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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PM’s right to harp on China

An excellent piece by Peter Worthington. It is refreshing to have a PM walking the walk on Canadian values and human rights. This is good karma for Canada!

Toronto Sun - One wonders at the motives of those who are now attacking Stephen Harper for his blunt repudiation of China’s human rights record and his defence of a Canadian citizen being held by the Chinese as a terrorist.

The suggestion is that he jeopardizes Canada’s trade relations with China by his outspoken criticism, unsoftened by the “nuances” that the Liberals before him exploited to no avail, and are now so proud of.

The silly old Globe and Mail devoted a long editorial to scolding his “awkward position” on China. Odd, because it isn’t awkward at all. It’s clear and categorical. One hopes Harper’s resolve doesn’t weaken.

The Globe thinks he’s being too tough, while acknowledging that his predecessors as PM, Paul Martin and Jean Chretien (the list could stretch back toTrudeau, really), were too casual about human rights violations in China.

First of all, the complaint that Harper’s attitude could damage trade deals with Canada is not only illogical, but so obviously nonsense that one wonders how any rational person could believe it. Those who use this argument surely seem provoked by dislike of Harper, and maybe even a bit of envy at his courage to speak out.

Countries indulge in trade not because they want to help, or because they even like their trading partner, but because they benefit from it. China has invested heavily in Canada (our natural resources), and its trade relations benefit Beijing. Does anyone think they’ll cut back to punish Canada while hurting themselves? Not bloody likely.

Does anyone truly suppose China allows its citizens to come to Canada as tourists - up by 50% over last year - because it wants to help us? No way. Once again, China’s concern is China, not Canada.

As for Harper’s raising of the issue of Huseyin Celil, a refugee Uighur who is a Canadian citizen, he is not so concerned with Celil’s innocence or guilt, but with China’s brutal disregard of diplomatic niceties and international law; its failure to extend the courtesy (and right) to inform Canada, and to permit consular visits.

China may consider Celil a citizen, but he rejects Chinese citizenship - which he automatically became when China took over his country of East Turkestan and made it into a Chinese province.

If China’s claim that Celil is a terrorist and that he took part in an assassination is valid, then why the secrecy? If that could be proven, or there was even a likelihood that it was true, then Canadians would be howling at how such a person could have been allowed to enter Canada, much less become a citizen.

Remember, Beijing thinks the Dalai Lama is a terrorist leader, while we in Canada think of him as a man of infinite peace and wisdom and have made an honorary Canadian citizen.

That, too, irritates China, which sticks its nose into everyone’s business in the form of spies and informers. China harasses expatriates when occasion presents, and tries to poison the well for Falun Gong supporters, whose crime is their growing popularity within China and their belief that meditation, compassion and humanity will produce a better world.

Harper has been pretty restrained. He could have mentioned China’s money-grabbing penchant for selling human organs to those desperate and with money. Former MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas have compiled massive evidence that Falun Gong prisoners have been used as a source for transplant kidneys, hearts, livers, corneas - something Harper hasn’t touched.

Yet.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual. Carry on, Stephen, decency is on your side, and our bet is that Huseyin Celil will eventually be released--perhaps because of you.

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