Monday, December 10, 2012

My Op-Ed in the Toronto Star "Stephen Harper’s decision on CNOOC finally gets the China connection right"

With greatly enhanced Chinese investment in Canada, one could easily see the pro-China business lobbyists and their think-tank pundits ever more active - and effective - in seeking to further the interests of the Chinese state in Canada. The national security implications of this could go far beyond the concerns that Dick Fadden, the CSIS director, has voiced in recent years about Canadian decision-makers being "under the influence of the Chinese state."

So hundreds of billions of Chinese yuan will not be coming to Canada in years ahead, as some had hoped would be the case. The Chinese government and the Canadian China lobby will not be happy about this. But in Canada's relations with the People's Republic of China, it is clearly better to be respected than loved.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

My Op-Ed "Stephen Harper’s new trade rules safeguard Canada’s interests"

If China was to follow up its Nexen acquisition with other large investments and become a significant player in Canada's economy, the consequences go far beyond simply which nation would benefit economically from Canada's resources.

Harper says Canada not for sale, as Conservatives approve CNOOC Nexen buy-out | The Vancouver Observer

"Given the scale of potential Chinese investment in Canada's natural resources, a major question that should be on many Canadians' minds is what percentage of ownership by the Chinese state is acceptable to Canadians in natural resources?"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New CCP Poliburo Standing C'tee Emerges

New Politburo Standing c'tee:  Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, Zhang Gaoli. No "reformers"

 Xinhua reports that Xi Jinping has taken control of the military commission.

The composition of new standing committee of the Chinese politburo that has just emerged this morning reflects the disappointing "stay the course" theme of outgoing Party General Secretary's Work Report at the opening of the 18th Congress.  There are no members among them identifying as in the kaiming (enlightened) faction represented by pro-Western reformers such as the leader of Guangdong Wang Yang.  It is hard to imagine that this groups will pay little more than lip service to addressing official corruption and to the pressing need to stimulate domestic demand to reduce difference between rich and poor.  Strong measures under strong charismatic leaders are needed to renew and refocus the Party to regain popular support.  This bland and largely undistinguished group appears to be the harbinger of a Brezhnev-like era in China with no meaningful reform of political and legal institutions or the winding down of the police state security apparatus.  Transferring Wang Qishan off the economic portfolio suggests that therer will be further reorientation of the economy toward  state enterprises and more Party direction of economic development.  Xi immediately displacing Hu Jintao as Chairman of the Central Military Commission further suggests the eclipse of the relatively liberal Youth League faction and a full consolidation of power by Jiang Zemin's Shanghai faction and the taizidang (Princeling faction).  Canadian was hoping for a younger more liberal more open group, but in Communist Party terms what we are getting are a more conservative and less open to the west group of younger leaders.  This does not bode well for China's future in general nor for improved Canada-China relations in specific.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Op-Ed in the Toronto Star "China's Communist rulers disappoint hopes for change"

My Op-Ed in the Toronto Star "China's Communist rulers disappoint hopes for change" - -

"What Chinese people really want is an end to China's police state repression, an end to censorship of political debate and the right to choose their leaders. It would be a win-win situation - and such a democratic, open China would also give Canada a lot less pause over Chinese state investment in Canada."

Friday, November 09, 2012

My Observation on the 18th Party Congress So Far

Xi Jinping is not likely to do for politics what Deng did for economics --- he seems more like a Brezhnev type. Despite recognizing the fact of stagnation and decline, the Party has chosen to pay only lip service to the need to address official corruption, the need to increase domestic demand to address the widening gap between rich and poor, and the need for more political legitimacy by allowing citizen participation and freedom of debate.  No effective measures to address these serious issues are being proposed.

 Any significant legal-political change would probably mean that many CCP leaders would not only lose their jobs, but also face prison for "corruption." They know what happened to the Soviet Union Communist Party under Gorbachev and other Communist Parties under reformers and so do not want to follow that path. 

The Stalinist system in the world only survives now in North Korea, Cuba, Laos and the PRC. In no country that abandoned its Stalinist system is there support for return to that system.

I feel that if Chinese people feel seriously let down by 18th Congress that the political situation in China could become dangerous.  I feel anxious at this prospect.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

CIC Google+ hangout on 18th Party Congress

We're looking forward to our Google+ Hangout with @cburton001, Jeremy Paltiel, Pitman Potter and Lynette Ong tomorow! #CCP18 (starts at noon Ottawa time 08NOV12)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Australia's National Plan for "Asia Century"

Regulations on Communist Officials and Government Employees Fleeing the Country Tweet from @GordonGChang

@GordonGChang: Sign that the end is near: China sets up "Command Group to Fight Against Communist Officials and Government Employees Fleeing the Country"

Report on need for clearer foreign investment rules Charles Burton (@cburton001) 与你分享了一条 Twitter 消息

Charles Burton (@cburton001) 在 7:13 AM on 星期一, 10月 29, 2012 发布的推文:
Canada’s hazy takeover rules hurt everyone /via @globeandmail

