Thursday, December 03, 2015

More bad news for CNOOC-Nexen

 China Probes a Senior Oil Official’s Mysterious Death - China Real Time Report - WSJ -

More bad news for CNOOC

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Beijing’s real reasons behind the summit in Singapore - My Op Ed in the Globe and Mail

Beijing’s real reasons behind the summit in Singapore - The Globe and Mail

"Last weekend’s summit did not go well. Mr. Ma was rebuffed when he asked China to ease restrictions on Taiwan’s participation in global organizations and bodies. When he asked that China reduce its military presence on the coast across from Taiwan, Mr. Xi simply responded absurdly that the massive arsenal is not targeted at Taiwan. Mr. Xi did offer to reconsider the decision to deny Taiwan’s participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but basically Mr. Ma left humiliated, and one wonders what Mr. Xi intended by this meeting.  .  .  .  China’s defiant sovereignty claims over islands in the South China Sea have led to condemnation by its neighbours and the international community at large, but China’s newly aggressive nationalistic military actions in the region make one wonder whether Mr. Xi’s puzzling meeting with Mr. Ma on Saturday is a harbinger of much more assertive moves by the Communists to bring Taiwan under PRC control once and for all."

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Op-Ed in today's Globe and Mail "Goodbye to the Age of China's "Little Emperors"

"Perhaps the greatest benefit of the policy change will be sociological. Under the one-child policy, most children are overindulged by two parents and four grandparents. They have no brothers or sisters, cousins, or uncles and aunts. All the expectations of the generations fall onto their young shoulders, and the pressure to succeed can be crushing and character-distorting. Moreover, these “little emperors” tend to grow up with an exaggerated sense of self-importance and often lack the social sensibilities necessary to a civil society.
The termination of this policy is a rare piece of good news out of China, and should be welcomed. It’s likely that Chinese couples with only one child will be turning in early tonight."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Terry Glavin: Welcoming back the Liberal old guard | National Post

Terry Glavin: Welcoming back the Liberal old guard | National Post

I highly recommend this article.

"For the millions of Canadians who voted for Justin Trudeau in the hopes of a break from the past, the appointment of the grizzled mandarin Peter Harder to lead Trudeau’s transition to power doesn’t look like a harbinger of a fresh new start.

For anyone hoping that Ottawa will not fall back into the clutches of the old Liberal establishment that Trudeau was supposed to have overthrown, Harder’s appointment should ring an alarm bell or two. For anyone concerned about effective global action on climate change, or Canada’s approach to the obscenities of human rights abuses in China, those bells should be ringing from the rooftops."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Letter to a Friend Who Opposes the Concept of "Canadian Values"

Dear John,

It is good to hear from you again.

I think it would be fair to say that "Canadian values" have implicit within them "universal values." Of course every nation that chooses to become a member of the United Nations is required to acknowledge the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Canada has also ratified covenants that elaborate on the UDHR starting with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.  Once ratified, the values underlying these treaties have to be accepted as "Canadian values."  But the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does have implicit in it certain values which while fully consistent with "universal values" are distinctive to Canada.

We reject any national values that are at cross purposes to universal values.  But Canada supports the idea that nations have values which reflect their own cultural traditions. But universal values always trump national values.

Best regards.


Monday, October 26, 2015

My Op-Ed in Globe Mail: "Relations with China should hinge on more than short-term economic value"

Relations with China should hinge on more than short-term economic value - The Globe and Mail

"Willingness to seriously engage the once-isolated China was a positive hallmark of past Liberal governments, from Pierre Trudeau on, but the dynamics of that relationship have changed considerably since that era. It would be negligent to not appreciate the threat to Canadian sovereignty and interests posed by Beijing’s non-democratic, nationalistic, expansionist Leninist politics.    .    .    . Clearly, “quiet diplomacy” has had no discernible positive impact, but rather functions as tacit consent for egregious Chinese regime behaviour. Canada should have no further part of it. We simply lose the respect of the Chinese regime if we do not speak out honestly and constructively about our concerns over China’s human-rights violations, support for rogue dictators, cyberespionage and underhanded attempts to subvert the decisions of Canadian political leaders to further China’s state interests."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Trudeau victory may bolster chances for FTA with China" published in the China Daily on October 21, 2015

My views are quoted in Paul Werlizkin's report "Trudeau victory may bolster chances for FTA with China" published in the China Daily on October 21, 2015:

I do expect that Canada will ratify the TPP under the Trudeau government.  I would imagine that Canada will further support Chinese entry into the TPP. Mr Trudeau is on record as supporting much more Chinese state investment in Canada to build Canadian prosperity. He believes that it is important to Canada's future prosperity to engage the Government of China as closely as possible and therefore will likely not emphasise human rights and security concerns to the same extent as the Harper government. I would therefore expect that under Justin Trudeau we may adopt a China policy similar to that of Great Britain.

