Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liberal Party China Policy - Trudeau unveils foreign policy team of ex-military officers, ambassadors

Trudeau unveils foreign policy team of ex-military officers, ambassadors - The Globe and Mail

"Another member of Mr. Trudeau’s council is Margaret Cornish, a Beijing-based senior adviser for the law firm Bennett Jones, who has argued against special restrictions on what Chinese state-owned firms can buy in Canada."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Canada, China to sign deal on return of fugitives' seized assets

Canada, China to sign deal on return of fugitives' seized assets | Daily Mail Online

This agreement following hard on the treaty Canada signed with China last month to exchange information on Customs investigations, suggest that Canada is making significant concessions to demands from the People's Republic of China without any assurance of reciprocal concessions on the part of the PRC in response to our concerns about market access and human rights. For example, we have not asked that China respond positively by resolving the consular case of Kevin and Julia Garratt prior to our announcing the above two agreements with China. 

Both of these agreements are highly problematic for Canada. "The return of property related to people who would have fled to Canada and would have been involved in corrupt activities", as Ambassador Saint-Jacques puts it is a noble goal consistent with Canadian values. But the issue is when the Chinese government informs us that the bank accounts and property of a Chinese person in Canada are the proceeds of criminal activity in China. How can we fairly assess this claim before seizing the assets of the alleged criminal and handing them over to the Chinese agency that has demanded them? 

In Canada we demand full due process of law for everyone in our country whether Canadian or Chinese. The main reason we do not have an extradition treaty with China is because we do not trust the evidentiary basis for claims of criminality by the PRC regime. That will be the case so long as China has no independent judiciary. 

Presently the police and the judges must submit to the authority of "Political and Legal Committees" of the Chinese Communist Party.  We therefore have concerns that these requests to Canada to strip the assets of Chinese people in Canada and repatriate them to China may be more informed by political factors related to factional struggle within the Chinese Communist Party than purely legal claims. 

That being said hopefully the text of this agreement and of the customs agreement will both be made public soon so that they can be assessed independently and enter into the public debate over Canada's foreign relations with China.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Puzzling: Harper government quietly signed customs agreement with China - National | Globalnews.ca

EXCLUSIVE: Harper government quietly signed customs agreement with China - National | Globalnews.ca

“I’m hard-pressed to know why it is that Canada feels it would be in our interest to share information on sensitive matters of interdiction of illegal exports and other customs-related matters with the Chinese state, who would likely pass it on to exactly the people that we are hoping to prevent from doing this kind of illegal activity,” Burton said.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nexen Continues Termination of Canadian Staff

"Power said 'standardization'is more important now that Nexen is part of a bigger organization and the new structure is 'well aligned with head office.'
CNOOC’s $15.1-billion acquisition of Nexen Inc. two years ago triggered a change in Canadian foreign investment rules to ban state-owned enterprises from gaining control of oilsands assets in the future. The company was said over the summer to be cutting costs and staff, despite assuring Ottawa it would keep all of its executives and employees.
CNOOC fired chief executive Kevin Reinhart last April and replaced him with Fang Zhi, a CNOOC executive of 30 years with an MBA from a British university, who served on the Nexen integration team."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hong Kong police get ready to clear Occupy protest sites

Hong Kong police get ready to clear Occupy protest sites http://on.wsj.com/1zjdOpA

So sadly predictable; exactly as I had thought would happen

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Op-Ed "Why is Harper in China? The ethnic vote. And money" - The Globe and Mail

Why is Harper in China? The ethnic vote. And money - The Globe and Mail

"Chinese media reports of the Harper visit focused on boosting relations, increasing trade and “building mutual trust.” This seems to mean trusting Beijing’s assurances that Ottawa should have no cause for concern about allegations of pervasive serious human rights abuse in China, or about Chinese cyber espionage threatening Canadian security. Indeed there were many photographs of Mr. Harper and his accompanying cabinet ministers laughing and smiling and giving the impression that they thoroughly enjoyed interacting with leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.

But it is hard to imagine that Mr. Harper was genuinely building bonds of friendship at his lengthy Friday meeting with Xiao Baolong, the Communist Party Secretary of Zhejiang province. Mr. Xiao is currently currying favour with the leadership in Beijing by systematically suppressing Christianity. Hundreds of churches have been ordered to remove visible crosses from their buildings, and many churches have been completely razed on the premise of “building code violations” – including the heart-rending destruction of the magnificent, recently constructed Sanjiang Cathedral that could seat 3,000 worshippers."