访问 下载官方 Twitter 应用

Tel: +1-905-228-2323
Fax: +1-209-231-4087
MSN, Yahoo, Google: cburton001
Skype: cburton002; QQ: 1323798084
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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Huawei in Canada-China Relations

On October 8, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the U.S. House of Representatives issued their "Investigative report on the U.S. National Security Issues posed by Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE." It was based on a study carried out over 11 months at the behest of Huawei, the world's second-biggest maker of routers, switches and associated telecommunications. Huawei hoped the Congressional study would dispel persistent but unproven allegations that it is a heavily subsidized front company of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

The Select Committee heard hearsay evidence of serious allegations of malfeasance by Huawei (which have been referred to the U.S. Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security), but it turned up nothing definitive - at least not in the unclassified part of the report.

However, because there was enough doubt that Huawei "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a threat to the United States and to our systems," Congress imposed severe restrictions on Huawei's future business activities in the U.S.

This compelling report is of high interest in Canada, where Huawei, through highly competitive bids, has won contracts to supply sophisticated data networking equipment to at least Bell, Telus, Sasktel and Wind.

Competitors claim that Huawei can offer below-market pricing in its network installations thanks to secret funding it gets from the Chinese Government. Regardless of whether that is true, the Select Committee's report suggests that buying Huawei could be a very false economy for Canada.

Some observers were quick to downplay any implications the U.S. report could have for Canada. Telecom analyst Iain Grant has been quoted as saying he is "not sure that the technical judgment of the U.S. Congress is a yardstick that Canadian companies need to consider when making technical decisions. Canadian companies assess the attraction of Huawei gear on its merits, on function, on delivery and timeliness, on quality of what is delivered and on price. Paranoia is not a measure they find germane."

But clearly there are bases for concern about any Huawei equipment processing massive quantities of Canadian data. Certainly, the Government of Canada has already indicated Huawei will be excluded from bidding on a new government digital, telephone, data and e-mail network, on the basis that it is "too dicey to be included in constructing the network."

Among the unproven allegations in the Congressional report is that Huawei routers are able to activate "back door" software that sends data to "an elite cyber-warfare unit within the PLA." Similar routines hidden in millions of line of code could enable China to remotely shut down any Huawei-installed networks for strategic reasons. As technology progresses, the ability to carry out targeted mining of the huge data quantities passing through Huawei-installed Canadian routers and switches, using sophisticated computer algorithms, becomes a greater cause for concern. Moreover, the equipment will require maintenance and "software updates", opening up the possibility of further opportunities for cyber-espionage.

It all comes down to a question of trust. If the Canadian telecommunications project had been prepared to pay more for the Swedish Ericsson or French Alcatel Lucent installations instead, there would be less cause for alarm.

According to the U.S. report, Huawei admits the Chinese Communist Party maintains a Party Committee within the company, but won't explain how the committee functions or even reveal which individuals compose the committee, on the grounds that this information is a Chinese state secret and Huawei could be prosecuted in China if they came clear on this point.

Furthermore, since only People's Republic of China nationals are permitted to own shares in Huawei by company policy, it stands to reason that Huawei's senior management (also citizens) could not ignore a Chinese Party-State order to facilitate cyber-intelligence gathering or "back door" network processes, if couched in Chinese national security terms. (And it would certainly be virtually impossible for buyers of Huawei networks to detect.)

Beyond a doubt, Beijing has shown a strong proclivity to engage in cyber espionage. After the German Chancellery and three ministries were penetrated by hackers, evidently from China, and infected with spyware, Chancellor Angela Merkel stood in public next to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and openly criticized his government for its attacks. Canadian government computers also suffered similar assaults just last year, causing considerable disruption to operations.

And what of private-sector customers of Canadian telecommunication companies that use Huawei equipment to carry their data? Should activists for Chinese human rights, or Canadian companies competing for business contracts in China, be concerned? Considering how unforthcoming and obscure Huawei was in its responses to the pertinent questions posed by the U.S. Congress, this is a valid concern.

Unfortunately it appears that, for Canada, it is already too late to second-guess our trust in the honesty and sincerity of this Chinese firm.

(An edited version of this text was published in Embassy on October 17.2012 under the title "Weighing Huawei in Canada")

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Comment on "Chinese Drywall Lawsuits at a Turning Point" -

Chinese Drywall Lawsuits at a Turning Point -

The report says:
"In the years before the economic crisis, hundreds of millions of square feet of Chinese drywall was exported to the United States. But soon after the drywall was installed homeowners noticed a sulfurous smell. In addition, appliances like televisions and microwaves inexplicably failed, and silver and copper items were covered with black soot."

Comment: One would have expected that making drywall with such extraordinary destructive powers able to disable TVs and home appliances would cost more to manufacture, not less.

