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 Chr├ętien 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