Here are Paul's original questions and my answers by e-mail:
Will Trudeau's win change China-Canada relations and if so in what area (immigration, trade, investment etc.)?
While it is unlikely that the new Justin Trudeau government will have a different policy on Canada – China immigration, Mr Trudeau has been very clear that it will be a priority for his government to encourage much higher levels of Chinese trade and especially Chinese investment in Canada. I expect that early on his mandate he will direct the Canadian Government to very proactively respond to the suggestions of the Chinese authorities on how to make Canada a much more attractive investment venue for Chinese State enterprises seeking to invest abroad.

Are the Chinese relieved that the Harper government is out?
The Harper government put a lot of stress on human rights and allegations of espionage in its China policy. It is likely that the Government of China will be very happy to see a new Canadian Government that like the British Government will align itself more closely with China's foreign policy interests and priorities.

Does Trudeau's win improve the chances for a free trade agreement with China?
I am confident that a Trudeau Government will look very closely at the Government of China's proposal to establish a free trade agreement with Canada and that this will likely be realised before the next election four years from now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Raymond Chan and Justin Trudeau's relationship with Michael Ching Mo Yeung

"The courting of would-be Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, by Chinese corruption suspect Michael Ching Mo Yeung"

How graft suspect Michael Ching allied himself with Canada's Liberal leader, with the help of ex-minister Raymond Chan; pro-Trudeau political organisation was based in Ching's office, and Liberal special advisor Wang Ting Ting acted as a director.

Article in South China Morning Post by Ian Young

Monday, September 28, 2015

PC, Lib, NDP Perspectives on China in Munk Centre Foreign Policy Debate

So why did the Munk Centre decide to not raise China in the foreign policy debate?

My views are quoted in "The big issue that went unmentioned in the foreign policy debate" - The Globe and Mail:

“This debate was where it was expected the parties would make a clear statement of their differing approaches to the challenge China makes to Canadian interests and values,” said Charles Burton, a China expert at Brock University.
He accused debate organizers of not wanting “to be the platform where our important concerns about the challenge that the Chinese regime presents to Canada are aired.”

The key question is policy toward Chinese investment in Canada, and how to respond to Chinese Government human rights violations and non-tariff barriers to Canadian trade and investment, as well as continued Chinese cyber attacks on Canadian Government servers as well as other economic and military espionage.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

U.S. and China Seek Arms Deal for Cyberspace

U.S. and China Seek Arms Deal for Cyberspace

The word "sceptical" falls far short of my attitude to this.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

My Op-Ed "Who will march with China at Xi’s parade?" - The Globe and Mail

Who will march with China at Xi’s parade? - The Globe and Mail

"Any shortcomings of China’s governance will continue to be ascribed to the foreign-inspired moral failings of corrupted individual officials, not to any deficiencies in the political and economic system itself.

Over time, the regime’s response will most certainly be more sabre-rattling assertions of nationalism, to rally the public behind Mr. Xi’s leadership. Thursday’s parade could be just the beginning of a new era in Chinese Communist militarism."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Games of Thrones Discussions: John Batchelor, Charles Burton and Gordon Chang

坚定改革信心 保持定力和韧劲 / "A strange editorial in China's state-run newspaper is spelling trouble for Xi Jinping"


This does not bode at all well.

English language report in South China Morning Post
"A strange editorial in China's state-run newspaper is spelling trouble for Xi Jinping"

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Op-Ed "China learns it can’t control the laws of economics" - The Globe and Mail

China learns it can’t control the laws of economics - The Globe and Mail

"Economist Friedrich Hayek wrote, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” But Mr. Hayek was a champion of classical liberal economics, and China’s state capitalism operates quite differently. The bottom-line factor in China’s economic decline seems tied to the political, not economic, policies of Xi Jinping’s leadership since he became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012."

Lament 25 Years On

Lament 25 Years On

It has been 25 years since I left Ottawa to take up my current position at Brock University in St Catharines. I feel very grateful to Brock University for providing me with a stable platform for my work on China and relations between China and the West. Over these years most of my focus has been on matters pertaining to Ottawa and Beijing. At the same time I have tried to "pay back" Brock University in St. Catharines by being conscientious about teaching undergraduates and supervising graduate students and by participating in committee work in service to the Institution.

