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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Canada Tibet Committee Hosts Virtual Roundtable with Former Canadian Ambassador to China

December 31, 2020

Toronto, March 15th, 2021—On March 8th, 2021, the Canada Tibet Committee had the pleasure of hosting a virtual roundtable with Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to the People’s Republic of China between 2012 and 2016. For eighty minutes, Mr. Saint-Jacques engaged in a lively question-and-answer discussion with participants on matters related to China, Tibet, Xinjiang, and avenues for Western policy-making in the Indo-Pacific.

During his time as ambassador, Mr. Saint-Jacques was known to be a strong voice on Chinese affairs and an able representative of Canadian interests in the region. After the end of his diplomatic tenure with Global Affairs Canada, he has continued to provide expert public and media commentary as an engaged private citizen.

These qualities were on full display at the CTC virtual roundtable last week, where Mr. Saint-Jacques extolled the necessity of a democratic, Western-led alliance intended to curb the excesses of Chinese expansionism. He remarked that “what we have seen since Xi Jinping became President of China, in fact, since he became Secretary General of the Communist Party of China… I’m convinced that China doesn’t care now about the reputation of China because he thinks that all foreign countries depend too much on China. That’s why this new council of democracies, in my view, could play a useful role.”

He goes on to state: “But that would take political courage. Maybe Western leaders would say, ‘you know what, all of us will take turns to meet with Dalai Lama.’ That would really upset the Chinese. I think the challenge for Western governments… we have learned a lot more in the last year, the last two years, about what’s really going on in China, especially in Xinjiang. The spotlight has moved from Tibet to Xinjiang, but let’s not forget about Tibet. There are also awful things that are going on there.”

Mr. Saint-Jacques noted the shift in public attitudes against China within the last several years, opining that “it has become a lot more difficult for Western countries to give the benefit of the doubt to China. I think history will judge us very seriously if we are not more forceful in our interventions with China.”

Link to full roundtable available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2tDm3V9GPw

By Sherap Therchin and Anvesh Jain


Anvesh is a Research Associate at the Canada Tibet Committee and a student of International Relations at the University of Toronto.

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