Monday, October 08, 2012 News - China tech firms pose security risk, U.S. panel warns

"Huawei denies being financed to undertake research and development for the Chinese military, but the committee says it has received internal Huawei documentation from former employees showing the company provides special network services to an entity alleged to be an elite cyber-warfare unit within the People's Liberation Army."

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I am Speaking in Ottawa on October 17

I am speaking in Ottawa on October 17:  "Buying Canada: Strategic industries, state-owned enterprises and the national interest" | Canada 2020 -

Monday, October 01, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Text of Agreement Between Canada and China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments

Agreement Between Canada and China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments -  Full Text

This has been tabled in the Parliament of Canada.  It also has to be ratified by the Chinese National People's Congress before coming into effect.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bo's Expulsion is a Very Important Development

Bo Xilai's expulsion from the Party is very significant indeed. In contrast Deng Xiaoping retained his Party membership over 3 removals from office allowing for 3 comebacks to power. Bo will likely never be seen in public again.

It suggests that Bo will become the focus of a major Party-wide campaign. This has been the norm for high-profile people expelled from the Party in the past.  Expulsion of senior officials from the Party is a very serious and very rare political event. The fact that the Xinhua news release says Bo will be up for abuse of power and bribery suggests the possibility of very far reaching implications for others who are engaged in comparable corrupt practices.

So I take his expulsion as a promising development that could indicate that the 18th Party Congress may adopt meaningful reforms to bolster the Party's battered reputation with people in China and abroad.

Obviously it will infuriate many powerful people who will be exposed to serious charges. But the Party appears to be willing to risk instability instead of the continuing stagnation incurred by doing nothing meaningful and therefore suffering continuing corrosion of its legitimacy in the eyes of the people.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rough and ready translation by me of article in today's Ming Pao about CNOOC-Nexen Human Rights Concerns

A Call to Grasp the Opportunity of Chinese Capital Purchasing Canadian Energy Enterprises 
Group Urges Ottawa to Take Advantage and Push China to Improve Human Rights

(Ming Pao Report) The Chinese National Off-Shore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)'s intention to purchase the Canadian energy corporation, Nexen, is currently undergoing a political assessment process. "The Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China" more than a month ago send a letter to the Federal Minister of Industry who is responsible for this assessment process. It calls on him, in addition to examining the economic benefits, to make human rights policy one of the factors under consideration. But up to know the Coalition has received no response to this letter.

The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, which represents 15 organizations concerned about human rights in China sent this letter to the office of the Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis on August 16. The letter makes reference to Article 20 "Factors Influencing Investment Assessment" of the "Canada Investment Act" whose content expresses the Coalition's stance: "Human rights should be a factor strongly weighted in the foreign investment assessment process."

The Coalition encourages the Government of Canada to grasp the opportunity presented by the deep interest by China to invest in Canada's energy enterprises, to at this time demand that China improve its addressing of human rights issues that have emerged at every level of Chinese society. The letter also makes reference to reports exposing CNOOC's oil extraction operations in Burma which have not been approved by local residents and which have caused very great damage to local villages. Those villagers who have participated in opposition to the oil extraction have been arrested by the Burmese military and put on trial. [I am using "Burma" here, but there is no distinction in Chinese between "Burma" and "Myanmar." In pinyin the name of that country has consistently been "Miandian."]

This letter was sent simultaneously to the office of Prime Minister Harper. But after more than a month it has not elicited any response from the PMO either. The Coalition decided the day before yesterday to make the letter public.. It very rapidly received a reaction from Jason Kenney, the Minister of Immigration: "Our Government has very clearly expressed that Canada-China relations require balanced development, to carry forward our common interests, such as trade and business, as well as our values, such as the importance that we place on human rights."

Kenney made the above statement the day before yesterday at a press conference in response to a reporter's question. He indicated that he is assured that Harper for a long time has expressed the same opinion on issue of balanced development. According to information obtained by the "Toronto Star," Harper is the key person in making the final decision on whether this transaction will be approved or not.

The Chairman of one organization that is part of the "The Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China," "The Toronto Association for Support of the Democracy Movement in China," Guan Zhuo [Cheuk Kwan], yesterday indicated to this newspaper that Nexen has an excellent human rights record. It was one of the earliest Canadian companies to write a human rights policy. Therefore in assessing whether or not to sell it to the Chinese state-owned CNOOC, whether or not CNOOC has an excellent human rights record, and whether it can fully implement a human rights policy in future management of the enterprise should become a factor that is given significant weight in considerations.

Guan Zhuo indicated that he can understand that the Ministry of Industry will approach its assessment of this transaction from a commercial benefit perspective. But he believes that the Government should not only look at the money benefits. It should also include Canada's human rights values perspective in the assessment, "although the Chinese side has indicated that it will strictly respect Canadian law after it makes the purchase, but the Ambassador of China indicated the day before yesterday that human rights should not be brought into this commercial transaction." Therefore Guan Zhuo feels that in approving this transaction the Government of Canada must ensure that that a human rights policy will be very well implemented in future operations of Nexen.