But reflecting over my life in these 3 places: St. Catharines, Ottawa and Beijing, I feel some degree of disappointment over how things have developed compared to my aspirations of a quarter century before.

With regard to Brock University in St Catharines: the decline in quality of education there is comparable to what has been happening at postsecondary institutions throughout the West, albeit things are arguably worse at Brock than most Canadian universities.
The bottom line is that my undergraduate class sizes have increased by a factor of 8 to 10. My students have little contact with me compared to the high degree of mentoring face-to-face that I was able to do with students in the early years of my career.
Part of it is is attributable the influence of technology. Students prefer to obtain information and interact with their professors via the internet. So they do not stop by my office or even pass through the doors of the University Library as they used to as a matter of course in the undergrad life of 25 years before.
Nowadays I frequently receive emails from students asking for letters of reference I would not recognise if I walked past them in the halls. They have no recourse but to approach me about this as so many of the courses are now taught by grossly underpaid contract instructors who cannot be found when it comes time to get letters of reference a couple of years later. The upshot is that I write a lot more letters of reference than I used to but have much less to say about the students I am ostensibly recommending.
The expansion of enrolment has naturally meant that many students now get in who would not have been considered intellectually qualified for tertiary education 25 years ago. It is disheartening to observe the average marks given out has not declined commensurately, but standards certainly have.
Over this period at Brock and most other universities in Ontario, there has been a massive increase in the proportion of non-teaching administrative personnel. These people largely have no sympathy with scholarship as an inherent good. They could just as well be working for a municipal government or in the human resources department of a business corporation. The professors are perceived by them as "service providers" and therefore we are subject to many humiliations by these people that would have been unthinkable in years past. Morale among the scholars in the Academy is much lower than it was 25 years ago as a consequence.
But to end on a positive note, thanks to the internet research has been enormously facilitated. 25 years ago I would frequently take carloads of graduate students to the Robarts Library in Toronto where we would furiously photocopy articles from scholarly journals for several hours before a late dinner in Chinatown and long drive home. Today with a few clicks of a mouse the materials I need to do my work perfectly reproduced on my computer screen. My scholarly productivity and the quality of my output has increased considerably as a consequence.

With regard to Ottawa's Approach to China: while the suppression of the Tiananmen democracy movement was still the dominant factor in Canada China relations 25 years ago there was still a great deal of optimism that China was moving towards democratic governance and wholehearted integration into international regimes such as the UN and WTO. This would be of enormous importance to Canada in years ahead. It was therefore incumbent on the Government of Canada to significantly strengthen our capacity to engage China substantively and meaningfully.
On the positive side, compared to when I was sent to the Canadian Embassy on my first posting as "Post Sinologist" and Head of the Cultural and Scientific Affairs Section, there are now some diplomats posted to China who have been there earlier in their careers and so have developed some expertise in the ins and outs of Canada-China relations.
But we are still sending people to Beijing after a very expensive two years of language training in Ottawa. While in China they cannot fluently read a Chinese newspaper or understand the Chinese TV news much less read diplomatic correspondence or engage with Chinese officials without interpretation. This is in rather severe contrast to the level of linguistic expertise and cultural knowledge of the people that China sends to its Embassy in Ottawa.
Moreover the problem of Chinese regime influence over Canadian politicians, civil servants and others is largely unaddressed. But former foreign ministers, ambassadors and more junior diplomats seem to end up on lucrative boards of directors and have other involvements that are directly or indirectly funded by Chinese state sources on retirement. How this possibility may consciously or unconsciously affect their decisions on China files is an open question.
But we have signed agreements with China that seem to largely favour the Chinese side on foreign investment protection, allowing Chinese police to come to Canada to investigate allegedly corrupt Chinese exiles here without reciprocity and so on. But we make little progress on "political" consular cases important to us such as Burlington's Huseyin Celil or Kevin Garratt from Vancouver.
Another area of concern that has not been addressed is the weak legislation that has Canada has to prosecute persons who have transferred Canadian classified information and technologies (such as related to military weaponry) to agents of a foreign power. As a result the USA and other Western nations are sending people trafficking secrets to China away for long prison terms at rates of dozens a year. But Canada has failed to bring a single alleged perpetrator of this kind of serious criminal betrayal of Canada to justice as the RCMP has to date been able to satisfy the Canadian Department of Justice that it has enough evidence to make a viable case that can be successfully prosecuted under the current legislation.
Basically Canada is not as effective in our relations with China as we could be. We have not sent strong political appointments to Beijing as we have done to other nations important to Canada. Our commitment to engage better with China in future remains a low priority for Government.

