While we're on the subject of torture - Macleans.ca

While we’re on the subject of torture


Torture in China – a growing scourge | Amnesty International

Torture still widespread in China, says UN investigator | World news | The Guardian

The UN’s Tough Criticism of China on Torture – BusinessWeek

U.S. cites China for repression, torture – White House- msnbc.com

Concluding observations of the UN Committee against Torture: China (December 2008)

I do hope no one will be so provocative as to mention any of this on the next “Team Canada” trip.

But then, according to Jack Layton,

Harper should not lecture China on its human rights record, considering the questions raised over whether Canada transferred prisoners to Afghan authorities where they were tortured.

“I think you always have to be careful when you live in a glass house when it comes to throwing stones,” Layton told reporters in Winnipeg Friday.

Quite right. Who are we to raise the subject of torture with China, given the second-hand allegations by one diplomat that no one has been able to confirm and that everyone else denies that some years ago some of the prisoners our forces handed over to the government of Afghanistan might have been tortured by the Afghan security service, notwithstanding formal agreements at our insistence requiring Red Cross inspections “at any time,” later amended to include inspections by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and representatives of the Canadian government.

Clearly the situations are parallel.

GLASSHOUSEDATE: Consider the eerie similiarities in Amnesty International’s report:

Zhou Jianxiong, a 30 year-old agricultural worker from Chunhua township in Hunan province, died under torture on 15 May 1998. Detained on 13 May, he was tortured by officials from the township birth control office to make him reveal the whereabouts of his wife, suspected of being pregnant without permission. Zhou was hung upside down, repeatedly whipped and beaten with wooden clubs, burned with cigarette butts, branded with soldering irons, and had his genitals ripped off.

This horrific case of abuse is not an isolated case. Every year many people die due to torture in China. Others survive the torture but continue to suffer the long-term effects of the physical and mental traumas they have endured.

Torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners is widespread and systemic in China. Such abuses have been reported in the full range of state institutions, from police stations, detention centres, prisons, to administrative ”re-education through labour” camps,internal migrant ”custody and repatriation centres”, and enforced drug rehabilitation centres. Torture is also frequently reported as an integral part of the abuse of ”non-custodial” control measures such as ”residential supervision” and during ”special isolation” of officials during investigations into allegations of corruption.

These abuses do not only occur behind closed doors. They have often been perpetrated by officials in the course of their normal duties in full public view, and sometimes as a deliberate public humiliation and warning to others. They are perpetrated by a growing range of officials outside the criminal justice system, including family planning officials and tax collectors

In recent years, victims of torture have included many people who simply became involved in disputes with officials, questioning their authority or attempting to uphold their rights. Officials have resorted to torture in the collection of fines and taxes. Torture as part of blackmail and extortion by corrupt officials is also frequently reported. Migrant workers, particularly young women, are easy prey and frequent victims.

Reports of torture increase during periodic ”strike hard” campaigns against specific crimes when police are clearly given the green light to use ”every means” to achieve ”quick results”…

Torture during interrogation is perpetrated against all types of detainees, including high profile cases. Torture and ill-treatment is also common in prisons and labour camps where prisoners are serving criminal or ”administrative” sentences. Forced labour and ”acknowledgment of guilt” are central to penal policy, generating an environment where prisoners are often abused. Particularly harsh treatment is inflicted on common criminal prisoners and political prisoners who are deemed to be ”resisting reform”. Prison guards often delegate disciplinary duties to selected prisoners or ”cell bosses” who are routinely responsible for abusing other prisoners, often at the direction of the guards.

China? Or Canada?

Filed under:

While we’re on the subject of torture

  1. Do you actually think hectoring the Chinese government by the likes of Harper and Kennedy will actually
    change anything?

    • Indeed. The nationalist impulse is strong in many countries–including China. While raise human rights issues is key, we must be mindful to do so in a constructive manner.

  2. It baffles me when people argue that we need to tolerate China’s human rights abuses out of economic interests, but any indirect link between our soldiers and Aghan torture somehow invalidates our mission there.