The original Chinese report can be found here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New ambassador to China pledges frank dialogue on security, human rights

New ambassador to China pledges frank dialogue on security, human rights

"He'll have close links right to the top, both with me and the prime minister, senior leadership of the public service and business communities here in Canada," Baird told reporters in his office on Parliament Hill, where the two posed for a photo-op.
The minister called the posting "an important political and security position in that part of the world."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Thoughts on the Chinese Ambassador's Interview on Front Page of Today's Globe and Mail

The interview is entitled "Canada-China free-trade pact touted" (

My observation: After 18 years of negotiations to achieve a Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, the Chinese Ambassador now indicates that for Canada to obtain "guarantees that its companies will get greater access to investment and markets in China" that we now actually need to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement which "might take a few years, but less than a decade." Presumably in the meantime China intends to continue to widen its 4X trade disparity with Canada while interminable negotiations work to "address" Canada's concerns. And according to the Ambassador over this period Canada's concerns over allegations of widespread human rights abuse in China will also work themselves out through "improvement and development."

After 30 years of Chinese officials urging Western patience over trade and human rights concerns, this line of argument is starting to wear a bit thin. But clearly the Ambassador hopes to continue to play to Canadian naivete and gullibility for as long as it can be sustained.

Liberace-like the Chinese regime appears to be "laughing all the way to the bank."

An edited version of the above text appeared as letter to the Globe and Mail entitled "It's wearing thin" published on September 25:

I recommend this Editorial on Pitfalls of China Trade

@cburton001: Trade with caution Strong editorial in National Post on necessary measures to mitigate negative impacts of increasing trade with China

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Diplomacy has a human cost

@irbrodie: This morning, remembering all the diplomats who serve in dangerous posts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Am Speaking in Toronto Thursday Night

Thursday September 17
What does October’s Chinese Communist Party National Congress mean for China and the World?—The Canadian International Council’s Toronto branch presents this panel discussion. Panellists include Charles Burton, Brock University, and Jeremy Paltiel, Carleton University. 6:30-9 p.m., $15 members; $20 non-members. Aird & Berlis LLP, 181 Bay St., 18th floor, Toronto, Ont. 416-590-0630 or

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not cracking open the champagne on Canada-China FIPA just yet

The Agreement has now been signed by the President of China.  That has the effect of sending out a signal giving hope that China wants to deal fairly in foreign investment with Canada, so perhaps we should go easy on our concerns over CNOOC-Nexen.  But it is still subject to ratification by the National People's Congress.  Our experience with India might be instructive here:
From the DFAIT website (
"Canada and India announced the conclusion of negotiations towards a bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) on June 16, 2007 during the visit to Ottawa of India's then Minister of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Kamal Nath. Both sides agreed to carry out their respective procedures leading to formal signature and ratification of the agreement. However, during this process, in October 2009, India notified Canada that it had some concerns with the agreed text. Canada is committed to this important investment agreement and efforts to negotiate a resolution to these issues have been underway since that time so that the agreement can be completed and ratified as soon as possible."

But to me the larger issue is that we have not seen the negotiated text yet.  
Does it provide sufficient legal teeth to guarantees that Canadians will be treated fairly in the Chinese market? 
Is this an agreement that the Chinese central authorities can or will actually enforce?  
Will it help us to actually make some progress in the Chinese market?  

I wonder about such things.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012

My op-ed: The party will write the narrative for Ms. Gu – and for Nexen - The Globe and Mail

The party will write the narrative for Ms. Gu – and for Nexen - The Globe and Mail

"CNOOC’s party committee has a party discipline inspection group whose head, Zhang Jianwei, is also a senior member of the CNOOC board. Mr. Zhang’s job is to make sure that all the leaders of Nexen comply with the secret directives of the party leadership in Beijing. Woe betide those who don’t follow the party’s will for CNOOC. They know that shuanggui awaits the recalcitrant who might want to put the interests of Nexen’s Canadian shareholders first."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PM Visit Announcements on Canada-China Trade Follow-Up?

I am a little concerned that there has been no news on the economic complementarity study that the PM announced in China in February. If my memory serves it was to have come out in May. Not sure what the next steps are for getting the "negotiations completed" Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement to implementation either.

I was not encouraged by recent Chinese statements that Canadian diary products will not be allowed to have much share of the Chinese market due to "food security" concerns ( Because of 2 successive scandals over poisonous additives to Chinese processed milk products, Chinese consumers would probably have been happy to have a reliable pure Canadian diary option.

Baird Disappointed by Continued UNSC Paralysis / Canada's ambassador expects China to change Syria stance

I think David Mulroney in his CBC interview ( is not being realistic about the prospects of China coming 'round to our perspective on Syria.  In my view they will never support any international action to remove a dictatorship that has lost the confidence of its people.  But I do hope that I am proven wrong about this and that David is proven right.

