Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Opinion piece in the Globe and Mail: "Enlisting Beijing to help stop fentanyl exports won’t be easy"


"For students of Chinese history, there’s irony in Canada’s demand on moral grounds that China suppress the export of a synthetic opioid. In the 19th century, opium addiction in China was rampant, and the opium was almost entirely imported into China from British India. In response, China implemented the world’s earliest drug laws, making the sale, import and consumption of opium illegal."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Prime Minister’s private meetings with China

When CSIS Director Michel Coulombe appeared before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence earlier this year, his briefing notes raised serious concerns about China targeting Canada’s “government officials and systems.”

Now we have news reports emerging that Justin Trudeau attended a cash-for-access event last May at the Toronto mansion of a Chinese-Canadian executive (‘Trudeau attended fundraiser with Chinese billionaires’; Globe and Mail, Nov. 22). Was our own prime minister one of the government officials the CSIS boss was referring to?

Attendees at the Toronto fundraiser reportedly included citizens of the People’s Republic of China, who by Canadian law cannot donate funds to Canadian political parties. Apparently this sufficiently concerned a senior Liberal Party official that photos from the event were anonymously passed to the press in a plain brown envelope.  

The Prime Minister’s official itinerary for May 19 reads “private meetings.” At the private event, the flag of China was displayed alongside that of Canada, and the guest list included senior officials of Chinese state institutions, Chinese billionaires with serious money to invest, and people involved in an application to establish the Wealth One Bank of Canada, whose purpose is given as “to serve Chinese people (huaren).”

Zhang Bin, a Chinese citizen who facilitated a $1-million donation to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (including funds to be used to erect a statue of the Prime Minister’s father) was also present.

One consequence of Donald Trump’s election as US president will be more opportunities for China's Communist regime to expand its influence with the Government of Canada. It is very likely that Mr. Trump will enact measures early in his term that will negatively impact Canada’s economy by restricting our access to US markets.  If our economy sputters because of Mr. Trump’s isolationist policy, Ottawa will look hard at other foreign partners to make up for lost growth. Chinese state investment will be waiting, and with their negotiating position much improved thanks to Mr. Trump, Beijing will undoubtedly seek to exact a political price that Canada has until now not been prepared to pay.

What this means is that, to get Chinese state investment, Canada must not “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” (the standard Chinese regime phrase) by standing up for humans rights of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, ethnic minorities in China and human rights defence lawyers in China, many of whom are in prison on trumped-up charges. They will also want Ottawa to deport back to China any Chinese nationals who are in Canada for political or economic exile, so they can face Chinese justice, no questions asked.

In addition, the Liberals will be pressured to remove the Harper Government’s restrictions on Chinese state investment holding majority control of companies operating in oil and mining sectors. And, of course, this only works for the Chinese state if Ottawa authorizes construction of an oil pipeline to the B.C. coast, where Chinese tankers will access the port facilities.  

It appears our Government is already preparing to accede to Beijing in all these areas.

Public opinion polls indicate that most Canadians want Ottawa to effectively engage the China on human rights concerns, and are opposed to Chinese state control of critical elements of Canada’s economy. (This of course is not reciprocal, as Beijing would never allow comparable Canadian investment in China.) Canadians are also skeptical about Chinese state firms’ compliance with our environmental and labour standards.

So the question is, why are meetings attended by our Prime Minister — where the Chinese flag is displayed, and Justin Trudeau engages in high spirits with senior people associated with the Chinese regime — vaguely listed as “private meetings”?  

Canadians should be given transparency as our leaders ponder an enormously significant political and economic re-orientation to the much more strategically powerful China.  

Free trade with China will be next on the agenda. But on what terms?

Canadians deserve a full and open accounting before our Government signs on any bottom line.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Remarks to Panel “The Rise of Trumpism” Brock University 17NOV16

The Rise of Trumpism: what happened and what’s next?

The election of Donald Trump to the US presidency was unexpected by most professors of political science — in the United States from Berkeley to Columbia, and indeed in Canada from our McGill to York to UBC. It was unexpected by professors here at Brock too. To them it seems incomprehensible that the American people have chosen as the leader of the free world a man they would characterize as a narcissistic boor whose rationality in discourse is overwhelmed by xenophobic  resentments, and whose frustrations express in racism and misogyny. 

These are the same people who were at a loss to explain how Rob Ford was popularly elected as mayor of Toronto. Nor could they comprehend how Mr Ford sustained very strong support among a significant fraction of residents of Toronto throughout his political career, despite successive revelations of what the media and political elites loudly declaimed as highly unacceptable disreputable behaviour on Mr. Ford’s part. 

But Rob Ford as a municipal leader was not in a position of as much authority as Donald Trump will be. Mayor Ford’s scope for destructive damage was much more constrained than President Trump’s will be. Mr. Ford had no access to the codes for setting off nuclear bombs or capacity to declare war on nations that offended him. But Mr. Trump will.