  3. The problem with your line of reasoning is that other Canadian prime ministers have raised these concerns in far more public and impactful ways than Stephen Harper, but they managed to so in a way that was less petulant, disrespectful and damaging.

    Jean Chretien–for example–gave a speech calling on young Chinese students to make it their cause to improve China’s human rights record–and he did it at a prestigious law school in China. The speech certainly drew more attention in the rest of the world than anything Stephen Harper has done–given that it was on Chinese soil!–but he managed to do it in a way that show he still had respect for China as large, historic and relevant country.

  4. The point you’re tying to make is, “Birds of a feather do business together” ?

  5. Your analogies are getting worse. Who’s supply them? Alanis Morissette? Now that would be ironic.

  6. Hey Jack. Perhaps the Martin gov’t wasn’t free to say anything on account of the Martin finance dept. having killed all those homeless people.

    Get a grip. Trade according to mutual self interest. Fine. But Canadian leaders playing along when the Don tries the old haven’t seen ya around here to the guy who who didn’t sign over enough “dirty oil” co’s or muzzle enough Free Tibet MPs to rate an earlier visit? Pathetic.

    Jack must be thrilled to know that his demand for better trade relations is actually advancing more Canadian “dirty oil” for China.

  7. Oh for God’s sakes…just seat him the Red Chamber already before the hysterics cause him to cough up a lung.

  8. Before we all repeat the party line do tell us about those disrespectful speeches Harper made and do tell us more about real policy differences before Chretien was freed up to work the China lobby.

    I’m still trying to figure out what was funnier this month. Obama telling India it was a honour for India to get invited first, or China telling Canada of its great disgrace.

  9. “… and that everyone else denies that some years ago some of the prisoners our forces handed over to the government of Afghanistan might have been tortured by the Afghan security service…”

    Who’s everyone else AC? Is this just sloppy writing,or is this you saying you don’t except Colvin’s testimony?

  10. Now you've done it, Coyne. The PRC censors will put macleans.ca on the "blocked" list.

  11. Looks like the PRC hackers are already at work, if my browser performance is any indication.

    • That was my first thought, too. It's a weird concidence that the commenting system crashed shortly after Coyne posted this. DOS attack? Probably not, but it was still odd timing.

  12. OK, let's get this out of the way now.

    1) So Andrew, that Senate appointment must be coming up any day now.

    2) So Andrew, aren't you getting tired of regurgitating Conservative talking points?

    3) So Andrew, how much does it pay to be a shill for the Conservative Party?

    Did I leave anything out? You know I like to be thorough.

    • Your comment is truly garbage. I hope you realize that you are in fact the parrot of the left or whoever told you to think as you do. Because your ad hominem attacks do absolutely nothing to deal with Andrew's arguments…because you can't, because they are clearly unmistakeably airtight. AKA, be quite and go away now.

      • Sev, you need to look up the word 'sarcasm' in the dictionary. Check out 'irony' while you're at it.

        As for your assertion that I am a "parrot of the left", that was indeed the whole point. I was paraphrasing some of the inane, oh-so-clever responses that usually show up in these threads.

  13. Andrew – please quit acting like grandpa solding everyone. There's a huge difference – Chinese can't challenge it. In Canada we can, and should and the Afghan detainee issue should be dealt with. Otherwise, we're no better than China.

    • Nicely said.

  14. Andrew, stop it, there is Yuan at stake. the Chinese might just decide to buy their resources elsewhere….or worse their train cars.

    I mean we wouldnt want to upset our intermarried and connected economic burghers would we?

    Besides, we are supposed to expect more of the Afghan's than the Chinese…not sure why, but we are.

    • "the Chinese might just decide to buy their resources elsewhere"

      Oh yeah ? Where exactly ? Where, that they are not already doing so ?

      • I guess the phrase wasnt extreme eough to inidicate sarcasm…..that was my point, we have something they want, the reference to train cars is something they can buy in a number of places but is connected to some of the larger Chinophiles in and around government, hence the mock horror.

