Harper in China: “Are there obstacles?”


Here’s the portion of Stephen Harper’s speech tonight to the Canada-China Business Council in Guangzhou that dealt, if I am reading it correctly, with rights. These were his longest public comments on that general topic during his China visit, although as you will see, that’s largely because he was at such exquisite pains to couch every snippet of criticism in layers of mitigating on-the-other-handism. But don’t take my word for it:

Are there obstacles? Of course there are. Canada does not — and cannot — disconnect our trading relationship from fundamental national values.

Canadians understand that our own wealth and prosperity have come about, and are broadly shared, not just because of abundant resources and hard work, but because of our commitment to freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights for everyone.

Canadians believe, and have always believed, that the kind of mutually beneficial economic relationship we seek is also compatible with a good and frank dialogue on fundamental principles such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of belief and worship.

And they demand that their government — and their businesses — uphold these national characteristics in all our dealings.

Canadians also demand that their government be a responsible global citizen in dealing with the peace and security challenges that confront the world. And, wherever we can, urge other governments, including global actors like China, to do the same.

In saying these things, let me be clear that I do not claim to fully understand the unique kinds of challenges that a huge, emerging, spectacularly expanding economy, such as this one, faces.

Today, the drive in from the airport is a powerful picture of how millions of people are bettering their lives through industry and investment. Without a doubt, this is its own kind of liberation.  Nor do I ignore the undeniable differences of Chinese culture and history.

However, as Canadians our history has taught us that economic, social and political development are, over time, inseparable. And it is our national creed that people of all cultures can be Canadian, enjoying and participating in all aspects of our democratic society as, indeed, Canadians of Chinese origin do today.

Therefore, in relations between China and Canada, you should expect us to continue to raise issues of fundamental freedoms and human rights and to be a vocal advocate for these, just as we will be an effective partner in our growing and mutually beneficial economic relationship.




Harper in China: “Are there obstacles?”

  1. The check list is complete. Time to come home with da Bears.

  2. Canada no longer has a foreign policy.  But we have a domestic policy which involves making hypocritical statements admionishing oppressive regimes while going out of our way to ensure these regimes continue to have the resources to prepetuate themselves. 

    (Canada was similar under the Liberals, but less hypocritical.  And we did far less business, although there’s not much a politican can do about how much business is done).

  3. Chinese tolerate West’s insufferableness about human rights because they know it allows our leaders to save face. In Canada, we murder babies and deny fundamental rights to people based on blood lines while lecturing others about how humane we are. China is much, much worse than Canada but we do like to blow our own horn when it comes to Canadian virtuousness.

    Maple Leaf Web:

    “While Canada routinely ranks in the top ten of the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) – a quality of life indicator based on income, education and life expectancy applying the same criteria to Canada’s aboriginal population reveals some striking figures. Registered Indians living on reserves are ranked approximately 68th, somewhere between Bosnia and Venezuela, while off-reserve Indians are ranked 36th.”

  4. Frankly, let me be clear, If any of you guys mention Norman Bethune I’m out of here and all deals are off.

    • That’s a great link. I wish i’d read it before i posted. Although i don’t think i would had said anything differently other than  it is possible to be brave, principled and pragmatic in the manner of Merkel.
      Goes to show the value of real world experience. Merkel actually knows what despotism looks like; Harper only thinks he does and he hasn’t the grace to admit otherwise.
      Man that is sad when a German leader knows more about how to uphold western values without getting the crap halfway up her skirt then a Canadian PM does. 

      Brown has alot of experience in China, wonder if Paul will run into him… er hem hem. 

    • Agreed.  Brilliant piece.  Thanks for the link.

    • I realize many of you may be aware, but I have to persist. Supplementing Brown’s observations:
      “Soon after Mr. Harper won power, the Prime Minister’s staff started deciding which reporters could ask questions, skipping those they suspected weren’t in the government’s favour,” she wrote.http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/stephen-harper-control-freak-200703664.html

      I was thinking that Harper may have learned even more tricks of the trade while in China, but he’s got quite the propaganda machine himself, so is likely just getting validation for his techniques.

  5. “…that’s largely because he was at such exquisite pains to couch every snippet of criticism in layers of mitigating on-the-other-handism”

    No more going along to get along…’ Scratch that one off the list. Damn how many other stupid things have i said since i started this political gig?’ …grumbles SH.

    Can we say the transformation is almost complete…SH has become Chretien? That’s good, at least in this case. Trudeau once wrote to Conrad Black after 79 that he wasn’t worried, eventually every intelligent Conservative becomes a Liberal [ don’t know what that says about Joe?]
     It’s not quite working out exactly that way with Harper, but close enough.

    …hark! Is that weeping i hear in the background? Jason grinding his teeth…can’t be, that would be the reaction of a man with principles.

  6. It’s done !! Our Prime Minister has sealed a deal to expand our trade and our economy, while at the same time speaking to the issue of China’s human rights, or lack thereof.   It’s a great day for both human rights issues and our economic well being.   Well done Mr. Harper  !!!!

    • I see Mr. Harper is catching on from his Chinese mentors in the public relations department!

      • Well, Harper spoke to a room devoid of leaders about ‘rights’, and we certainly got rooked on the bears….so I think you’re right.

  7. Paul,

    Enough already with the Chinese.  Who do you think will win the GOP primaries.  Really, lets get real!

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