I have also been here long enough to have been party to the failure of Western political science to have anticipated the collapse of the Soviet Union and demise of the Marxist-Leninist dictatorships that dominated most of Eastern Europe up to the 1990s. We political scientists seem to be more perplexed and bewildered by game changing political change than able to anticipate and account for it.  

The response of so many seems to parallel the great German composer Felix Mendelssohn’s paraphrase of the Old Testament Psalm 55, “Hear My Prayer,” in which King David laments

“My heart is sorely pained, within my breast, 
my soul with deathly terror is oppressed, 
trembling and fearfulness up on me fall, 
with horror overwhelmed, Lord, hear me call!”

Well this does not make for very good social scientific analysis! So the larger question it raises is: “political science: what’s the good in it??”

It turns out that evidently illiberal populism is the preferred political option for close to half of the U.S. electorate. In my case I have dedicated most of my career to scholarly and government work on China and North Korea. So perhaps this makes me more sanguine about illiberal politics than most. After all the Government of North Korea issued a very strong endorsement of Mr. Trump’s candidacy early on in his campaign.  I don’t judge this had much impact on the outcome.  But it is no surprise that Mr. Trump is the favoured choice among authoritarian dictators from Asia to Africa to Latin America.

Our failure to predict the strong appeal of Mr. Trump to a definitive element of the U.S. population leads all the more to questioning political science here at Brock in St Catharines. After all we now know that most of Trump’s support comes from rural areas and smaller towns with a predominantly less educated blue collar population and higher than the national average unemployment rates. In other words, places like our Niagara.  

Similarly to these alienated parts of the USA we here in Niagara know well that we are not central to the awareness of the smug elites of Toronto, Montreal Ottawa and Vancouver. As someone who is sometimes invited to Ottawa to advise on Canada’s China policy, I realize this all the more. I have had this conversation many times: “Oh so you are at Brock University. You know I have passed through Brockville many times on the 401 but have never had a chance to visit your campus! .  . . Please let us know the next time you are back in Ottawa.” But the idea that they would ever have occasion to travel to St Catharines is certainly never a consideration.

And Niagara is culturally different from the more urban settings of Canada. For example our 19-year-old Brock University Political Science student Sam Oosterhoff from Vineland will likely become the next MPP from Niagara West-Glanbrook. Sam is a strong social conservative. A candidate with his conservative Christian values would be highly unlikely to succeed in Rosedale, Westmount-Outremont or Ottawa-Carleton.

Many of the Trump supporters are the collateral damage of the higher cause of globalization in the underclasses particularly in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio — once the proud industrial heartland of America. These are people who had been left behind by the revolutions in technology and globalization, the impact of resultant devastation much underappreciated from the privileged enclaves of the elites in Washington and New York. Donald Trump’s supporters are the dispossessed who yearn for a champion who will take strong measures to set things to rights. And dismantle a rigged system that they see as having been captured by effete elites. In many ways his rise is comparable to the military coups welcomed by the people in less democratic systems

The half of U.S. citizens who voted Trump are not unduly concerned by his racist, sexist and Islamophobic discourse or the critiques of those who point out the exaggerations and deceptive inaccuracies expounded by Mr. Trump. The bottom line is that social values transformation in the US rural areas has not kept pace with urban America.

I am old enough to remember the 1960s and 1970s when pervasive discrimination and racism was mainstream social realities.  

It was accepted as simply a function of the natural order that women would be subject to systemic discrimination that severely constrained their life options. 

Homosexuality was both taboo and illegal under the laws of Canada. 

Society had a hierarchy of white protestants at the top 
followed by Catholics 
followed by Jews 
followed by Chinese and Indians 
followed by blacks of all origins at the bottom. 

Bear in mind that it was only in 1947 that Canadians of Chinese origin were extended the right to vote in Canadian elections. 

Jokes based on denigration of women or homosexuals or  persons of colour was considered a high form of white male entertainment.

There was a popular American socially progressive TV program of the 1970s, "All in the Family " that satirized the values of the generation of blue collar workers that had grown up in the U.S. in the1930s. The theme song of this show was entitled "Those Were the Days. " Part of that song went:

“And you knew who you were then, 
Girls were girls and men were men, 
Mister we could use a man 
Like Herbert Hoover again. 

Didn't need no welfare state, 
Everybody pulled his weight. 
Guys like us we had it made, 
Those were the days”

So there is strong opposition among the Trump supporters to Obamacare as it is considered the road to more intrusions of the state into a free society.

But, more significantly, as Carol Anderson, a historian at Atlanta’s Emory University, put in her interview with Doug Saunders published in the Globe and Mail on Saturday: 
“You know, if you’ve always been privileged, equality begins to look like oppression. That’s part of what you’re seeing in terms of the [white] pessimism, particularly when the system gets defined as a zero-sum game – that you can only gain at somebody else’s loss.”

It is serious: Hilary Clinton only got 51% of college educated white women

The strong support in the U.S. for illiberal populist politics is not resolved by mobilizing all those who would vote against Trump to come out and fill out a ballot the next time. The sole route to resolution of this rising political force in America and throughout the Western world is to address the causes for the severe discontent of those who are so alienated from liberal values of social justice and tolerance of difference.