        No, the Chinese want to buy our resources and we should extract prices for doing so, including them opening a market and some demands that they behave properly…..ask anyone who has been in a country financed by Chinese Foreign Aid and you'll know what I mean.

  15. "Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy." J Derbyshire

    It is the moral equivalence that gets me. Some on the left must be amoral because they claim to see no difference between Canadian treatment of first-nations, which is appalling, and ChiComs and what they do to their citizens.

    • That "leftie" is probably me . . . I think of myself as pretty central, but what the heck. There are strong parallels between Tibet & 19th-early 20th century treatment of First Nations (although the reserve schools remind me more of how my grandparents were treated in Stalinist Russia), and the indentured servitude on farms and in mines of Eastern Europeans for several decades in Saskatchewan probably parallels the collectivism of early Communist China. Current Canada favours is tons better, but before WWII, we weren't much better. Not many countries were.

      I lived in China for two years, and as far as I'm concerned, the biggest human rights violations are the working conditions in the mines and factories. The mines are for internal Chinese consumption, and we can't do much about it, but as for the factories . . . If you don't like the human rights abuses in China, stop shopping at WalMart or you're part of the problem.

  16. I don't understand your post. If we handed prisoners to China, it would make sense, but we've never done that. Is it because we've not yet proved we handed detainees over to those that would torture them? Because, you know a great way to get to the bottom of that–guilt or innocence–is by releasing the unredacted documents to either of the parliamentary committee or the Military Police Commission. Or, if we must, a public inquiry. Not doing everything (or in this case, anything) we could to prove our innocence, well, it kinda makes us look guilty.____Are we not to deal with China because they commit torture? Is that it? Because I don't ever remember anyone ever saying we should get out of Afghanistan because they commit torture. What on earth is so hard to understand about Canadians objecting to Canada's involvement in torture?____If we stick to our principles (the ones against torture) we can criticize the Chinese for doing it. If we facilitate torture ourselves–not so much can we criticize others for practicing torture.____To turn it around slightly, why are you encouraging that we criticize China for its human rights abuses when we appear fine with handing people over to others for torture?

  17. Well said Mr. Coyne!

  18. Andrew,
    I agree with your logic.
    I worked for a Chinese state company during the mid nineties. once their wives and children came to Canada,every one of the Chinese employees took out landed immigrant staus and would not go back to China.
    They knew a good country when they saw it.
    Those supporting the Chinese way don't have the foggiest idea what they are talking about including Bob and Jack.

    • There is a difference between supporting the Chinese way and criticizing Harper for hypocrisy. I don't think anyone is saying the Chinese don't deserve to be criticized for human rights abuses. I just think that, at this moment in our history, we are not the ones best suited to do that. I very much hope we will soon get to the bottom of this detainee transfer thing, ensure that procedures are in place so that this doesn't happen again (if it happened, that is) and can get back to criticizng China and others who commit human rights abuses. I very much hope we will not end up on some other country's list of countries that need to be criticized for human rights abuses.

      • We already moved to put the necessay procedures in place in 2007 or haven't you been paying attention?

        And you also haven't been paying attention to Bob and Jack, et. al. who criticized our government for having the nerve to raise human rights concerns with China.

        Andrew is right. The Liberals and thier leftie friends are not being consistent.

        • We're talking about the missing 18 months or so before 07. Maybe you need to pay closer attention.

          • You said..".I very much hope we will soon get to the bottom of this detainee transfer thing, ensure that procedures are in place so that this doesn't happen again (if it happened, that is) "….

            My reply was that procedures hae already been put in place that seem to satisfy Liberals and others..

            The only purpose of "getting to the bottom ot this…thing" is to embarrass the political enemies of leftish MPs, not to develop proper transfer policies. That may be fun to do for you, but there is a war going on that I'd like to see over as quickly as possible so we can move on. Taking our eye off that ball for the sole purpose of partisan gain seems like a poor allocation of priorities.

  19. How clean do our hands need to be in order to criticize the kind of human rights abuses Andrew outlines above? We were slow to improve a monitoring agreement. Chinese tax officials torture people. Are we really too tainted to speak out about that? Should we shut down all the aid programs we run that purport to promote human rights?