July 19, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:
"It is with extreme disappointment and deep regret that the world witnessed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) fail the people of Syria yet again today.  The Security Council had the opportunity to finally do the right thing to enforce a plan through binding sanctions that would have sent a clear message to Assad and those backing him, but, instead, Russia and China chose the status quo. They also chose to ignore the spiralling violence. They failed to act in the most vulnerable hour for the Syrian people. Canada has continually impressed on Russia and China in Moscow, Beijing and Ottawa that they have a responsibility to bring about a solution to the crisis.  We will continue to work toward a diplomatic end to the violence, for that is the responsible thing to do." (

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is a well-connected Chinese youth getting away with murder in Canada?

Very troubling case: after the RCMP made unprecedented transfer of evidence to China for trial of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend in Canada, the case languishes in Beijing amid allegations of political interference with the Chinese court because the accused murder's family has senior connections to China's security sector.

September 27, 2012
Finnally justice was done and the murderer got a life sentence:

Very Much Hope These Serious Allegations of Jaffer-PRC Security Agency Connection Are Proven False

"Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer sought secret information about Canadian military satellite technology after meeting with state-owned Chinese technology companies in China in 2010, according to a document filed in an Ottawa courthouse Tuesday.  .  .  .  The Globe and Mail has previously reported that Jaffer claimed to have lost that passport when he was asked to return it following his wife's departure from cabinet."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Can China still promote a man who campaigned against corruption while family accumulated 100s of millions of dollars?

Can the Communist Party of China still promote a man who campaigned against corruption while his family accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars"

Probably. There's likely too much at stake to alter the long-planned transition of power at this late hour. The party's leaders proved long ago that they put "stability" ahead of all other principles.

Part of the problem is there is likely no one in the leadership group who is any cleaner than Mr. Xi.

Investigative Report on Colossal Wealth of Family of China's President Designate

"Xi Jinping Millionaire Relations Reveal Fortunes of Elite"

Xi Jinping, the man in line to be China's next president, warned
officials on a 2004 anti-graft conference call: "Rein in your
spouses, children, relatives, friends and staff, and vow not to use
power for personal gain."

As Xi climbed the Communist Party ranks, his extended family
expanded their business interests to include minerals, real estate
and mobile-phone equipment, according to public documents compiled
by Bloomberg.

Those interests include investments in companies with total assets
of $376 million; an 18 percent indirect stake in a rare- earths
company with $1.73 billion in assets; and a $20.2 million holding
in a publicly traded technology company.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let Me Try a Prediction About Canadian Politics For a Change

Well so far I am unable to come up with much informed speculation on what will happen at upcoming Chinese Communist Party 18th Congress. I only have wishful thinking on that one.

But I am pretty sure that I won't be wrong again with this Canadian political prediction:
If Trudeau junior becomes leader of the Liberal Party, that Party will go the way of the other rock solid national institutions of my youth --- the Progressive Conservative Party, Eaton's stores and Bell Canada --- in short order.

I should just stick with Chinese political prognoses, I suppose.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Details of US Gov't Letter of Investigation of Huawei and ZTE Reported

In a May 23 meeting, Huawei officials told the lawmakers that the company maintains "a Party Committee," according to the letter. The letter asked about "the roles, responsibilities and authorities" of the Party Committee.

The lawmakers asked both companies if they have "ever been ordered by the Chinese government to perform a task or seek information on behalf of the government""

They also asked the companies if any employees "ever attempted to obtain private information from an individual, company or government" through their company's network or equipment.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More US Allegations of Huawei and ZTE's Connections to the Government of China

Chinese companies apparently have a covert capability to remotely access communications technology sold to the United States and other Western countries and could "disable a country's telecommunications infrastructure before a military engagement," according to former and current intelligence sources.

Read more:

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good News! 18th Party Congress Delayed

China delaying the 18th Party Congress offers hope there will be significant political reform measures announced when it does finally meet.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My rather optimistic op-ed "Sunk by corruption, even in China" - The Globe and Mail

"Party corruption runs deep; Some suggest scandals will fade and pose no threat to the authoritarian rule of China's Communists. They are wrong."
Sunk by corruption, even in China - The Globe and Mail

There is a Chinese language TV interview with me on the same topic from OMNI TV Mandarin News of April 19 (starts at about 7:50):

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Xinhua News Agency reports China suspends Bo from elite ranks, wife suspected of murder | Reuters

China suspends Bo from elite ranks, wife suspected of murder | Reuters


Bo Xilai 'expelled from China's Communist Party' - Telegraph

Bo Xilai 'expelled from China's Communist Party' - Telegraph

Expulsion from the Party means no prospect of return to public life.  Much more serious than simply being removed from posts.  Bo Xilai's expulsion from Chinese Communist Party means his career is definitely and absolutely over.  Never coming back.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

3 Reasons Why the Next Canadian Ambassador to China Should Be a Political Appointment

1. Sending a strong politically connected ambassador sends a signal to Chinese that we are serious about upgrading the China relationship in Canada’s international priorities.  It is a lot better than sending a bland DFAIT Mandarin.  We need someone senior in this post.

