now Chinese people are being "disappeared" for political reasons without any charge being laid at all..

For example Ai Weiwei was taken away by persons unknown, evidently not police, and some days later we are told by the Foreign Ministry that he is being held in an undisclosed location while being investigated on suspicion of tax evasion and bigamy.  One would expect a process of 1. investigation by the procuracy;  2. charges laid; 3. arrest; 4. open trial (as tax evasion and bigamy do not fall into matters of state security that would call for a closed trial).  

Ai Weiwei is of course a high profile case, but there are dozens and dozens of reports of people similarly disappearing, most of them "human rights defender" lawyers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beijing officials 'laughed off' Australian concerns over human rights |

Confidential briefings provided by Australian diplomats to their American counterparts reveal that Australia's human rights dialogue with China has been characterised by persistent Chinese denials of rights abuses and ''boilerplate'' responses to concerns raised by Australia.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

PM Proposes New Office Of Religious Freedom To Promote Religious Freedom Around The World

Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will create an Office of Religious Freedom to ensure that defending persecuted religious minorities is a priority of Canada's foreign policy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Michael Ignatieff Supports Office for Religious Freedom Proposal

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters in Toronto the office is "the kind of thing that ought to have the support of all sides in politics," before referring to many of the aforementioned groups that have a presence in Canada.
"When you see in Egypt peaceful members of the Coptic community being attacked," he said, "when you see Baha'is being persecuted in Iran, when you see Jews being persecuted, when you see Christians unable to practice their religion freely in China, I think all Canadians believe in the importance of both defending religious freedom at home, but also defending religious freedom abroad."

Tragic Death of Liu Qian

I do feel so deeply sorry about this.  My heart goes out to Professor Liu Jianhui of the Central Party School and to all Ms. Liu's family,  And to all my friends in China who have children studying abroad who worry enough about them being so far from home already and now this.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Editorial in Globe and Mail on Canada's China Policy

"Along with trade, the Canadian government should negotiate for independent legal representation of Canadians who get into legal trouble and consular access to them. Similarly, there should be an extradition treaty between Canada and China that embodies liberal principles of due process and human rights. Such arrangements could well have a wider good influence in China, beyond cases involving Canadians."

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Farewell speech by outgoing US ambassador Jon Huntsman in Shanghai

"Today's leaders may struggle with the legacy of outdated ideologies or past differences, but the next generation in both countries will carry with them a profoundly more global outlook."

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

My take on Ai Weiwei

To me Ai Weiwei represents best of the "salt of the earth" type of northern Chinese --- scrupulously honest, unpretentious, very warm, open, humorous and sincerely identifies with the common man.

PBS 17 minute long documentary "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei?":

"Hurricane" - A song not sung by Bob Dylan at his show in Beijing yesterday

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

US Envoy Defends Detained Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei

"SHANGHAI (AFP) – US ambassador Jon Huntsman Wednesday defended detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei for challenging Beijing to better serve the people, in his final public speech before a possible presidential bid.

Huntsman also urged the Chinese government not to use the Internet to create distrust and warned misperceptions in the United States and China threaten to lead to policies that could undermine their relationship."

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Monday, April 04, 2011

My Take On MinMetals Hostile Takeover of Equinox

This bid is for a Canadian company that controls mines outside of Canada. It offers shareholders a significant premium over the current listed share price. I am at a loss as to any legitimate basis for Industry Canada to block this takeover.

Development in Wu Yuren Case

@KPinChina: Breaking News: Wu Yuren Released on Parole April 3rd, Still Pending Sentence: via @addthis

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Ai Weiwei in custody and studio raided by Chinese police

Mr. Ai is well known in China due to his designing of the Olympic Bird's Nest Stadium. He is the son of prominent 20th century literary figure, Ai Qing. Presently Ai Weiwei has a favourably reviewed exhibit at the Tate Gallery.

His arrest can be seen as a milestone in the Chinese authorities' suppression of dissent due to Mr. Ai's prominence and very good reputation among most Chinese people in China.

Insightful article about Mr. Ai in New York Times:

Very powerful video statement by Mr. Ai:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

U.S. firms frustrated by increasing Chinese red tape

"The number-one challenge that our members listed this year is bureaucracy," Ted Dean, AmCham's chairman in China, told reporters at a briefing. "Members are saying that licensing procedures have become more difficult."

