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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Grits soft on China

December 7, 2009

Liberal stance one of the reasons we feel so corrosively cynical about


Last Updated: 4th December 2009, 8:29am

"The Olympic Games in Beijing brought heightened repression throughout
the country as authorities tightened control over human rights
defenders, religious practitioners, ethnic minorities, lawyers and
journalists. Following protests and unrest which began in March in
Lhasa, the government originally detained over 1,000 people. Hundreds
remained in detention or were unaccounted for at year's end. The
authorities used a series of violent incidents alleged to be linked to
terrorists to launch a sweeping crackdown on the Uighur population in
the Xingjang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Torture and other
ill-treatment remained widespread. The authorities maintained tight
control over the flow of information, with many Internet websites
blocked, and journalists and Internet users harassed and imprisoned for
the peaceful expression of opinions. The authorities made increased use
of punitive forms of administrative detention, notably the re-education
through labour system, to silence critics in the lead-up to the Olympic

Note to Bob Rae and Jack Layton: Any of that ring a bell? It's from
Amnesty International's human rights report for China, 2009. No one,
except the Chinese regime, denies any of it.


Now here's Rae himself, as quoted in yesterday's Globe, speaking about
Canada's coolness to Beijing over the past four-and-a-half years and
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's public rebuke of Prime Minister Stephen
Harper for same: "The immaturity and clumsiness of Harper's approach has
set the relationship (with China) back years. Mr. Harper is playing in
the big leagues now, and he's paying the price for ignoring every
warning and advice he has received, and for the arrogant and cavalier
approach he has taken to this critical relationship."

Now to Layton: "We need to show we're serious about our human rights
concerns in China by addressing our human rights problems with Afghan

Ah. So the Liberal Party, defender of all that is good and right on this
fair planet, confirms that we need to set those pesky ideals aside where
China is concerned. And Jack Layton thinks Canada's military mission in
Afghanistan places us on the same moral plane as the government of China.

Turning over perhaps several hundred Afghan insurgents, our foes in time
of war, to the tender mercies of their own prisons is the moral
equivalent of the systematic repression of the natural rights of 1.5
billion human beings.

And they wonder, they actually wonder, why so many Canadians feel so
corrosively cynical about politics and the political process.

People who defend Beijing love to play the sophistication card. It's an
argument for worldliness. China has been home to a continuous
civilization for 5,000 years. Its culture and history and politics are
beyond our ken. The regime sits on a powder keg of explosive human
energy that, if unleashed, would lead to chaos.

Must engage

So we mustn't apply the same standards there as we apply to ourselves
and others. And besides: We couldn't even if we wanted to. This is no
banana republic. It's the most populous nation on earth, powerful and
growing more so by the day. We must engage.

And that's true. We must. But does this mean we also need to shamefully
pretend we believe Chinese state propaganda, whether about Tibet, the
Uighurs, Falun Gong or Tiananmen Square?

Harper's China policy over the past four years expressed, in many small
ways, displeasure with Beijing's treatment of the people under its
influence. That was a good thing.

The apparent resurgence of Jean Chretien-era realpolitic is nothing to
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