With regard to Beijing's domestic politics: When China's policies of opening and reform were announced in 1978 I was a student living at Fudan University in Shanghai. There was great optimism for the future and enthusiasm to be a part of it among my Chinese dorm-mates in those years. There was confidence among my table mates in the University canteen that we would complete the work of the intellectuals of the May 4, 1919 movement and finally bring science and democracy and freedom to mainland China. I got very caught up in this myself.
The mid-80s movements against "bourgeois liberalisation" and Western "spiritual pollution" and against humanism did worry me that the reform and opening might fail.
But the 1989 Tiananmen movement despite its tragic suppression encouraged me that the Chinese people yearn for the entitlements of citizenship, human rights, freedom from patriarchal authoritarianism.
By the late 90s there were the beginnings of democratic elections with universal suffrage at the village level, increasing suggestions that China would legitimise civil society, China's signing of the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and and shortly thereafter China's successful accession to the WTO.
Unfortunately under Xi Jinping civil society is being ruthlessly suppressed, ethnic minorities subject to harsh assimilationist measure, activist lawyers imprisoned and the norms of liberal democracy explicitly denounced as inconsistent with the maintenance of the dominant authority of the Chinese Communist Party.
China's political future has become disquieting uncertain.
I wonder if all of my years and years of close collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Central Party School on policy issues have been for naught in the end.
I am really disappointed with the way things are going in China now. I am heading towards the age when people start retiring. I have been working on Chinese politics more or less full-time since I was a teenager. In many ways the current crop of leaders, so cynical as they are, cause me even more despair than all their predecessors.

God willing, I expect to be able to be professionally active for another 15 years or so. I do hope that by then I can look back with some satisfaction that the things that I hold dear in Canada and China will be in much better condition than I find them today.
That being said the happy and deeply meaningful memories of my family and many close friends in China at least will remain to be cherished.
Yes, I feel some disappointment over how things have gone these 25 years. But overall, I have few regrets.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

My Op-Ed "Taking stock of the Chinese stock market slide" in today's Globe and Mail

My Op-Ed "Taking stock of the Chinese stock market slide" in today's Globe and Mail:

"The larger question relates to the implications for the Communist Party rule in general. When China’s stock markets were booming, the Communist media celebrated this as a sign of the superiority of the country’s authoritarian state capitalist model of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” But when things are going very wrong, it is the party that is seen as accountable for the consequences."

My views on the Chinese stock market are quoted in Nathan Vanderklippe's report "China’s investors fear leaders ‘cannot control’ swoon" also in today's Globe and Mail:

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Another case wherein China will not return a citizen who has fled abroad

It appears much the same as the circumstances of the Ang Li murder of Amanda Zhao in Burnaby a few years back.  The murderer fled to China and our request that he be returned to Canada to face Canadian justice was rebuffed.

The young victim has such an open and honest face in the photo --- such a tragedy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The murky world of Chinese influence - My Op-Ed in The Globe and Mail

The murky world of Chinese influence - The Globe and Mail

Canadian officials and politicians who favour closer economic relations with China – playing down concerns about human rights, espionage, unfair trade practices, support for repressive Third World regimes and so on – have generally not been of Chinese origin. It’s troubling that many of these same people, after they leave politics, end up making serious money in China-related trade or lucrative China-related board of directors’ appointments. This most recently applies to Mr. Baird himself and very much so to his predecessor David Emerson, but also to former prime ministers, former Canadian ambassadors to China and many others, of all political stripes. Chinese money is seemingly welcomed almost everywhere in Canada, but it inevitably comes with strings attached: expectations of reciprocal “friendship” that lead back to the Chinese Communists and their ever-more influential global business conglomerates headquartered in Beijing.

It appeared in the Globe and Mail print edition on June 18, 2015

Much the same content in a video interview broadcast on

Monday, June 15, 2015

House of Commons Committees - FAAE (41-2) - Hong Kong's Democratic Future - Report Recommendations

House of Commons Committees - FAAE (41-2) - Hong Kong's Democratic Future - Report

Recommendation 1: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada state its support for the democratic aspirations of Hong Kong people, including the need for genuine universal suffrage in the election of their political leaders.

Recommendation 2: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada reiterate its support for the 'one country, two systems' principle, and for the 1984 Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong.