International impact
Once Mr. Trump assumes the presidency he will likely receive new information and advice that will lead President Trump to modify some of the positions that he espoused in the course of the election campaign and even abandon some of his more intemperate proposals. And who he chooses for key positions in US foreign policy leadership positions will have a strong impact

But it is fair to say that Trump will not support ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The U.S. will abandon commitment to measures to mitigate climate change. 

And tariffs will be imposed on imports from China, Mexico, Canada.

An isolationist America will likely lead to China being able to bring South Korea, Taiwan and the Southeast Asian nations into its geopolitical orbit.

It is all bad news for the prospects of democracy and human rights globally.

To maintain our Canadian prosperity if our economy suffers due to U.S. changing the terms of NAFTA, Canada will likely be more amenable to allowing Chinese state firms access to the Canadian energy and natural resources sectors and to develop infrastructure to get Canadian tar sands oil and minerals to the Canadian west coast for transhipment to Asia. But it would necessarily be on Chinese terms with illiberal political costs that Canada has not been willing to bear up to now.

Let me conclude by saying that 
In general I cannot see much in the way of prospect of positive consequences in the Trump presidency contributing to the building of a more just, peaceful and prosperous world.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

James Palmer "China Just Won The U.S. Election"


"Trump is also exactly the kind of businessman who is most easily taken in by China — credulous, focused on the externalities of wealth, and massively susceptible to flattery. A single trip, with Chinese laying on the charm, could leave him as fond of China’s strongmen as he is of Russia’s Putin."

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Ai Weiwei to west: tackle China on human rights whatever the cost


Western governments should challenge China on human rights and stand up for their principles, dissident artist Ai Weiwei has said – lamenting the repression faced by Chinese activists but declaring that Beijing’s “business partners” in the rest of the world should not fear making it worse.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

China’s plan to organize its society relies on ‘big data’ to rate everyone


 "Your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are — determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant — or even just get a date."

George Orwell's 1984 as a guide to policy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wang Jianlin, a Billionaire at the Intersection of Business and Power in China

Wang Jianlin, a Billionaire at the Intersection of Business and Power in China


Includes a chart showing connections to senior leadership in China

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Response to the Argument that Canada Should Address Our Aborignal Issues Before Raising Concerns Human Rights in China

Of course "our own situations with our own internal treatment of indigenous peoples who live in poverty, poor housing and on and on" are a national disgrace. China raises these often with us to try and establish a moral equivalence with their treatment of Tibetans and Uyghurs. In my experience as a diplomat in China with responsibility for the human rights file, this is not annoying to the Government of Canada as so you suggest, but welcomed to open diplomatic engagement on Canada's international obligations to indigenous people. But our First Nations enjoy the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They not subject to arbitrary arrest, and torture to force false confessions simply for standing up for their language, religious and civil rights.

By not speaking out in response to China's oppressive policies we give the Chinese regime tacit consent for their violations of international law as defined by the UN and earlier international bodies such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. Of course if the Chinese regime felt no guilt over their repressive policies against their own people to maintain their power and elite privilege, they would not lash out so emotionally and irrationally against these things being exposed to the light of the day abroad. It has to be abroad as their people live under severe internet censorship and knowledge that speaking truth to power leads to prison camp with no due process of Chinese law. We should give voice to the voiceless.

Standing idly by in the face of injustice is weak and shameful.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Opinion Piece "Where is Canada going with China now?" - The Globe and Mail

Where is Canada going with China now? - The Globe and Mail

As the Chinese ambassador put it in his speech to the Manitoba-International Business Forum, “the bond of friendship and co-operation between China and Canada has been growing stronger.” During his visit, the Premier “expressed the readiness of the Chinese government to work together with the new Canadian leadership in cultivating a richer and more substantive partnership of all round co-operation between the two countries.” He continued: “China and Canada should work together to bring their economic partnership to a higher level,” explaining “China is planning to import more from Canada” so as to “double the volume of two-way trade by 2010.”
Wait – did he say 2010?
Déjà vu all over again! That Manitoba speech was given in 2003 by previous Chinese ambassador Mei Ping, after Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Canada. Then, in 2005, President Hu Jintao came to Canada, and with Prime Minister Paul Martin jointly announced a China-Canada “strategic partnership,” again promising doubling of trade – this time in just five years. (In fact, due to the global economic crisis of 2008, trade levels briefly actually dipped.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ottawa to negotiate extradition treaty with China - The Globe and Mail

Ottawa to negotiate extradition treaty with China - The Globe and Mail

Mr. Burton said the federal Justice Department has argued against Canada signing an extradition treaty, even if there is evidence that some of the fugitives that China is seeking are engaged in criminal activities.
“We don’t have an extradition treaty with China for fairly clear reasons. The rules of evidence are not the same there. There are reports of death sentences for white-collar crime and pervasive evidence of torture in interrogation,” Mr. Burton said.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

CBC Power and Politics - My interview on Kevin Garratt's release

Power and Politics - CBC Player

Rosemary Barton's interview with me starts at about 3 minutes in.