    Also, if we were "fine with handing people over to others to abuse their human rights", there wouldn't be any discussion. Someone would say we handed detainees over for torture, and then shrug. True, Hillier comes pretty close to this, but he's a Canadian hero in uniform so you can't hold it against him.

  20. Our hands need to be clean enough that we can criticize others without looking like hypocrites. I'm not sure we've washed enough, in spite of all the waterless cleanser we have everywhere.

    Okay, there's a discussion. Thank goodness! Now, is that all it will be, or are we willing to look into it?

    • We're in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and Al-Quaeda, while trying to rebuild the country's government. Along with our NATO allies, we made a policy decision to transfer detainees to Afghan prisons – after which we may not have sufficiently investigated a braided cord. We improved the relevant agreement. Our government is investigating this in Parliament, in committees and in the MPCC and its widely reported in our media. We're talking about a public inquiry.

      Chinese officials ripped somebody's genitals off to investigate whether his wife was pregnant. That's okay with their government, and similar practices are encouraged.

      Is it really hypocritical to condemn the Chinese approach? It seems pretty different from ours.

      • We didn't just not sufficiently investigate a braided cord. Apparently, when a braided cord was discovered, we ignored it, and when someone brought it up, we told them to be quiet. We buried the braided cord, rather than deal with it. So what makes us think we are in the position of displaying (rightful) indignation at the horrible abuses the Chinese use? It isn't that they're not horrible, it is that we don't mind OUR business, so what credibility do we have to mind THEIRS?

        • Apparently, police officers sometimes are under-charged and just pocket the extra change. Does this mean they have no credibility arresting car thieves? Isn't it possible to make mistakes, even ethical lapses, be reluctant to admit them and still have standing to condemn the atrocities of others?

          • It is very possible to make mistakes, even ethical lapses, and still have standing to condemn the atrocities of others. But hiding it, covering it up, while condemning similar atrocities of others is hypocritical. (Yes, I'm aware China's behaviour is far worse than ours, but as a degree along the same graph.) The trick is, even if you are reluctant (and let's face it, nobody wants to expose their failings–I never said it would be easy) one must confront the failings in oneself, do the best you can to correct that failing so it doesn't happen again, and then condemn others with a more empathetical tone.

            The dirty cop vs. the car thief is also a question of degree. I'm sure there have been cases where the worse (worser?) criminal has arrested the better citizen. That's practically the definition of hypocrisy!

          • And he's still got a job to do, so he still arrests the car thief and the thief still goes to jail.

          • Given the choice between hypocritical action and non-hypocritical inaction on human rights abroad, I'd rather Canada acted. We're a small country, but we can make some difference. We may even have a responsibility to others that requires us to act to help them, even as we struggle to perfect ourselves.

          • Actually, I completely agree with that. The important point there is "even as we struggle to perfect ourselves". Once we begin that struggle. We are, at this moment, still largely in the denial stage.

  21. But… but… they've got the socialist paradise that Bob Rae and Jack Layton aspire to, so of course we can't criticize them. We need to aspire to what they have and how they act

    /sarc off

  22. Jean Chretien, since leaving active politics sure does alot of apologizing for the Chinese regime. It's despicable and tells you that he's representing somebody's interests, but certainly not Canada's.

    Why is his old party following suit?

    Good on you Mr. Harper, not to kowtow to a regime that tortures its own citizens.

    Harper scores another one in an empty (Liberal) net.

    • Now If he'd only held himself to the same high standards when dealing with Khadr, and others.

    • "Good on you Mr. Harper, not to kowtow to a regime that tortures its own citizens."

      I think an earlier post by one A. Coyne already covered this ground, when he wrote :

      "The emperors of ancient Rome used to parade the kings of defeated tribes through the streets as a ritual humliation. That's more or less what's going on here. The purpose of Harpers's visit was expressly one of capitulation to Chinese power and money, and the Chinese leadership were simply forcing us to acknowledge it. They treated the Prime Minister of Canada, in public, as if he were a schoolboy late for class. And, by extension, they were treating Canada the same. Because they know we'll just sit there and take it.