2.  This sort of person will not have one eye on going into business with the Chinese and getting rich after ambassadorship ends.  Better not to have future personal Chinese plans overshadowing his pursuit of Canadian interests while still a humble incomed civil servant.

3. This sort of person is more likely to press on with follow through on the FIPA, etc.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vancouver Sun Report on Allegatons of Chinese Cyber-Espionage: "China has not been behaving like a friend"

"An electronic stealth operation allegedly based in China hacks into Nortel Networks Inc., Canada's high-flying telecom superstar, loots its secrets for a decade and, says one cyber-security expert, contributes to the company's fatal implosion.

Queen's University professor David Skillicorn points out that after the hackers penetrated Nortel around 2000, they began stealing technical papers, research and development reports, and strategic business plans.

After that, Nortel couldn't compete for contracts "because the hackers had their technical knowledge, their financials, their bids, before they submitted them," Skillicorn told Postmedia News. "How can you compete in an environment like that? These hackers weren't into Nortel just out of curiosity. They were using the stuff they got.""


"Last year, as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty prepared for a G20 economic summit in Paris, hackers penetrated Canada's Treasury Board and department of finance computer networks. They also infiltrated the House of Commons network. Later analysis identified a particular interest in MPs with large numbers of ethnic Chinese in their constituencies.

Canada's Communications Security Establishment tracked this hacking operation to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa and from there to computer servers in Beijing, reported CTV News."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

National Post Report Alleges Suspicions on Huawei: "Nortel hacked to bits"

"Mr. Shields was convinced there were criminals working on behalf of China's Huawei Technologies Co. accessing the CEO's files, but his hunch hadn't been enough for his immediate bosses to grant him direct access to the top man's PC.

"I went on my own then and pulled the Web logs from Mike Z. since I had access to those kinds of logs back then," the 53-year-old Nortel veteran recalls. It was there he finally found the digital smoking gun he had spent years trying to find."

China's embassy in Washington issued a statement to the WSJ specifically denying any involvement in the Nortel hacking, saying "cyber attacks were transnational and anonymous" and shouldn't be assumed to originate in China "without thorough investigation and hard evidence."

Nortel hacked to bits

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Do I Have to Keep Defending the Office of Religious Freedom?

The Canadian International Council sent me another mass mailing to promote their new debate series entitled: "The New Missionaries: Should Canada Promote Religious Freedom Abroad?" (  It certainly gets off on the wrong foot with the reference to "new missionaries."  The Government of Canada clearly has no intention to proselytize religion domestically or internationally.  So why is the CIC being so wrong-headed in framing the debate in this way?

I think the bottom line is that for the majority of the people of the world who are people of faith the importance of the freedom to practice their faith openly and without fear of harassment is self-evident.  This is because for people of faith there is nothing more important than their faith.  They are prepared to suffer imprisonment, deprivation, death rather than give up the precious belief that defines their lives, identities and souls.  Nothing is more painful to them than the desecration of their holy places and the violation of their religious symbols and sacred objects.

These facts are evidently troubling to some who lack faith in their lives.  They therefore deride the noble project of the Government of Canada to make promotion of  religious freedom a central priority in Canadian foreign policy  They attempt to reduce it to banal political motives.

They are wrong about this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thoughts on State Capitalism and Cyber-Espionage

CTV National News ran an item last night alleging years-long Chinese state involvement in hacking into the Nortel comnpany's computers and removing information about new technologies and about confidential commercial negotiations (Hackers had 'widespread access' to Nortel's network  via ) It is logical that Chinese large state-owned enterprises, whose heads are appointed by the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, should have full access to all of the resources of the Chinese state.  This would include the use of intelligence agencies to get them information on rival proprietary technologies and information on their competitors' commercial negotiations.

Canadian companies such as RIM on the other hand have no reciprocal access to the resources of the Canadian Government's Communications Security Establishment of Canada, because RIM is a private company whose focus is profit for its shareholders.  RIM does not have a mandate to further the interests of the Canadian state per se.

There is therefore a qualitative difference between Chinese state owned firms' investment in Canada and investments by purely commercial entities based in the USA and elsewhere,  State-owned firms ultimately put the interests of the State that they are an arm of over all else.

Legal, political hurdles ahead for China investment deal | Embassy - Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper

Friday, February 10, 2012

China Refuses to Allow PM Visit TV Transmission from Chongqing

@cburton001: China blocks transmission of Canadian television footage of Harper - Winnipeg Free Press

PM's Comments on Human Rights in Guangzhou Reported by the Toronto Star

""Taking things to the next level" with China means recognizing "we should engage more deeply" not just on trade, he said, but on "fundamental national values."

Canadians, he said, expect their prime minister to have a "good and frank dialogue on fundamental principles such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of belief and worship."

"Canadians also demand that their government be a responsible global citizen in dealing with the peace and security challenges that confront the world, and wherever we can, to urge other governments, including global actors like China, to do the same."