My Opinion piece in The Globe and Mail "Garratt’s release a win for Canada – and China"

Garratt’s release a win for Canada – and China - The Globe and Mail

"It is clear that the Chinese government underestimated the degree of Canadian public outrage over Canadian citizens unjustly imprisoned in foreign lands for ill-defined political reasons. When Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Canada last June he insisted on a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a move that went beyond normal diplomatic protocol. At that 15 minute confab, Mr. Trudeau – rather than showing ritual deference to a senior representative of the Middle Kingdom – instead used the occasion to explain to Mr. Wang at length that Mr. Garratt’s continued imprisonment was severely constraining the possibilities for greater engagement, which China was expecting from the new Liberal government. One can understand why it was that when Mr. Garrett’s name was brought up again at a press conference shortly thereafter that Mr. Wang lost his composure and delivered the diatribe that has marked him forever as a diplomatic philistine."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton should step aside

My impression from looking at recent photos of Hillary Clinton in the new this morning is that she looks old and in poor health.  She should step aside from her candidacy in the interests of her nation. 

The Democrats need a younger candidate with less political baggage asap.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Does Canada’s openness for Chinese business, silence on the South China Sea, signal shift away from U.S.? | National Post

Does Canada’s openness for Chinese business, silence on the South China Sea, signal shift away from U.S.? | National Post

Not naming China publicly implies “tacit consent to what China is doing,” said Brock University’s Charles Burton.
“The U.S. will be highly concerned about Canada’s ever closer relationship to China,” he said, and neither candidate in its upcoming election will look kindly on Canada “not openly and firmly standing up for the (arbitration) decision.”
Burton connected the issue to Canada’s decision to join the AIIB, “against U.S. urging.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Opinion Piece in the Globe and Mail this Morning "Visit to China a tricky one for Trudeau"

Visit to China a tricky one for Trudeau - The Globe and Mail

"This file has never been easy. In the 1970s, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, in extraordinary naiveté, admired the Communist leaders of his time, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, as good and wise rulers dedicated to revolutionary social justice. This as millions of Chinese were being subject to torture in the name of Marxist ideological remoulding, with untold numbers left to die in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

By the 1990s, Mr. Chrétien reached out to Chinese Premier Li Peng – a key player in the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Movement – on the basis that economic engagement with the West would lead China to a democratic transition. To this end, he agreed to give tacit consent to China’s human rights violations by a “going-through-themotions” engagement of China on human rights behind closed doors.

Now, our Prime Minister wants to build a new relationship on a palatable moral foundation. Unfortunately for China’s Communist Party under General Secretary Xi Jinping, the democracy and human rights train has left the station and won’t be coming back on his watch."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Interview on Radio Canada International Today "PM’s China visit amid growing concern over canola and South China Sea"

PM’s China visit amid growing concern over canola and South China Sea

“The Chinese government put a lot of stress on personal relations and Justin Trudeau is starting with a considerable advantage because of the legacy of his late father,” Burton says.
Following Justin Trudeau’s visit to China and the G20 Summit, Premier Li Keqiang, China’s second-highest-ranking leader, is scheduled to visit Canada in mid-September, for several days prior to the United Nations meetings in New York City, beginning September 19th."

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Comment on "Mother of pop star dating Vancouver mayor could face death penalty in China for allegedly embezzling $69M"

My heart aches with anger and compassion for the huge number of victims left in awful bad circumstances due to Chinese government cadres-business cronies scam.  But I don't support slanging Wanting Qu for it.  It is a super terrible situation all 'round.
The bottom line is that changes to ensure economic, political and judicial justice and address the systemic issues that inform this kind of large-scale tragedy repeating over and over need to be made in China sooner the better.

Friday, August 05, 2016

My Opinion Piece in the Globe and Mail "The driving force behind Beijing’s moves in the South China Sea"


China’s destabilization of the South China Sea indicates a deeper issue that goes to the fundamentals of the Communist Party People’s Republic régime. At its founding in 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong declared: “Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation. We have stood up!” The flow of this logic is “China’s civilization is ancient and great. China was weakened and is victimized by amoral Western forces. China will rise again and set things to rights.”

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Comment on "For Hong Kong ethnic Chinese, foreign passports offer no protection in China - The Globe and Mail"

For Hong Kong ethnic Chinese, foreign passports offer no protection in China - The Globe and Mail

"Canadian-born Chinese with Hong Kong parents, for example, have been told they are Chinese nationals and not allowed to travel to China on their Canadian passports, but must use a Chinese permit instead. The Diplomat magazine last month reported that Chinese visa authorities are demanding that 'Canadians of Chinese descent apply as Chinese nationals when travelling to China.'”

Comment:  The Government of Canada should be much more proactive in effectively responding to this discrimination against Canadians on ethnic basis and the denial of their right to consular protection.  If China will not respond Canada should retaliate.