Recommendation 3: The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada encourage dialogue that can lead to governance reforms in Hong Kong that are broadly accepted by all concerned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Report in Globe and Mail highlighting inadequacy of Canadian legislation re: industrial espionage

"Canadian observers say the 32-count indictment, which was unsealed late on Monday, highlights the prevalence and severity of industrial espionage in North America, and underscores the need for Canada to adopt more stringent laws. Canada has no dedicated act on trade secrets and economic espionage and has not successfully prosecuted a similar case, experts say."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Some of Charles Burton's Responses to Questions from Commons Foreign Affairs C'tee on Hong Kong

    If we do nothing and take the attitude that China is a very large country, Hong Kong is a small place, and our interest is in keeping the Chinese Communist regime happy so that it won't interfere with our trade, that would be exactly what the Chinese government would hope would happen, that we would simply sacrifice Hong Kong to the greater good to Canada of other aspects in the relationship with China.
    I would argue that this sort of irresponsible non-response by us would have the opposite effect, because we would lose respect from the Government of China. We could expect them to be pushing the envelope more in areas of concern to us, such as the consular case of Kevin Garratt, cyber-espionage in Canada, and unfair trade arrangements that do concern us now.

    It's clear that China has serious economic interests in Canada, in the energy and mineral sector, and that these political issues will not damage the overall Chinese interest in getting what Canada has to offer as a stable supplier of energy and minerals products. I think a lot of it is rhetoric designed to try to cow the Government of Canada into not speaking out on our concerns over allegations of serious human rights abuses in China.

    Up to now, I don't think any relationship has been established between Canadian statements and our economic or other interests in China. I actually did a study of this, looking at the statistics to see, for example, if we were doing better with China on trade under the Chrétien period of quiet diplomacy on human rights, and I could not find any relationship. In fact, our market share in China increased under Mr. Harper after he made his statements about not selling out our values to the almighty dollar.

    In general, our expectation is that the Chinese government should be respecting international agreements that are made, and that would extend to the WTO and all the international agreements that China has ascribed to.
    I think there is a tendency of the Government of China to push the envelope beyond the normal range for interpretation of these agreements, and I think that we should be making it clear that we are not going to stand idly by and let that happen. With regard to article 45, raised by Mr. Garneau, it's the same sort of thing. There is no question that when the Government of China and the Government of Britain were representing to the Government of Canada how this thing was going to pan out, it was not going to be a sham election in 2017 but an election where Hong Kong people would be able to freely elect representatives of the aspirations of the people in Hong Kong so that they could maintain the character of Hong Kong and the existing laws and practices, including freedom of speech and freedom of expression, until the 50 years were over. That's the way we understood it, and that's the way it was represented to us by the Chinese.
    Do Hong Kong people who are claiming that they support the agreement genuinely want to see their human rights limited? How many people want their Internet access limited? How many members of the Roman Catholic Church would like to see the Roman Catholic Church become an illegal organization, as it is in the People's Republic of China, where they won't recognize the authority of a foreign figure, the Pope, and have to belong to something called the Catholic Patriotic Association?
    People yearn to enjoy the benefits of citizenship and to be free, and I think that this is what we want to preserve in Hong Kong, because we can. In terms of China, we don't have an international agreement that compels the Chinese government to treat its people in any particular way beyond the normal expectations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but its sovereignty over Hong Kong is limited by the joint declaration. We endorse that declaration, and if we don't hold them to it, the Chinese government will continue accordingly in its relations with Canada, which is that we don't expect them to maintain the promises they make to us.

House of Commons Committees - FAAE (41-2) - Evidence - Number 058 Situation in Hong Kong including my evidence

House of Commons Committees - FAAE (41-2) - Evidence - Number 058

Situation in Hong Kong including my evidence

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Burton - Presentation to the Foreign Affairs Committee - May 5, 2015

Charles Burton
Presentation to the Foreign Affairs Committee
May 5, 2015

Thank you very much for inviting me to appear today to give evidence on the situation in Hong Kong.

Let me first provide some context based on my knowledge of Canada's interaction with the Government of China and the British Embassy in Beijing with regard to the arrangements being made made for Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty when I served as a diplomat at the Canadian Embassy to China on my first posting in the early 1990s.

Canada was quite engaged with this matter largely due to 2 major factors.

First of all, the Chinese community in Canada was very concerned about what would happen in Hong Kong after 1997. At the time the Chinese community in Canada consisted largely of Cantonese speaking Canadians most of whom had connections with Hong Kong.

As a result of the political uncertainty we had very high levels of immigration from Hong Kong to Canada in the years leading up to 1997.

According to the website of our Canadian Consulate General (and I quote) “Hong Kong boasts one of the largest Canadian communities abroad (an estimated 295,000). This community, along with some 500,000 people of Hong Kong descent in Canada, plays a dynamic role in building vibrant bilateral relations.”

There are estimates that place the numbers of Canadians in Hong Kong even higher.
I would say as an aside that if the current crackdown on civic liberties in Hong Kong continues we could see a large number of people leaving Hong Kong to resume residency in Canada.