President Obama's Comments on China at APEC Opening Speech

"We look to China to create a more level playing field on which foreign companies are treated fairly," Obama said.

"We look to China to become an innovative economy that values the protection of intellectual property rights and rejects cybertheft of trade secrets for commercial gain."

He also called on China "to stand up for human rights and freedom of the press."


Friday, November 07, 2014

My Interview with China Daily

This past couple of weeks, I have been interviewed by Mainland China "media" about Canada-China relations.  None of them have been actually published in their ostensible outlets insofar as I am aware (CCTV, People's Daily, etc.).  But it is intriguing to see what the Chinese regime is interested in knowing about.  

Here is one done by e-mail yesterday with my responses:

The prime minister's meeting with Chinese President Xi - what do you think will be the main topics they will discuss?
There are broad range of topics of interest to both sides that will likely be on the agenda for the talks between the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of China. Certainly both will want to engage on trade and investment. Canada would like better access to the Chinese market to address the 3 to 1 trade imbalance between our countries. China would also like more assurances the Chinese state firms will have major investments in Canadian natural resources and infrastructure reviewed and approved approved by the Canadian government in a timely fashion. 
The Canadian government has alleged the Chinese state entities have engaged in cyber espionage on Canadian government computers in 2011 and earlier this year. Canada, like the other APEC nations who have similar concerns, would like a more fulsome assurance from the President of China that there will be no further incidents of this nature. 
There is also the consular case of Kevin and Julia Garratt who have been held without charge by the Chinese authorities for three months now. This matter is taken very seriously by Canadians so I'm sure the Prime Minister Harper will ask President Xi for an explanation of the nature of the evidence against them and will urge that they be given access to their lawyer and due process of law.

Will they discuss both countries response to Isis and Ebola?
These two matters will likely come up in multilateral discussions at APEC but I doubt that they will be major issues in the bilateral meeting between the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of China.

The ratification of FIPA (investment treaty) in September by Canada did this help to set a positive tone for the meeting.
I believe that this ratification in the face of considerable political opposition is expected to be answered by reciprocal gesture of goodwill on the part of the Government of China.

China doesn't like the restrictions on investment in Canada's energy sector by State-Owned firms - will there be any progress on this issue?
The Government of Canada can give an assurance to the Government of China that Canada welcomes Chinese state investment in our energy sector, but that Canada will not permit Chinese state firms to gain a majority controlling share in Canadian enterprises in our critical natural resources sector. 
China has much more stringent restrictions on foreign investment in the natural resources sector in China and we do not anticipate the China will make any reciprocal concessions as the Chinese government sees this as a matter of national security.

Friday, October 31, 2014

PMO announces that PM to visit China November 5-10

PM to visit China

“As the world’s second-largest economy and Canada’s second-largest single-country trading partner, China represents tremendous opportunities for Canada. I look forward to meeting with government and business leaders to further strengthen bilateral relations and lay an even broader framework of agreements that will enable Canadian businesses to truly take advantage of China’s large, diverse and dynamic economy.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Puzzling reporting by China Daily that PM will be attending APEC after all

"A senior Chinese diplomat confirmed that Harper will be in Beijing to attend the November APEC leaders meeting.
The confirmation followed comments from Harper's office this week suggesting that he had canceled plans to attend the APEC meeting in the wake of terror attacks in Canada that claimed the lives of two soldiers.There was even speculation that Harper would not attend the APEC event after relations with China hit a rocky patch earlier this year.China's Ambassador to Canada Luo Zhaohui said at a reception at his residence on Wednesday that Harper will pay an official visit and attend the annual gathering of the 21 APEC member economies."


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Video of my interview with Pat Bolland "The demand for democracy"

Video of my interview with Pat Bolland "The demand for democracy" : Prime time : SunNews Video Gallery - http://bit.ly/1nKUz7x broadcast on September 29, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Views on Hong Kong Protests Broadcast on CBC "The Current" This Morning

"Hong Kong demonstrators are angry and continue to demand free elections. New leader Xi Jinping believes in strong leadership and is determined to preserve China's political system. Protesters says it will take more than tear gas to back down. So will Beijing compromise or crack down?"


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My interview on RCI "Leader may cancel China tour over couple’s arrest"

Leader may cancel China tour over couple’s arrest

This is a long radio interview with me, broadcast on Radio Canada International, that reflects my views on a number of aspects of Canada-China relations
There is also a version in Mandarin: http://www.rcinet.ca/zh/2014/09/15/24768/?-???????????????????/

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two Chinese reporters banned from Prime Minister's Arctic trip: video

The Prime Minister's Office will not allow two Chinese reporters to join a trip to the arctic.