Monday, August 01, 2016

British Decision on Nuclear Plant Angers China and France

Mrs. May told Mr. Hollande that her new government wanted to look at the deal again, as any new government would. But since then it has become clear that her main concerns are with the Chinese involvement, and she seemed to be signaling an end to the British willingness to be China’s best Western ally in return for Chinese investment.


Monday, July 25, 2016

"How nice to see you again, Mr. Wang"???

@ChinaEmbOttawa) July 25, 2016

Foreign Affairs Min Wang Yi meets w/ @MinCanadaFA Stéphane Dion on the sidelines of ASEAN & EAS events in Laos.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Vancouver Resident Chinese Spy Su Bin Sentenced

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied any involvement in hacking, but Mr. Su’s cyber-espionage efforts have been lauded by state-controlled media in China.
“On the secret battlefield without gunpowder, China needs special agents to gather secrets from the U.S. As for Su, be he recruited by the Chinese government or driven by economic benefits, we should give him credit for what he is doing for the country,” said a March editorial in the Global Times, a publication with significant ties to the ruling Communist Party.
The editorial was headlined: “Su Bin deserves respect whether guilty or innocent.”

Friday, July 08, 2016

Canada Should Be Careful with Li Keqiang Visit in September

An editorial published in the Wall Street Journal July 5 (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-xi-jinping-ascendancy-1467748121) is predicting the possible "removal of Premier Li Keqiang, the one Hu ally on the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the pinnacle of Chinese politics."  Mr. Li is scheduled to visit Canada in September.

This Li visit could therefore become a replay of the fiasco of Prime Minister Harper's going to Chongqing to "build relations" with Bo Xilai as Bo's purge was already in process.  The Canadian Prime Minister was the last foreign leader to be seen with Bo just prior to his arrest in 2012.

But a similar miscalculation on our part substituting a Premier of the State Council and more importantly a Standing Committee of the Politburo member as Mr. Li is could be a lot more damaging to Canada-China relations.

Chinese factional politics is a dangerous game.  Canada should take care not to become inadvertently drawn into it to our peril.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

China Refusing to Recognize Canadian Citizenship of Travellers


China expert Charles Burton, a professor at Brock University, said the move appears to be part of Beijing's attempt to tighten control globally to mute dissent against the ruling regime.

Burton pointed to a recent case of a Hong Kong bookseller with a Swedish passport who was arrested in Thailand and sent to China for "interrogation" as an example of Beijing's actions.

He said the reported policy would be in line with China's policy of considering anyone with Chinese heritage as subject to Beijing's authority.

"I think it does have a chilling effect on people of Chinese origin who felt that acquisition of foreign citizenship gave them a degree of protection," Burton said. "It goes against international law; it's part and parcel of China's refusal to acknowledge the authority of international regimes in general."

He said the policy could be considered discrimination because Beijing is issuing visas based solely on people's ethnicity.

Burton said Canada must raise the issue with China at the highest levels.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Conservative Commission and Chris Patten Urge Britain to Re-Think China Policy

"Fiona Bruce, chair of the commission, said: “Without exception, every submission to our inquiry detailed a severe deterioration in human rights in China since 2013 and revealed a situation which is the worst China has seen for many years, possibly since the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Witnesses told us that many recent developments were ‘unprecedented.'”"

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit will Negatively Impact China-EU Free Trade Negotiations

"Brexit could also mark a setback for China’s long-term goal of a free trade agreement with the EU. London had emerged as one of the most eager advocates for a China-EU FTA; with the U.K. now exiting the bloc, none of the other major EU states seem keen to ink a deal with Beijing. An FTA with the U.K. alone might be politically simpler to negotiate (assuming Cameron’s embrace of Beijing is also adopted by his replacement as prime minister), but won’t have nearly the same economic benefits for China."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Getting Serious About China FTA


"In 1985, when Canada entered into free-trade negotiations with the United States – a country that it knows intimately – it set up a separate “Trade Negotiations Office” that brought together the best and the brightest from across government. It selected Simon Reisman, an experienced deal maker and former top civil servant, to lead the talks. Mr. Reisman reported directly to the Prime Minister. His team was given almost unlimited access to resources.

In the end, pooling smart people and substantial resources made a significant difference. Superb preparatory work and creative negotiating tactics allowed Canada, against all odds, to win concessions in key areas, including disciplines on U.S. trade remedy measures."

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Sweeping the Tomb of Charlie Woo

The Chinese community in Niagara Falls celebrate the annual Chinese Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day) in June. In China the holiday falls in April on the 15th day of the Spring equinox. Families travel to their ancestors' graves to clean the sites, plant new flowers, pay respects and to offer food. But in Niagara Falls it's too cold to do this in April so they moved the festival to the first Sunday in June.