      So his humiliation is ours — and apparently we're just fine with that. Harper's belated willingness to put aside human rights concerns and suck up to the regime was not just applauded, but demanded, by virtually the entire Canadian political, business and journalistic establishment — a remarkable confluence of the left's traditional blindess to the abuses of Communist dictatorships and the business community's traditional desire for profit. Perhaps that's inevitable. But let us have no more preening about our moral standing in the world. And, after this, let us not pretend to much in the way of national pride either."

      I really have to wonder about the reading comprehension skills of some of you. I mean, didn't you have to go through those cards with the different colours which proved your reading level when you were in primary school ? Is reading the Toronto Sun a challenge for you ? Just asking.

  23. I'm sure the Chinese be will impressed by Harper and his crew pointing to their sorry human rights record to deflect attention from accusations of war crimes on the part of the Harper government.

    • Who in the Harper government is accused of committing war crimes?
      Who is doing the accusing?

      • Yes, I know you're more interested in questions than answers. But really, it's getting repetitive.

  24. China!?

    Freakin' totalitarian China is the standard against which Mr. Coyne suggests we judge the behaviour of our government?

    This is a joke. Right?

  25. That is in fact the opposite of my point.

    • Possibly, but a joke, nonetheless.

  26. No, your comment is a joke, a play on words, a twist of meaning.

    It is Layton that is claiming we cannot make a judgement. He is claiming we cannot judge anyone's behaviour, not because China is any sort of standard against which we judge, but because we have no right to judge anyone.

    Apparently, because people in Afghanistan may be torturing prisoners, we cannot judge anyone anywhere.

    • That's why they call him Taliban Jack . . .

  27. I think the Liberal Party of Canada strategy (assuming there is one) on this whole issue is wrong-headed — and I'm just talking about political utility here. Everyone here, of course, has heard that old saying that "The job of the Opposition is to oppose." Fair enough, but when you're talking about what's in your best interests politically, that saying should really be "The job of the Opposition is to oppose — when it makes sense to do so." The problem here is that the Liberals have gotten into this pattern where they think they must dump all over the Harper govt and oppose and criticize everything the Harper govt does and says all the time. Harper is no dummy, he can see this, and as a result he's making the Liberals look completely incoherent. I realize you can come back with that Afghan detainee issue, but on China, since when is the Liberal Party of Canada the pro-business anti-human rights party? I just don't see any political payoff for the Liberals in pursing this line. They need to be more consistent with their vision, their messaging and their sense of who they are, and quit this knee-jerk approach to opposition politics.

    • "I think the Liberal Party of Canada strategy … "

      Yeah, that's right Bean, Harper's trip to China is all about the Liberal Party of Canada's strategy. Such onanism has not been witnessed since Biblical times.

    • I would agree that the liberals need a coherent narrative of their own that doesn't change because Harper happens to borrow it from time to time. A,"it's nice to see the PM looking at the world as we do", might do. Liberals should stand for their principles because they are good principles, not just when they are conveniently anti-Harper.

      • It's worse than that. Instead of giving new life to Liberal Party policies on foreign issues based on his extensive experience outside of Canada, Ignatieff has adopted stale Liberal policies from the Trudeau and Chretien years as his own.

        His infamous foreign policy speech at the Chateau Laurier last September contained passages that I swear could have been lifted verbatim from Trudeau's Foreign Policy for Canadians issued in 1970. Other parts of the speech sounded like it was written by Lloyd Axworthy. Many Canadians thought Ignatieff was going to bing a new intellectual vitality to Canadian political debate. The fact that he has not is a major reason why he has so much trouble gaining traction. He set the bar high and failed to reach it – or even come close.

