by David Kilgour
Speech given at the International Leadership Conference, co-sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF)-Japan and the Institute for Peace Policies (IPP).
Keio Plaza Hotel. Tokyo, 16 Nov 2016
A fairly recent Nanos opinion survey across Canada indicated that 76 per cent of Canadians distrust the government in Beijing. I wonder what a similar survey would indicate today in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and among other east Asian peoples?
In the current issue of Diplomat & International Canada magazine, academic Charles Burton of Brock University and formerly a counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing, makes three important points about the party-state in Beijing, including noting its “Leninism without Marxism” in current domestic and foreign policy:
- The Party continues to use high-volume propaganda to engender a sense of crisis of national sovereignty “by a discourse of extreme hostility of the west and one suggesting Japan is conspiring to derail China’s virtuous rise to power. Both aspects resonate strongly with the very deeply felt nationalistic sentiments of ordinary Chinese citizens.”
- Under President Xi Jinping, China “has assertively expanded its area of control by occupying disputed uninhabited islands strategically situated in surrounding seas. Most of these islands are far from China’s coastal waters, but close to the borders of Japan and the Southeast Asian nations that have traditionally claimed them.” These initiatives, he adds, fall just short of the threshold that would provoke the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific to engage in military action to stop it.
- China’s expansionist ambitions have led East Asian nations to “strengthen their defensive alliance with the United States”. Under Xi, it can be expected that there will be even more emphasis placed on “rejecting international norms as defined by the UN’s covenants on human rights and national sovereignty…As its economy continues to falter, it can be anticipated that there will be more emphasis placed on pursuing China’s interests through cyber-espionage and by security agencies seeking to influence critical foreign decision makers to speak for China’s interests in western nations and throughout the world.”
On August 31, Canada’s ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, criticized President Xi’s human rights record during prime minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Beijing. “In the last three years we have seen, I think, things going backward, unfortunately,” Saint-Jacques told reporters. “And that’s why Canada has used opportunities to express its views to China.”
Many human-rights advocates and China observers have used much stronger language to describe how Mr. Xi is changing the country.
Benedict Rogers, for example, a human rights advocate in the UK, was blunt in a recent piece in the Huffington Post UK: “As long as lawyers are harassed, intimidated, monitored, followed, detained, locked up; as long as Christian crosses and churches are torn down; as long as Uighur Muslims are told crudely that they can’t grow beards or fast during Ramadan; as long as Tibetan Buddhists find their culture decimated; as long as Falun Gong practitioners are beaten, jailed, slaughtered;… and as long as there is no international, independent scrutiny of China’s organ transplant system, and no international inquiry into China’s crimes against humanity, I do not trust what (the party-state in) China says.
As long as lawyers are harassed, intimidated, monitored, followed, detained, locked up; as long as Christian crosses and churches are torn down; as long as Uighur Muslims are told crudely that they can’t grow beards or fast during Ramadan; as long as Tibetan Buddhists find their culture decimated; as long as Falun Gong practitioners are beaten, jailed, slaughtered;… and as long as there is no international, independent scrutiny of China’s organ transplant system, and no international inquiry into China’s crimes against humanity, I do not trust what (the party-state in) China says.
James Mann, author of China Fantasy and former Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, says “…What we can do is to keep expressing as forcefully as possible the values of political freedom and the right to dissent. Democratic governments around the world need to collaborate more often in condemning Chinese repression — not just in private meetings but in public as well…Why should there be a one-way street in which Chinese leaders send their own children to America’s best schools, while locking up lawyers at home? The Chinese regime is not going to open up because of our trade with it. The “China fantasy” amounted to both a conceptual failure and a strategic blunder. The next president will need to start out afresh”.
The U.S. lost about 54,000 manufacturing facilities and 24 million related jobs during the past several decades, creating its current surreal trade deficit in the $475 billion range. The Trump administration should listen to people like Dan Dimicco, who headed Nucor, the largest American steel company and steel recycler in North America. Evidently, none of Nucor’s 22,000 has been laid off in 40 years even when many other U.S. steel companies were under bankruptcy protection. Like many Americans, Dimicco wants manufacturing restored to its former important role in the American economy. He stresses that the No.1 job killer in manufacturing is currency manipulation, providing massive cost advantages to predatory foreign competitors like China.
Fair trade is a well-known international peace-builder. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) now effectively doomed by the results of the recent U.S. election, many Canadians hope Prime Minister Abe’s government will move toward a bilateral trade pact with Canada and perhaps other TPP parties. Japan is the world’s largest importer of liquefied natural gas and third-largest consumer of oil and oil products. Most of your imported oil comes from the Middle East. Canadian products would be welcome new sources from a stable, democratic trading partner.