There are over 120 graves in the Fairview Cemetery in Niagara Falls that have been identified as Chinese workers who died as single men. So they have no family to sweep their tombs. This is because the 1885 Head Tax and 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act made it impossible for the early Chinese workers in Niagara Falls to marry. Seeing as they have no descendents, the local Niagara Chinese community has taken it upon themselves to act instead of family to celebrate the Tomb Sweeping Festival in memory of these childless Canadian Chinese. There are many more early period Chinese workers in Niagara whose earthly remains are unknown. Their tombs are never swept.

The Niagara Falls Chinese community is dwindling and aging. They need help with this work. So they asked for volunteers from the St Catharines Chinese Cultural Association to lend a hand. Even though I am not Chinese, I was educated in China. I have been a member of the board of the Chinese Cultural Association of Niagara for 10 years now. I am white and of Irish Protestant background. My Canadian ancestors were anti-semitic, racist Orangemen who would have fully supported the Head Tax and the ban on Chinese migration to Canada. I cringe with guilt thinking of it. Sweep the graves of the Chinese my people unjustly oppressed in our meanspirited ignorance? Count me in! How could I refuse?

So on the appointed day I arrived at the designated meeting point in the Fairview Cemetery marked in Chinese on the Cemetery map. I assembled a team of four. Myself, my wife who is ethnically Chinese, our 12 year-old son, and his friend Sean from Beijing. We were assigned 17 graves in Sectors three, four, and five of the Fairview Cemetery. For each grave we were issued one potted geranium to plant, one stick of incense to burn and lunch to share with the "ancestors." I'm advised it is a kind of food old old timey Chinese workers enjoyed: some roast pork, a chicken leg, two Chinese buns (one savoury, one sweet), and an orange. I put a few bills in the donation box to help out with costs for next year.

Our first grave is a small stone. At the top is the name "Charlie Woo." The rest of the information is in Chinese. I read it out to my son.  His name is Hu Zhenguan. He came from Chonglou, Taishan County, Guangdong. He was born in 1888. He died in 1939.

We spent about 10 minutes with Mr. Woo.  My team was in for a long morning to do all 17. We planted and watered Charlie Woo's geranium with reverence and lit his incense stick with some difficulty as it was raining lightly that morning.

I tried to imagine what Charlie Woo's life had been like. I suppose he likely worked long hours in bad conditions in a Chinese hand laundry or cheap Chinese restaurant catering to the Niagara Falls tourist trade. Was he very homesick for China over his years in Canada? Why did he die young at age 51? I suppose he lived in crowded and poor lodgings. Maybe it was untreated tuberculosis that killed him when his lungs gave out? How bad was it for him to realize that he would die a "bare branch" with no descendents?

I wonder what Mr. Woo would have thought about having a Mandarin speaking white man maintaining his grave, bowing to his memory and sharing his food offering on the Qingming Festival? Would he have understood how much deep regret I feel about the Head Tax and then the Exclusion Act imposed on him by my racist forebears? My bow was not just a bow of respect to the departed elder. It was a bow of deep apology for what my people did to Charlie Woo and the thousands like him.

I will be back next year to plan another geranium and burn your incense, Mr. Woo. I will try to be your filial grandson. Its the least we can do. But definitely not enough.

Friday, June 03, 2016

My Panel on CBC Power and Politics on Canada-China Relations today

Canada raised issue of China outburst - CBC Player

Comment on "China’s foreign minister demanded meeting with Justin Trudeau" - The Globe and Mail

China’s foreign minister demanded meeting with Justin Trudeau - The Globe and Mail

"Sources said the meeting was both a show of courtesy and an opportunity for Mr. Trudeau to raise the case of Kevin Garratt, a Canadian missionary who remains behind bars in China awaiting sentencing after being tried on charges of stealing state secrets. Mr. Trudeau wanted to tell Mr. Wang it would be difficult for Canada to embrace China’s hopes for a new so-called golden era if it continues to hold Mr. Garratt."

Based on my experience in the diplomatic service, I don't think it is too unusual for visiting officials to make a courtesy call on host country official one rank senior to them.  That being said in the Chinese system the Minister of Foreign Affairs is a relatively junior function as the key players are members of the Poliburo of the Chinese Communist Party.  Wang Yi is just a member of the Central Committee.

My Op Ed "A Chinese minister goes off script" - The Globe and Mail

A Chinese minister goes off script - The Globe and Mail

"The fact is, the discourse spouted by China’s Communist regime is severely at odds with the perceptive, informed social values of modern Chinese citizens.The credibility vacuum can be seen in the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly blames every sort of ill on “bourgeois Western ideology,” with its democracy and freedom of expression, but privately sends his daughter to university in the United States."

Thursday, June 02, 2016

My Opinion piece in today's paper "Trade with China never comes free" - The Globe and Mail

Trade with China never comes free - The Globe and Mail

Despite Mr. Trudeau’s intentions about straight talk on issues of concern, the truth is that China dictates “no-go” zones as the cost of its state investment. For example, Britain could renew relations with China only after agreeing to end high-level meetings with the Dalai Lama. No less will be demanded of Ottawa. Any Canadian talk about human rights, or China harassing people in Canada perceived to be hostile to the regime, or increasing cyberattacks and espionage, or Chinese expansion in the South China Sea, is dismissed by Beijing as, absurdly, “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people,” thereby disinclining state firms to trade and invest in Canada.

