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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hu and Harper - to meet or not to meet at APEC

Is Hu Jintao showing resentment towards Harper’s frank attitude on Beijing's communist policy and their lack of human rights? Nevertheless, Foreign Minister MacKay remains optimistic that a meeting will take place to convey their concerns. May they awaken soon! Update: It is confirmed that they will be meeting after all.

Excerpt: Since the Conservatives took power last January, a number of irritants have emerged, including the awarding of honourary Canadian citizenship to Tibet's exiled Dalai Lama, the Celil case, and public accusations by Ottawa of commercial espionage by the Chinese.

And before the Conservatives took power, Tory MPs were among the most vocal critics of religious persecution in China, particularly the treatment of members of the Falun Gong faith.

"I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values -- our belief in democracy, freedom, human rights,'' Harper told reporters during a Wednesday stopover in Anchorage, Alaska. "They don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar, said Harper.'' (more)

It has only been in the last month that ministerial outreach has been ramped up with Beijing, including a visit this week by Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn. Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has been participating in a number of events with embassy officials.

Still, Canadian business leaders have been pressing the Conservative government to reach out to China in order not to hurt future trade ties with the economic powerhouse. At the same time, human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been trying to remind western countries of the continuing abuses in China and the region. (full story)

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