China Denies Google's Claims That They're Blocking Gmail

Wish they had the courage to be honest about what they do. Seems they deny it because they are ashamed.

"Unsurprisingly, China Denies Google's Claims That They're Blocking Gmail"

NYT: China Tightens Electronic Censorship

This really is chilling and truly Orwellian:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: UK-China Human Rights Dialogue an empty ritual?


UK-China Human Rights Dialogue an empty ritual?Human Rights Groups call on Foreign Secretary to take a more robust approach for tangible outcomes
"Denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability," David Cameron
[1 March, London] 
Thirteen human rights organisations and groups have issued a joint Statement on the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue that calls attention to deep-seated concerns held on the Dialogue process and urges the British government to review ways in which the Dialogue can meaningfully make progress.

Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, one of the 13 signatories to the statement, commented, "Despite world focus being on Libya and the Middle East, it must not be forgotten that China's human rights record, adherence to internationally accepted human rights norms and its upholding of the rule of law do not bear scrutiny. T
he Foreign Secretary has issued very robust statements on Libya and, previously, on the people's actions in Egypt. When in Kuwait, the Prime Minister also reiterated the British government's commitment to upholding the values of right to peaceful protest, in freedom of speech and the Internet, in freedom of assembly and the rule of law. It is to be hoped that David Cameron's assertion that, 'As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse. But these are not just our values, but the entitlement of people everywhere; of people in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square' (1), presages greater openness and meaningful intent in seeking freedoms and rights for those suffering suppression in China, Xinjiang and Tibet."

A statement on the process of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue from Human Rights groups working in the UK to the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

March 2011

On January 13-14, 2011, the UK government held its 19th round of annual UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in the UK. As specialists in human rights, China, Tibet and Xinjiang, we are concerned that these annual dialogues have become an all-too familiar and empty ritual that ultimately are not resulting in positive change on the ground. Worse, they can even be counter-productive in that they allow the Chinese government to claim an “achievement” on human rights when in fact no progress has been made. We support engagement with China, but believe that it is time for a new and more robust approach together with other dialogue partners based on achieving real, short-term goals. We outline some recommendations in this statement. 

After a generation of economic development and numerous rounds of similar human rights dialogues with countries including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, as well as with the EU, the human rights situation in China and Tibet has actually deteriorated. This is not a new conclusion; as far back as November, 2000, the cross-party Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, briefed by some of the signatories of this letter, said there had been a “serious deterioration” in the human rights situation in China in the past two years since the UK government began its dialogue in 1998. This lack of progress has been noted by the FCO who, in 2008, acknowledged to the Foreign Affairs Committee that: “China has made little progress towards greater respect for human rights in 2008” (Clause 177,

Since then and despite millions of pounds of assistance to promote ‘rule of law’ in China, the Chinese government has engaged in a systematic attack on the rule of law and civil society, has developed the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship system, has intensified religious  repression particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang, and characterises two prominent Nobel Peace Prize winners, the Dalai Lama and Liu Xiaobo, as “criminals”.

The need to address this is urgent because human rights underpin almost all of the issues that the UK and other governments face with China today.
Our recommendations are as follows:

•    The UK-China human rights dialogue should be transparent; maintaining opacity has enabled the Chinese authorities to misrepresent the process and to undermine essential follow-up of discussions that took place behind closed doors. The dialogue should involve participation with expert NGOs and representatives from civil society and, ideally, also with representatives of the Tibetan and Uyghur communities in exile. When the dialogue is taking place in the UK, the UK should set and share specific benchmarks for what would constitute progress, and both substance of the dialogue and benchmarks should be specific and publicly known. Following the dialogue, UK officials should offer to do interviews via the UK-based media outlets with Chinese-language services, and arrange for their remarks to be translated and circulated inside China, this would help to prevent the Chinese government’s attempts to prevent its citizens from knowing what the UK says about human rights.

•    Each round of dialogue should be based on realistic and tangible short-term goals. For example, these could include  the release of specific prisoners; the agreement on a date for further dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and the Chinese authorities; progress towards the repeal of dangerously ambiguous ‘state secrets’ and ‘subversion’ laws; the lifting of restrictions on weiquan (rights protection) lawyers. Discussions to further progress should be continued outside the context of the official meetings.