And if things continue to deteriorate there we could have quite a significant increase in the number of consular cases involving Canadians in Hong Kong.

Secondly, at that time when the issue of Hong Kong’s future was in question, much of Canada's trade with China was brokered through Hong Kong. Canadian companies that did business in China typically had their headquarters in Hong Kong in those years.

So it was really very important to Canada that the transition to Chinese sovereignty be done in such a way as to protect our significant economic interests there.

We sought and received assurances from both the government of the People's Republic of China and the government of the United Kingdom over the promises of “one country-two systems” “no change for 50 years” and that “Hong Kong people would govern Hong Kong”.

With regard to the last it was clear that this meant that Hong Kong would be governed by Hong Kong people who would represent the aspirations and interests of the people of Hong Kong.

There was absolutely no indication that this would mean that the citizens of Hong Kong would be told in effect “you can elect whoever you want providing it is either Tweedledum or Tweedledee, both of whom would be representing the interests of the Chinese Communist Party and its business elite in Hong Kong” rather than the other way round.

We had good feelings about the 50 years no change formula. We understood from statements by Mr Deng Xiaoping and his successors that China intended to make a political transformation to modern norms of democracy and the rule of law.

So we were expecting that the “one country, two systems” issue would be resolved by China gradually coming into compliance with international noms of governance.

Indeed, over the period of the negotations on Hong Kong there were strong indications that this was happening already

For example, in the early 1990s China began to have free and democratic elections of village heads. We expected that this would expand upwards in a staged way to county heads provincial governors and ultimately a universal suffrage election for the President of China.

Moreover in 1998 China signed the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Canada was immediately very forthcoming with offers of developmental aid to assist the Chinese authorities in bringing Chinese law and practices into compliance with this Covenant and with assistance in how to fulfil the relevant UN reporting requirements

Indeed up until 2012 the Chinese leadership still gave periodic assurances that democratic political institutions and full rule of law were social goals, although the leaders always added the caveat that these could not be fully realised immediately due to historical, cultural and developmental factors.

So we were told should wait patiently until the moment came. That was a lot of waiting, needless to say.

But after he assumed power late in 2012, the current leader. President Xi Jinping made a series of statements strongly and explicitly renouncing key political ideals such as constitutionalism; freedom of the press, speech and assembly; judicial independence; and separation of powers as incompatible with sustained Communist Party rule in China.

One of the Party’s official newspapers the Global Times newspaper has condemned these "a ticket to hell” for China.

So I would see the recent backtracking on Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong and the fraying promise of 50 years no change as connected to this new political orientation of the Chinese Communist Party.

So where does that leave Canada?

It is clear that the Chinese government sovereignty over Hong Kong is conditioned by its international agreements comprised by the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.

I would therefore suggest that the Government of Canada take the lead with like-minded nations informally monitoring China's compliance with the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. It is very much in Canada's national interest to do this

Finally I would say in general that it would be prudent for Canada to respond to the Government of China's discarding of its commitment to democracy and human rights (as we understand those terms) and the moving backwards on legal protections for site Chinese citizens

by readjusting our 3 part foreign policy mix of realising Canadian prosperity, security and Canadian values in our programming with China to re-emphasise our commitment to Canadian values,

while strengthening our programming with China to promote trade and investment and to address Chinese espionage in Canada.

We are perceived as offering tacit consent for what it is happening in Hong Kong and in China at large by not speaking out and following up what we say with constructive programming.

I do not think that this will have a significant impact on our trade with China if we manage it correctly. And Canada is strengthened in our foreign relations if we gain us more respect by being true to what we believe.

Ministers Baird and Paradis noted last December 10 in their statement to mark Human Rights Day “Canada stands for what is right and just, regardless of whether it is popular, convenient or expedient.”

I believe that the people of Canada expect nothing less from us.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

China’s Tensions With Dalai Lama Spill Into the Afterlife -

China’s Tensions With Dalai Lama Spill Into the Afterlife -

"Zhu Weiqun, a Communist Party official who has long dealt with Tibetan issues, told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that the Dalai Lama had, essentially, no say over whether he was reincarnated. That was ultimately for the Chinese government to decide, he said."