Then there is the alarming extent to which China has infiltrated Canada’s government and its bureaucracy, an issue raised by former CSIS director Richard Fadden in an interview with CBC’s As It Happens in April. Ottawa must address this threat with more seriousness of purpose.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Transcript of China Related Comments by Former Director of CSIS Broadcast on CBC "As It Happens" on April 4, 2016

Transcript of China Related Comments by Former Director of CSIS Broadcast on CBC "As It Happens" on April 4, 2016

Carol Off: I’m going to ask you what  I think what you are referring to as “the gotcha question” here.    And that is that you said that China is a very aggressive recruiter in Canada.  What did you mean?
Richard Fadden:  I think a lot of countries have a very different view of how they use the power of the state in order to advance their interest. I think a number of these countries, including the one you just mentioned, take the view that if they can advance their interests sometimes more covertly than overtly that's not a bad thing. We tend not to do that, we as Canadians, other countries do. I think it's generally recognized in the public domain, let alone in the world I used to work in, that they're very good at this and they do it quite systematically.
Carol Off: How widespread you think that is, recruiting people on the inside?
Richard Fadden: It depends what you mean by recruiting people on the inside.  I mean you can do this sort of thing through any number of ways starting from normal diplomatic discourse through the use of the media for encouraging people to develop friendly relations and you can also try and do it covertly.  Do I think that it's a massive problem in Canada that requires legislation and people shouting from the rooftops?  No I do not. What I do think we need to some degree is awareness of it, much like there is awareness of it in the United States.  They've been more upfront about it than we have been.
Carol Off: Do you think it represents a risk to Canadian interests?
Richard Fadden:  Sure, but a lot of things represent risks.  The key is to acknowledge it and to try and minimize it.  China's a great power.  They are there.  We have to deal with them.  It's something that I think the West is finding difficult to do.  But here again I think there is the need for the Government, Canadian society generally, to come to a balancing act. There are real advantages in having good relationships with China.  But like all relationships it's not a bad thing to go in with one's eyes open.  
Carol Off: To what degree do you think China has infiltrated the Canadian government and Canadian bureaucracy?
Richard Fadden: I don't think I can answer that question.
Carol Off: Is it a lot? A little bit?
Richard Fadden: I really would rather not because it requires me to draw on information that is classified.
Carol Off: So can I infer from that that you do think that they have penetrated?
Richard Fadden: “Penetrated” is a word that we used to use during the Cold War to talk about spies who infiltrated the very centres of government. I have never suggested that was the case.
Carol Off: What do you suggest?
Richard Fadden: I suggest that they try and obtain influence in a variety of ways, some entirely acceptable some less so.
Carol Off: Do you think that people are knowingly helping them with that or do you think that they find themselves compromised without their knowledge?
Richard Fadden: Yes.
Carol Off: To what? Both?
Richard Fadden: Both. There’s nothing wrong with helping another state.  I mean we do it all the time.  To my mind the problem is, and I'm not just talking about one state in particular, the problem is when you are helping or you are doing something and you're not conscious of the extent to which you’re advancing the interest of the other state.
Carol Off: How often you think that they are consciously doing it?
Richard Fadden: I honestly, in this case it is not a question of not wanting to answer, I don't know the answer the question.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

China Pressures Europe to Stay Silent on Human Rights | The Diplomat

China Pressures Europe to Stay Silent on Human Rights | The Diplomat

"When governments adopt a softer approach on human rights and Tibet, their country’s potential for negotiation on important strategic issues becomes more constricted. Going to great lengths to accommodate the Chinese leadership’s sensitivities at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is presiding over the most eviscerating crackdown on civil society in a generation weakens a country’s leverage instead of strengthening it."

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Canada cites espionage risk from two Huawei employees, saying it plans to reject their immigration applications | South China Morning Post

Canada cites espionage risk from two Huawei employees, saying it plans to reject their immigration applications | South China Morning Post

"Canada is citing the risk of espionage as it prepares to reject the immigration applications of two Chinese employees of mainland telecom giant Huawei, in the first such cases to emerge amid a swirl of unsubstantiated international spying concerns about the firm."

Monday, April 04, 2016

Richard Fadden Comments on Chinese Approach in Canada

Please listen to his 4 minutes of comments on China which start at a bit after minute 17.  I absolutely agree with this distinguished public servant on all these points.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

What I Learnt from Brian Evans

I met Brian in 1986 when I went to the University of Alberta as a Killam postdoctoral scholar. Before I left Ottawa Arthur Menzies gave me some fairly firm instructions that I was to visit his friend James Barrington, who just moved to a nursing home in Edmonton, and that I should report back to Arthur how he was doing there.

Mr Barrington had been Burma's representative to the UN and Ambassador to Canada prior to taking up a teaching job in Brian's History Department in 1965. Brian volunteered to take me to see him.  We went by bus, Brian's preferred mode of transport.  Turns out Brian visited Jim Barrington regularly to pass on his copy of the Far Eastern Economic Review.  That was typical of Brian.  He did so many kind things on the quiet.

