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Should Canada get tough with China?

5 18 0

Canada’s relations with China have become increasingly tense recently, resulting in trade sanctions and the arrest of citizens. Should Canada get tougher with China? Anastasia Lin, an ambassador on Canada-China policy for the Macdonald-Laurier Instititue argues yes, while Robin V. Sears, a public and government relations expert with years of experience working in China, argues no.

I’m a Chinese-Canadian. When I was crowned Miss World Canada in 2015, hoping to get a bigger platform to speak about human-rights issues, the Chinese Communist Party tried to silence me by threatening my father and other relatives in China. My family and I were left to defend ourselves against the might of the regime.

I felt frightened and alone. My family was in danger because I had exercised my right to free expression as a Canadian citizen. And my government was not there to support me. I met bureaucrats and diplomats at Global Affairs Canada, asking them to raise the issue with their Chinese counterparts. They insisted the situation was “complex” and they had no “action responsibility.” The best they could do was “monitor” such cases, like my father’s.

My story illustrates the nature of Communist China. To intimidate overseas Chinese critics, the party uses their families in China for leverage, targeting their livelihoods, reputations and connections. This unprincipled regime functions purely on the basis of fear and reward. Its leaders fear strength and dominate people by exploiting their fear and greed.

For all its economic power and pretence of modernization, China is ruled by the same unrepentant totalitarian state that has killed some 65 million citizens over 70 years. It is the same regime that mowed down peaceful students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It is the same government that is locking up over a million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps. It is the same government that arrests innocent Chinese citizens and slaughters them for their organs.

The party takes a similar approach to foreign states and businesses. It pressures governments to act contrary to their democratic principles. It forces foreign companies to turn over their intellectual property as a precondition of doing business in China and otherwise manipulates the domestic Chinese economy to secure unfair advantages.

Western countries, including Canada, have long believed that “engagement” — such as accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 — will change China for........

© Toronto Star