The fact Harper made the remarks in public meant they would register clearly with China's leaders—after Harper said he also raised them in private meetings this week.

But there is little likelihood the broader Chinese population would hear them through state-controlled media."

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Joint List of Outcomes of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Visit to China

Joint List of Outcomes of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Visit to China

February 9, 2012
Beijing, China

At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid an official visit to China from February 7 to 11. During the visit, President Hu Jintao, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao held meetings with Prime Minister Harper. Vice Premier Li Keqiang met Prime Minister Harper and both attended and addressed the 5th Canada-China Business Forum.
The leaders reaffirmed the guiding principles outlined in the Canada-China Joint Statement of 2009 and their commitment to strengthen the Canada-China strategic partnership. Both sides agreed to maintain frequent high-level exchanges, reinforce political trust, expand practical cooperation, increase people-to-people exchanges, and strengthen consultation and cooperation on international and regional issues in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. The leaders also agreed to bring the economic partnership to the next level by improving the bilateral investment regime. At the same time, the two sides agreed to deepen economic and trade cooperation, and step up cooperation in the areas of energy and other natural resources including oil and gas, nuclear energy, renewable energy, forest products and minerals. These developments will be strengthened by expanded cooperation in the fields of agriculture, high technology, clean technology, environmental protection, life-sciences, bio-pharmacy, civil aviation and financial services, and among small and medium-sized enterprises, so as to cultivate new growth points of mutually-beneficial cooperation. Both sides agreed to elevate education as a new strategic priority of the bilateral relationship. Both sides also agreed to increase dialogue and exchanges on human rights, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to promote and protect human rights consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights instruments.
Having reached consensus, the two sides announced a series of important developments and signed relevant agreements. These include the following:
  1. The two sides announced the conclusion of the substantive negotiations on the bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Both sides signed a declaration of intent and will work to finalise the text within their respective domestic processes.
  2. The leaders agreed that the joint study being done in the Canada-China Economic Partnership Working Group on areas where the two economies are complementary will be completed by May 2012, after which Canada and China will proceed to exploratory discussions on deepening trade and economic relations.
  3. With a view to strengthening bilateral cooperation in uranium trade and development, both sides held fruitful discussions and reached agreement in principle on a legal instrument to further implement the bilateral Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which will facilitate exports of Canadian uranium to China. Both sides will work to finalise the text within their respective domestic processes.
  4. The two sides renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Concerning Cooperation in the Field of Energy between Natural Resources Canada and the National Energy Administration of China. 
  5. The two sides announced their intent to conclude the substantive negotiations for an updated Canada-China Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation. Both sides will work together to finalise the text within their respective domestic processes.
  6. The two sides announced the conclusion of substantive negotiations on the amendment to the Canada-China Air Transport Agreement. Both sides will work together to finalise the text within their respective domestic processes.
  7. The two sides signed the Protocol between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China and on Quarantine and Health Requirements for Industrial Beef Tallow to be exported from Canada to China.
  8. The two sides signed a Cooperative Arrangement on Inspection and Quarantine Access Issues between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China.
  9. The two sides signed an MOU between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China on a Cooperative Plan for Leptosphaeria Maculans Risk Mitigation (Joint Canola Research).
  10. The two sides agreed to sign an MOU between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of Canada  and the Ministry of Agriculture of China on Fisheries Cooperation at an early date.
  11. The two sides signed the statement of intent for cooperation in the area of science, technology and innovation, and announced the third batch of Canada-China science and technology cooperation projects.
  12. The two sides signed the MOU on Cooperation between the Natural Resources Canada and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Sustainable Development of Natural Resources.
  13. The two sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen cooperation in combatting transnational crime and repatriating fugitives in accordance with their respective laws, and to enhance judicial and law enforcement cooperation, and agreed to launch negotiations on an agreement on the sharing of the proceeds of crime.
  14. The two sides renewed the MOU between the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Education Ministry of China on the Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program, and agreed to explore additional means to expand two-way academic exchange, aspiring to reach the goal of 100,000 students studying in each other's countries within five years. The two sides recognise that there is a particular need to encourage more Canadian students to study in China.
  15. The two sides highlighted the complementary nature of their respective civil aviation industries and the important role they play in contributing to growth and prosperity in both Canada and China, and undertook to strengthen collaboration in this area.
  16. The two sides plan on holding a series of cultural activities in each other's countries in 2013 and 2014.
  17. Following agreement by Canada and China, the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens will sign an agreement with the Toronto and Calgary zoos to provide a pair of giant pandas for 10 years of collaborative research on conservation.
  18. The two sides signed the MOU between the Parks Canada Agency and the State Forestry Administration of China for cooperation on matters related to protected areas.
  19. Both sides applauded the upgrading of Canada's Consulate in Chongqing to Consulate-General.
  20. The Chinese side welcomed the availability of multiple entry Canadian visas for Chinese citizens valid for a period of up to 10 years. The relevant authorities will undertake bilateral consultations on further simplifying visa procedures.
  21. The two sides reaffirmed that Canada and China have important shared interests in promoting peace, security and sustainable development regionally and globally, and agreed to enhance coordination and cooperation in the UN, G20, APEC and other multilateral institutions as well as on major international and regional issues. The two sides agreed that Canada and China are ready to work constructively with other countries in the region to enhance peace, security and stability in Asia-Pacific.
  22. During the visit, more than 20 commercial agreements were signed between enterprises of the two countries.