•    UK HMG Dialogues with China have done nothing to significantly improve the Chinese people’s access to justice or the establishment of an independent judicial system. Programmes to assist ‘rule of law’ reforms and to facilitate exchanges of ‘legal experts’ should be designed to address specific structural, administrative and legal problems in China that lead to human rights abuses. Legal programmes would be best directed towards addressing problems such as widespread torture, strengthening protection for defence lawyers who face disbarment when defending political cases and lack of due process. There should be a geographical spread incorporating Tibetan and Uyghur areas when allocating funding for legal training, with a particular emphasis on empowering lawyers in these ‘minority’ areas. Attention should be paid to the need to make lawyers’ associations fully independent, insulated from interference by Party officials, security officials, and the Ministry of Justice, and repealing aspects of annual bar registration for lawyers which allow judicial system authorities to put pressure on and arbitrarily retaliate against lawyers for political and other reasons.

•    Dialogue topics should not focus only on abuses of social and economic rights but should assert the importance of addressing violations of civil and political rights. Exchanges on specific prisoners should not be sidelined to the margins of the discussion but affirmed as part of the main agenda and information shared with multilateral partners, particularly the EU. Follow-up based on specific, up-to-date information is critical. The UN Human Rights Council should be used to advance human rights principles and thematic issues.

•    Civil society in China, Xinjiang and Tibet should be supported both diplomatically and financially. UK Ministers and senior staff should take every opportunity to meet human rights defenders, lawyers, writers and others who are taking personal risks to promote human rights and the rule of law. Private dialogue should always be accompanied by strong and clear public statements in support of these individuals. Engagement between Tibetan, Uyghur and Chinese scholars and representatives from civil society on key issues such as autonomy and governance should be facilitated and encouraged where possible, for instance in round-table discussions.

•    The issue of human rights should not be an addendum or after-thought. Prior to any formal engagement with Chinese leaders, a public statement setting the tone of the encounter and referring to the importance of human rights should be made. Human rights must not be allowed to be ‘ring-fenced’ to only be publicly raised within the official bilateral dialogue framework. Rather, rights issues should be integrated into the agendas of the full wide array of bilateral engagements. Issues such as tainted powdered milk and lead-painted toys should give rise to voicing concerns about the denial of a free, investigative press in China as much as they do about implications to standards of trade and commerce.
•    Each round of dialogue should be followed with an open discussion of impact and progress towards bench-marked practical goals. Dialogue should be resumed only if mechanisms are put into place that build upon these areas and if some measurable progress appears to have been made. Decision-making needs to be set within the context of a longer-term strategy to tackle the issues at stake and not based on consequences that could be perceived to risk progress in the short-term, for instance a suspension of the dialogue from the Chinese side.

•    Given the UK’s unique historic connection with Tibet, we welcome the UK government’s affirmation of the importance of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. We are disappointed that the Prime Minister did not raise the coalition government’s position on this issue strongly during his visit to China on 8-11 November 2010, particularly in the light of his earlier discussions directly with the Dalai Lama on May 21, 2008 ( We recommend that strong statements on this matter are made at the highest levels at every opportunity and not just within the context of the human rights dialogue; and that these statements are reiterated in public both inside China when the occasion arises and elsewhere.

•    We welcome the UK’s strong position on not lifting the EU arms embargo on China and encourage UK officials to urge its EU partners to follow the same approach.

We would like to conclude by citing the findings of the Foreign Affairs Committee report in 2008, which stated: “We conclude that there remains little evidence that the British Government’s policy of constructive dialogue with China has led to any significant improvements in the human rights situation. We recommend that the Government sets benchmarks and specific targets for making progress in this dialogue; these should take account of but not be restricted to the time-specific commitments given by China itself during its Universal Periodic Review process.”

Tibet Society, Philippa Carrick, CEO
International Campaign for Tibet, Kate Saunders
Chinese Solidarity Campaign, Dr. Stephen NG
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
English PEN, Gillian Slovo, President
English PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Salil Tripathi, Chair
Federation for Democratic China (UK), Lucy Jin
Free Tibet, Stephanie Brigden, Director
Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, Asia Advocacy Director
Shao Jiang, Independent, (participant of Tiananmen Square protest in 1989)
Students for a Free Tibet UK, Liam Allmark, Political Lobbying Co-ordinator
Tibetan Community in Britain, Pempa Lobsang, Chair
Tibetan Youth UK, Karma Chura-tsang, Director
Uighur UK Association, Enver Tohti Bugda