Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Burton: Canada must smarten up on its China policy

"When former officials enrich themselves with Beijing’s money, once they’re no longer managing China-related policy, it raises huge questions about whether these people had been compromised in defending Canada’s national interests vis-à-vis China while in office. A post-retirement second career, trading on their China-related “friendships” cultivated in government service, is just not OK.
Multi-ethnic nations such as Canada should encourage citizens of Chinese origin to seek political office; we need legislatures that reflect our diversity. But the sole legitimate function of a politician is to serve the purposes of their nation of citizenship. Any politicians with divided loyalties who spend a lot of time in China for vaguely defined purposes should not have a voice in policymaking impinging on the interests of China in Canada.
And, obviously, Canadian political parties should not be accepting funding from foreign sources, indirectly or otherwise. Most Western nations’ think tanks that advise on China relations routinely accept funding from China-related sources. And our media often provide an influential platform to apologist pundits whose grants and China travel are on Beijing’s dime through “exchanges.”
Canada indeed urgently needs a lot more expertise on China so we can better realize our interests with that country, but we should pay for it ourselves."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My Opinion Piece in Globe and Mail: "The Vancouver summit: Advantage, China"


"As Mr. Tillerson emphasized, "the purpose of the maximum pressure campaign is intended to cause North Korea to engage as a credible negotiating partner in addressing a pathway to a denuclearization of the peninsula." Of course, the people who will feel the deepest pain of this maximum pressure are the most vulnerable of North Korea's population. Malnourished children will have less to eat, while the sick and elderly lose access to life-giving medicines.

In the unlikely event that North Korea's economy can be seriously destabilized by genuinely effective international sanctions this time, what is the more likely outcome? It's hard to imagine Kim Jung-un surrendering his nuclear weapons, thus undercutting his hold on power and ultimately leading to his going before International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. A more plausible response is even more frenzied brandishing of his nuclear arsenal, threatening the unthinkable in order to save himself from the humiliation of a trial followed by a lifetime of incarceration in the Hague."