Comment: Well I certainly would not want the Chinese Communist Party having any say on what happens to me after I die! I prefer to trust in the Grace of God.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Monday, March 02, 2015

More on Baird and China

My views on the role John Baird has played in Canada’ relations with China are quoted in Craig Offman's report "Ottawa’s diplomatic approach to China naive, says former ambassador"  published in the Globe and Mail this morning:

Let me expand on my thinking here:

In May 2011, the Prime Minister appointed  one of his most trusted and powerful members of Cabinet, John Baird,  as Minister of Foreign Affairs in his first majority government Cabinet.  This appointment was seen as a sign that the Government would be putting considerably enhanced emphasis on its “principled foreign policy” after achieving a majority government.  And indeed Mr. Baird showed remarkable vigour, enthusiasm and genuineness in carrying out this role until he announced his resignation to Parliament last month.

When John Baird chose China for his first official visit as Foreign Affairs Minister, it sent out a strong signal that the Government would finally become much more assertive in pursuing Canada’s interests in the Asia-Pacific.  Baird had indicated to the media that he “gets it” that enhanced relations with China are critically important to Canada’s future economic prosperity.

But to the disappointment of many, Mr. Baird did not publicly raise human rights concerns while in China that trip nor did he make any public reiteration of Canada’s condemnation of China’s support for brutal authoritarian regimes in the Third World.  Indeed he bent over backwards to affirm the PRC regime by publicly referring to China as a “friend” and “an important ally” of Canada.  In this way he categorized China’s Communist repressive one-Party non-democratic state as  in the same terms as those nations that share our values and perspectives on international politics such as Britain, France and the United States.  So much for “principled foreign policy” with China.

Indeed since Mr. Baird became Foreign Minister, Canada has shown undue weakness in our interactions with China.

The context for this has been that Government of China under its new leader Xi Jinping has become the most repressive since the end of the horrendous and disastrous Communist Party policy of the “Proletarian Cultural Revolution” 35 years ago.  In addition to considerably enhanced censorship of all media and the internet, and an associated campaign of suppression of “western influences” in China, new measures to make foreign business operations in China less competitive in that market have been implemented.  Moreover currently China is undergoing a close to unprecedented factional purge  of those that oppose Mr. Xi’s leadership in the military, security apparatus and among senior elements associated with his predecessor, Hu Jintao, by investigating them in a secret process internal to the Party for “corruption.”  As there seems to be no Chinese Communist official whose lifestyle is anyway compatible with his official salary, this is an effective device to remove political challengers from contention in China.  For example Mr. Xi received a 62% pay rise last month bringing his take-home pay to $22,256 a year.  Nevertheless he had sent his daughter to study at Harvard paying fees that would exceed his stated income (and clearly untroubled by the impact of “western influences” on her).  But Xi Jinping is not purging himself from the Communist Party as a consequence.

Remarkably, Canada has agreed to a pact with China that will cover “the return of property related to people who would have fled to Canada and would have been involved in corrupt activities”, as Canada’s ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, announced it in an interview with the China Daily.  So China’s “foxhunt” purge anti-graft campaign will extend to our shores with Canadian collaboration.  But we will have to take the Communist Party’s word on whose bank deposits and houses and businesses we will be handing over to Beijing.  Canada cannot obtain any assurance of support of due process of law in the Chinese Government’s claims under this pact as that is not available in China’s unitary system with no independent impartial judiciary.

This was followed hard by the treaty Canada signed with China late last year to exchange information on Customs investigations.  This one seems a particularly wrong-headed international treaty for us considering that China’s state enterprises are evidently behind much illegal export of Canadian classified and proprietary technology in the military and commercial sectors. So why do we want to give the Chinese state a heads-up on our interdiction methods all the better for them to figure out how to evade them?

Both of these recent agreements signed under Mr. Baird’s watch 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 bilateral agreements with China.

Mr. Baird was a member of the group in the Harper cabinet (along with Ed Fast and Joe Oliver) who lobbied for more Chinese state investment in Canada, seeing as the promotion of Canada’s prosperity as the primary interest in relations with China.  Others such as Jason Kenney, Peter MacKay and James Moore give more relative priority to the protection of Canada’s security and Canadian values in our interactions with the Government of China.  So while the PM and Mr Kenney met with the Dalai Lama when he came to Canada in 2012, Mr. Baird did not.

But in fact over the period that Mr. Baird was Foreign Minister our economic relations with China remain much biased in China’s favour due to the severe restrictions on foreign involvement in China’s economy imposed by China’s government; difficulties not resolved by our recently ratified Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement. Chinese cyber and economic and military espionage Canada remains a very serious threat to Canada’s security.  China’s human rights violations including against Tibetans and Uyghurs, human rights defender lawyers and proponents of liberal democratic norms of governance in China have become worse not better under the leadership of Xi Jinping.  The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, remains incommunicado in a Chinese prison.