Two Chinese reporters banned from arctic trip : Prime time : SunNews Video Gallery

Pat Bolland's interview with me broadcast on SUN TV on August 19, 2014.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Comments on Chinese Ambassador's Op-Ed Relating to the Garratts' Incarceration

Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui has published an Op-Ed in the Globe and Mail: "China and Canada: We can manage our differences" http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/china-and-canada-we-can-manage-our-differences/article20074157/

Commentary about it is given here: "Chinese envoy offers olive branch on Garratts’ detention in Globe letter"

My own Op-Ed about the Garratts incarceration "Canadians detained in China are pawns in a bigger geopolitical game" can be read at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/canadians-detained-in-china-are-pawns-in-a-bigger-geopolitical-game/article19946529/

My take on it: The Ambassador's Op-Ed follows the standard messaging of the Chinese Foreign Ministry to Western nations. Our strongly held concerns about China's human rights record, Chinese state espionage, and China's support for repressive regimes in the Third World are pejoratively dismissed as "bumps and grumps."  The notion that we should "manage our differences" really implies that we should set these serious concerns aside and focus on "practical cooperation" in trade and investment.  The reference to "face up to individual cases and properly handle our differences" almost certainly refers to the Ambassador's concern about the Garratts' arrest on blatantly trumped up charges of espionage as he puts it "kidnapping our bilateral relations."

To my understanding the Garratts are being held by the Ministry of State Security.  The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has little influence over the much more powerful Ministry of State Security.  The Ambassador will be held to account by his Government if under his ambassadorship Canada-China relations flounder.  So I would imagine that Mr. Luo would be much relieved if the Garratts were deported back to Canada.  I fervently hope that this will happen.  But I see this Op-Ed as a defensive public plea in the face of the Embassy's considerable concern over what they are hearing from DFATD about the potential impact of the Garratts continuing incarceration on Canada's China policy.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Purge of Xu Caihou is Hugely Significant

Purge of Xu Caihou is hugely significant: 


It is about serious factional issues, not just his massive receiving of bribes. The latter defines many, many (most) serious officials, but it is Mr. Xu that is being purged.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

25 Years Ago: It's Not That I Didn't Understand

25 years ago, its not that I didn't understand, but then came the 35th day of May. 

RIP Tiananmen martyrs, young idealistic lives caught terribly short.

Friday, May 30, 2014

What Beijing learned from Tiananmen: Democracy isn’t needed for prosperity

Article in Globe and Mail by Charlie Foran citing my memories "What Beijing learned from Tiananmen: Democracy isn’t needed for prosperity" http://fw.to/yzfR4KZ

Monday, April 28, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My letter to The Toronto Star about the Statement by Liu Jianhui and Zheng Yaru Published this Morning


To:  Kevin Cavanagh  AUncles@thestar.ca  Lucy Burton  Jianhui Liu
Dear Alison,

Thank you very much for publishing the translation.  The photo of Liu Qian as a child on the mountain on the front page is lovely.

I just spoke with Liu Jianhui and mentioned the Star's generous offer to make a donation to a charity in the name of Liu Jianhui and Zheng Yaru to a charity.  Well I was very touched to learn that he and his wife had taken some of the money that the Chinese community in Toronto has collected for them and given it to the Sick Kids Hospital, which they could see out of the window of their room in the Doubletree Hotel where they stayed during the trial.  I had told them when I was up in their hotel room about how grateful I was to that hospital because when she was a young teenager my daughter Lucy had had 2 operations of 13 and 4 hours respectively to address a serious heart defect there.  Mr. Liu has asked that the Star's donation also go to Sick Kids.

Hope you are having a good weekend.


Skype: cburton002

Monday, April 07, 2014

Justice Finally Done in the Tragic Death of Liu Qian

Today Brian Dickson has been found guilty of first degree murder in the death of Liu Qian.

Justice has been done, but I feel only deep, deep sadness at her terrible loss.

RIP, Necole.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

My Op-Ed in this morning's Globe and Mail China’s leadership entrenches – this cannot bode well

China’s leadership entrenches – this cannot bode well - The Globe and Mail

Unfortunately, the signal importance to these minorities of language, culture and religious rights evidently escapes China’s leadership. For many Uyghurs and Tibetans, for instance, the fight for symbols that recognize their identity – their own flag, a seat at the United Nations, a free media that tells their people’s story in their own terms, their own schools and political leaders – is a paramount concern. It is the stuff of their souls, for which some will resort to terror and violence, even laying down their lives in horrible ways. 