After that Brian and I became good friends. We often met for tea in the Hub Mall twice a day morning and afternoon. Although he was the Associate Vice President of the University at the time he always seem to have time to be my mentor (and Victor Radujko had the same privileged access to Brian). In years following Brian came to stay with me in Ottawa and Beijing and St. Catharines and I got to lodge in his palace on 81st Avenue on several occasions. And we travelled together all over China and Macau and several times in Korea and a couple of times to his sister's place in Sylvan Lake. Some of the happiest memories of my life are of times spent traveling in the very good company of Brian Evans.

On February 11 of this year I flew into Thailand only to find an email waiting for me from Pat Prestwich indicating that Brian’s condition had become critical and asking me to come to Edmonton as soon as I could. I was numb with the shock of it. 

That evening in Bangkok at midnight, fighting jet lag, everybody else in the house asleep, I was able to speak with Brian in hospital at 10am Edmonton time for one last time. I told him over the phone that he had been the single greatest single influence on me personally and as an academic. With a weak but ever gracious voice, Brian thanked me for introducing him to so many good Chinese friends over the years.

And that was true.  I invited Brian to join the Royal Society of Canada - Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Democracy project in 1992, Indeed the last time I saw Brian was when we traveled together with the colleagues from CASS as part of the Chinese delegation to a conference in Seoul. To the Chinese colleagues he wasn't a “Canadian friend.” His Chinese friends grew to love him as just Brian for himself and there was no barrier of race or nationality between them.  News of Brian’s death hit very hard in China. The messages to me from Brian's Chinese friends about it have been so emotional I haven't even been able to bring myself to translate them into English yet.

About 15 years ago Brian decided to bring the ashes of his late wife Margot Burwash to China to scatter some of them in Beijing. So Brian and I and Chen Qineng and Liu Guangtai and Wang Benxu furtively wandered all over the Altar of the Sun Park near my staff quarters in Beijing looking for a suitable place to illegally deposit Margot's earthly remains. Eventually Brian found a suitable glade of shrubbery and Wang Benxu led us all in the ritual nine bows in the direction of the bush that Brian with considerable aplomb had thrown them into.  

Subsequent I went back to the Park trying to find where we had scattered those ashes but I never could find the place again. 

Pat wants to bring some of Brian's ashes back to China, an idea I fully support.  Chen Qineng thinks he might be able to find the place by referring to some of the photographs we took that afternoon in the Park all those years ago.

My guess is that we will traipse around the Altar of the Sun Park for quite some time until the spirit of Brian tells us to just scatter his ashes somewhere else and head to the teahouse for refreshment.

After all, Brian had a great sense of humour and a profound appreciation of the absurd upside of life.

I think of Brian often and have to keep reminding myself that he's gone.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Canada Not Among 12 Nations Making Joint Statement on China's "Deteriorating Human Rights Record" to UN Human Rights Council

"In a strongly worded statement delivered to the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, US ambassador Keith Harper expressed concern about the 'unexplained recent disappearances and apparent coerced returns of Chinese and foreign citizens from outside mainland China,' saying they called into question China’s commitment to its “one country, two systems” principle for Hong Kong.

The comments drew an angry response from Fu Cong, the Chinese deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva, who called the US out for conducting 'large-scale extra-territorial eavesdropping” and using drones to “attack other countries’ innocent civilians'.

Referring to “recent reports of abductions”, the American ambassador said on Thursday: 'These extraterritorial actions are unacceptable, out of step with the expectations of the international community, and a challenge to the rules-based international order. The actions involving individuals in Hong Kong represent a violation of the high degree of autonomy promised Hong Kong under its Basic Law.'

He also expressed concern about China’s 'deteriorating human rights record', pointing to the arrests and ongoing detention of rights activists, civil society leaders and lawyers. The ambassador delivered the statement on behalf of the US, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK."

(Phila Siu, “China Slams US Drone Strikes on ‘innocent Civilians’ as United Nations Showdown over Missing Booksellers Escalates into Slanging Match,” South China Morning Post (March 11, 2016), accessed March 14, 2016, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1923040/china-slams-us-drone-strikes-innocent-civilians-united?page=all).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"China Says Its Students, Even Those Abroad, Need More ‘Patriotic Education’"

"China Says Its Students, Even Those Abroad, Need More ‘Patriotic Education’" http://nyti.ms/1SHMKxw
Probably means a lot more Security resources allocated to monitoring people outside China including in Canada.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Op-Ed in Globe and Mail "Trudeau’s dance with the dragon: China must give as much as it takes"

Mr. Trudeau’s government is feeling pressure to show it is taking steps to address Canada’s economic downturn and the growing federal debt; they want to be able to tout a free-trade deal with China as the road to Canada’s economic revival. The worry is that, under such political pressure, Canadian negotiators will commit to a deal that will serve China’s interests much more than ours.