We all wish Mr. Baird well in his retirement from politics.  But the bottom line is that he was not strong enough nor principled enough in his approach to Canada’s relations with China.

But Mr. Baird’s unexpected resignation does offer an opportunity to Canada to re-think how best to realize Canadian interests in an emerging China.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Chinese Foreign Ministry Statement on Kevin and Julia Garratt with My Comment

Q: Canadian citizens Kevin Garratt and Julia Garratt are detained in China on suspicion of stealing state secrets. What is China's comment on this?

A: Suspected of getting involved in activities that undermine China's national security, Kevin Garratt and Julia Garratt have been put under residential surveillance by the national security agency of Dandong, Liaoning Province of China starting from August 4, 2014. In alignment with relevant laws and regulations of China, the national security agency of Dandong, Liaoning Province held Kevin Garratt in criminal detention for suspected theft of and prying into state secrets and released Julia Garratt from custody on bail on February 3, 2015. Relevant authorities of China will deal with this case and ensure the rights and interests of people concerned in accordance with the law. The case is still under investigation at the moment.

My comment:
It would have been easier to have extracted the Garratts when they were still being interrogated.  Now that evidently a determination has been made to proceed against them, the "trial" will certainly be an abysmal formality.  A Chinese tribunal finding them innocent at this stage would be unprecedented.
I wish that Mr. Baird had shown more fibre in his dealings with the PRC.
I am grievously concerned about the Garratts.

Situation of Kevin and Julia Garratt Deteriorating

China detains Canadian on suspicion of stealing state secrets | Daily Mail Online

Now that John Baird is no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs I do hope that Canada will adopt a more aggressive approach to getting due process of law to apply to these Canadians innocently caught up in an amoral geopolitical game.

Monday, February 02, 2015

"Canada's China policy under the Harper government" my article in Canadian Foreign Policy

My article  "Canada's China policy under the Harper government," published in the new issue of the journal Canadian Foreign Policy, is now available on-line.

I am allowed to give away 50 free links to it.

Anyone who who like one, please let me know:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Another DPRK Defector "Improves" on the Truth of His Experience

NYTimes: Prominent North Korean Defector Recants Parts of His Story of Captivity

Unfortunately DPRK defector accounts are typically distorted and exaggerated. Why they are inclined to improve on the truth is intriguing in and of itself.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Very bleak take on Xi Jinping's "Stalinist Purge" Published in New York Times by Murong Xuecun

"But in Mr. Xi’s former fiefdoms — before attaining national power he held office in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces — as best I can tell not one official above the deputy provincial level has been arrested for corruption. Recently the question was raised in a post on the Internet: Why have no 'big tigers' been found in Fujian and Zhejiang? The message was almost immediately deleted."

Xi’s Selective Punishment  Very bleak take on Xi Jinping's "Stalinist Purge"

Monday, January 12, 2015

John Baird's Remarks on Garratts and Future of Canada-China Relations Reported in Chinese Language Media

Below is my rough translation of a report in the World Journal by 費詩明 dated Toronto January 10, 2015.
The Chinese original text can be found at

Baird: Expects that China Will Start to Offer 10 Year Visas

At an event in Markham Federal Ministry of Foreign affairs John Baird indicated that the arrangements for a visit of a senior Chinese government official to Canada are still being negotiated. At this time he has no information to announce about this. The federal government very much hopes that the Government of China will be able to start to offer a 10 year visa for Canadian citizens. This will convenience visits by family members between the two nations. And will also make bilateral exchanges easier.

Mr Baird indicated that the visit to China in November of last year was most successful. Especially that Toronto became the first renminbi exchange centre in North America. This has been a win-win for Canada. He said that senior officials of Canada and China are in constant contact. Last week cat an activity in Latin America he had a brief meeting with China's vice president Li Yuanchao. At that meeting the two sides deepened the development of relations.

With regard to the case of Canadian citizens Kevin Garratt and Julia Dawn Garratt accused of stealing Chinese secrets, they still remain in custody. Mr. Baird indicated that there has been no progress on this matter, but the Government of Canada will continue to pay close attention to it, and give assistance and apply pressure as required.

The Government of China has already offered a 10 year visa for citizens of the United States. Several local Chinese community organisations have signed a joint petition in the hope that the Government of Canada will put pressure on the Government of China to extend a 10 year visa to Canadian citizens as well. Baird indicated yesterday that the Federal Government also hopes that China, with the shortest possible delay, will extend a 10 year visa for Canadian citizens. This will not only be of benefit to visits by family members. It will also assist economic leaders in exchanging visits and it will simplify the complicated procedures involving going abroad to renew Chinese visas.