.  .  .

Wednesday’s report suggests China will step up its struggle for regional power and influence against Japan in the coming year. The government indicated ominously that “we will safeguard the victory of World War II and the postwar international order, and will not allow anyone to reverse the course of history.” Combined with a promise to increase the military’s budget by 12.2 per cent, well in excess of anticipated gross domestic product growth, this cannot bode well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

My Take on the Terrible Incident at the Kunming Railway Station

Mercifully, none of our family and friends were at the Kunming Railway Station that terrible evening.

Yesterday, I was asked to make a few comments for the Toronto Mandarin TV News.  I judge that the questions the reporter asked me shed more light on the issue than my answers.  For example, I was asked if I thought that the reason the incident occurred in Kunming is because so many Uyghurs travel to Yunnan to buy drugs.  Another was did I think that the reason that the Uyghurs engage in terrorism is because they want are an independent East Turkestan so they can keep all the wealth generated by natural resource extraction in Xinjiang for themselves.  So is it about greed?  And there was the implication that all Uyghurs, coordinated by Rebiya Kadeer with U.S. support, foment terrorism to further their cause.

But I see the Han-Uyghur conflict as fundamentally a problem of incompatible and evidently  irreconcilable narratives of history about the same piece of territory.  Unfortunately, the signal importance of language, culture and religion to the Uyghurs largely escapes most Han people.  But the fight for recognition of their identity, the symbols of their own flag, a seat for their nation at the U.N., a free media in the Uyghur language that tells their people's story in their own terms, and of course their own schools and political leaders is to many Uyghurs their paramount abiding concern, because it is the stuff of their souls.  And for this some will resort to terror and violence and even lay down their lives.

I wish that I could see some path to a resolution of all this.  But, regrettably, I cannot.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Report in Chinese that Zhou Yongkang has been expelled from the Party


It has not been denied by the Chinese MFA yet

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom Meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom Meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"Canadians are concerned about the restrictions placed by the Chinese government on the right to freedom of religion of Tibetan Buddhists, especially on their ability to worship in peace. We are also concerned by the self-immolations by some Tibetans.

Canada has consistently advocated substantive and meaningful dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives to work toward a resolution of outstanding issues that is acceptable to both sides."

On China's Refusal to Endorse the UN Report on Human Rights in the DPRK

I find this report on  China-Korea and human rights' analysis highly convincing:
From The Globe and Mail:

Monday, February 03, 2014

NYTimes: Imax Faces a Threat in China: technology stolen from Canada

From The New York Times
Imax Faces a Threat in China
Not only could competitors in China cut into its potential market share there, but Imax has charged in several courts that the Chinese system relies on technology that was blatantly stolen from its offices in Canada.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ambassador of Canada to China, Guy Saint-Jacques‘ Statement on Sentencing of Law Professor Xu Zhiyong

Ambassador of Canada to China, Guy Saint-Jacques‘ Statement on Sentencing of Law Professor Xu Zhiyong - http://bit.ly/KZqRIJ

"Other incidents of concern include:

  • the arrest of Professor Ilham Tohti, who has publicly expressed his concern for the well-being of Chinese Uyghurs;
  • the disappearance on February 2, 2009 of Gao Zhisheng, a Christian human rights lawyer known for defending religious minorities and land-rights petitioners;
  • the house detention of Liu Xia, wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has been held largely incommunicado even though she has never been convicted of any offence;
  • the 11-year sentencing of Liu Xiaobo for incitement to subversion."

My views are quoted in Ann Hui's report "Canadian ambassador rebukes China for jailing rights activist" published in the Globe and Mail on January 27, 2014: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadas-ambassador-to-china-criticizes-jailing-of-xu-zhiyong/article16505333/

Interviews about this on Radio Canada International Mandarin Service and English Service:

伯顿谈加拿大对许志永案的声明以及习近平的“列宁主义” - http://bit.ly/1jCb6GK

My Sun TV interview on this: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/featured/prime-time/867432237001/canada-condemns-china/3233030309001

Thursday, January 23, 2014

China blocks CBC website after story about offshore accounts - World - CBC News

China blocks CBC website after story about offshore accounts - World - CBC News

Seems this reflects Communist Party fear about Chinese people fulfilling the Biblical injunction:

John 8:32

King James Version (KJV)
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Friday, January 03, 2014

We Wei Po report: Jang's execution bodes ill for China

According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called "quan jue", or execution by dogs.  The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, along with 300 senior officials observing this horror.