The Prime Minister's Office - Communications

My Interview with Radio China International

China Radio International ran an edited interview with me on February 10: (my part starts about 15:20 in).  My references to Huseyin Celil, China's commitments re: yuan exchange rate at G-20, etc., etc. were removed.  Some of the editing even took phrases out of single sentences.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

My Thoughts on Canada's FIPA Negotiations with China

I think it would be a mistake for Canada to get locked in to a weak FIPA with China that does not genuinely ensure fair treatment for all Canadian investment in China.

What Canadian investors want to see before they can feel confident in dealings with China is a FIPA that is based in effective measures to guarantee that Chinese contractual obligations will be enforced through a fair legal process. A FIPA whose provisions are more rhetorical than concrete and subject to arbitrary interpretation by local authorities and weakened by carve outs and escape clauses gets us no where.

But it is hard for China's Central government to undertake an international treaty obligation with Canada that gives Canadian investment preferential treatment over that of other nations who wish to do business in China. Moreover China's Central government would have difficulty implementing an effective Canadian FIPA at the local levels.

In the final analysis the real answer ultimately lies in strong and effective and comprehensive domestic legislation in China to tame China's "wild west" business culture and make it possible for all contractual disputes to be subject to mediation by due process of law that would treat all parties in a just and fair manner.

FIPAs are really just a stop gap that can never substitute for that.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Prime Minister Harper's Statement on Canada-China Relations to National Post Today

We've always been very clear that when it comes to all countries, and particularly dealing with an emerging superpower like China that a relationship be balanced across the range of issues. There are not just economic and trade issues when it comes to the Chinese relationship. There are also security issues, and there are also human rights and democratic issues. And we've always been clear that we will speak our mind on these things, we will be very frank with the Chinese leadership about our concerns. And that's what we've always done. And I think as you will recall, when we came to office, the argument of many, some of our opponents and many outside that, was that you simply could not raise or keep these issues on the agenda and pursue a good economic relationship. I think that's proven to be false. As you see, if anything our trade and investment has increased more quickly under this government and we have continued to express our concerns, and will continue to do so. I think the Chinese, at first, were not used to that approach from Canada. They expected that Canada would not vocalize any issues that were the least bit troubling to them. That was the approach they were used to from the government. I think now they understand that this is a government that has somewhat of a different agenda, that we have a more balanced approach across a range of issues, that we are clearer and more outspoken on foreign policy than our predecessors. But at the same time we are also committed to mutually beneficial economic relations. And that's what we are going to pursue.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Speech by John Baird Monday Cites Canada's Concerns About Religious Suppression in China

Foreign Minister John Baird renewed his criticism of China's crackdown on religious freedom in a speech Monday in London.

"In China, we see Roman Catholic priests, Christian clergy and their laity, worshipping outside of state-sanctioned boundaries, who are continually subject to raids, arrests, and detention," Baird said in a prepared text.

"We see Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uyghur Muslims face harassment, and physical intimidation. These abhorrent acts fly in the face of our core principals, our core values."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Dragon Year, Lovely Little Canadian Girls!

Last night I was stage manager for the Niagara Chinese New Year Gala.  First item was singing of the National Anthem by "the children of the Families of Children from China of Niagara" (one of the 5 co-sponsors of the event).  The afternoon before the show I arranged a little over a dozen little girls in a semi-circle around 3 microphones on the stage of the Merriton Community Centre and rehearsed them in singing "Oh Canada" all standing at attention heads up, shoulders back looking straight ahead at the audience of 450.  All of my singers were girls all adopted from China as infants, youngest now 4 and eldest 9, all dressed in silky qipao looking both insufferably cute and utterly lovely.  We went through the anthem 4 times until I got them doing it strongly, committed  and without hesitation.

That evening after the Chinese supper was done, the lights dimmed in the hall and the line of girls walked out to the middle of the stage.  Cue the music.  And they sang out in pure and clear voices radiating with the innocence of Canadian children:
With glowing hearts we see thee rise
The truth north strong and free!
From far and wide, Oh Canada
We stand on guard for thee!
God keep our land glorious and free!
Oh Canada!
We stand on guard for thee.

My eyes watered a little.
When I am grown old, I will happily leave my Canada in their tender care.

Then the cymbals crashed and the drum boomed and the Lion Dance started our Chinese show off with flurry of joyful noise.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

End Zimbabwe Anglican Church Persecution

@cburton001: Anglican Communion News Service: Southern Africa Primate tells President Mugabe: "Stop police persecuting the church".