  28. "Who are we to raise the subject of torture with China, given the second-hand allegations by one diplomat that no one has been able to confirm and that everyone else denies…"

    Wow. What happened to the guy who told viewers on "At Issue" there was no reason to disbelieve Colvin, what with him putting his career at risk for speaking out and all. We are supposed to disbelieve him now because Coyne has been criticized for his position on how the opposition leaders reacted to China scolding Harper? Or is it because the generals (the guys no one actually thought would come to the committee and admit they turned a blind eye to torture) did not admit they turned a blind eye to torture?

    In any event, given the contents of this post I assume Mr. Coyne is criticizing Harper for even going to China in the first place. That, at least, would be a consistent position. Otherwise Harper is just some guy who speaks out against human rights abuses, until it does not serve him to speak out against human rights abuses.

  29. A general question on China and torture/human rights that I'll throw out there as I myself don't know the answer.

    What laws prohibit torture in China of its own citizens? The Geneva Convention, it would seem to me would not apply (unlike arguably Afghanistan/Iraq) as there is no state of war between two countries. Are there other International laws that apply?

    It also seems to me that any financial leverage that trading partners/gov'ts may have had over China had been largely surrendered when China successfully became a member of the WTO on 11 December 2001. The prevailing atitude at the time, I presume, was that engaging China and opening it up was deemed to be the best way to promote improving human rights.

    Which makes the current Gov'ts tardiness in visiting China all that more perplexing. If Harper can openly raise human rights issues in his speech today to the Canadian/Chinese business leaders in Shanghai, why not earlier? That's the only valid area of criticism as far as I can see. I suspect his position has matured (engage rather than snub).

    Obviously the state controlled media will make the most of it (Harper's visit) as a capitulation – the Communists are facing significant and growing internal dissent from those not benefitting in the economic boom – so any sign of international "strength" entrenches them further, or at least doesn't add to the dissent.

    • ' I suspect his (Harper) position has matured (engage rather than snub).'

      Well if Harper snubbing China won Canada 'destination status'
      after other governments failed with 10 years of constant 'engagement',
      I'd say Harper started from a mature postion.

      • Yeah, because he was not building on what had been done before him, right?

        In other words, it was not the "snubbing" that won the status. It was more likely the decision to capitulate and follow in the steps of the previous government that did so.

      • Mainland Chinese are currently able to take organized leisure tours to over 100 countries that have "Approved Destination Status". The major omission on that list, and the one place that more Chinese want to visit than any other, was until recently, the United States. After the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2007, the first Chinese groups began arriving in the US in June 2008. By 2020 China is projected to produce 100 million outbound trips going to every corner of the globe, making it the largest producer of tourists in the world, by far


        • Just the fact that this "approved destination status" exists is absurd.

          • But understandable if you consider that allowing Chinese tourists to freely travel the world is a fairly recent phenomena. It's like letting steam off in a pressure cooker. Not surprising, therefore, that the US, with all of its freedoms and wealth, was only recently added.

          • Yes, exactly, it's absurd that the government exerts so much control over the movement of its citizens, but that's Communism.

  30. I said Colvin was credible, but I've taken no position on whether he should be believed, or the generals who contradict him (who I also said were credible).

  31. "It's important we don't excuse ourselves with false comparisons."

    Agreed. And it's also important we don't excuse the Chinese by false equivalences. That was my point.

    • There's no equivalent between Chinese torture and American torture in its scope, or for that matter in its severity. The question is whether there's an equivalence in its rationale of "security demands it." Apart from habit, the reason China is so inhumane to dissidents and criminals alike is that their society is not founded on the absolute and perhaps irrational principle of the universal human dignity of the individual. Ours is, and that's why, thanks to the virtuous circle of democracy, we do not face the kind of threats to society's security that the Chinese face (or feel they face). Once you start labeling some people as beyond the pale of human dignity, however, you abandon the principle of absolute human dignitythat is why torture matters and why expediency cannot, under any circumstances, trump democratic morality. Humanity is vicious, and prone to vicious cycles; our magnificent virtuous cycle of democratic virtue is more important than sixty thousand dead — or so we thought in 1939-45.

      • The constant tension between our ideals,our security and our economic interests is a difficult one to maintain. I agree we [democracy] are perhaps uniquely equipped to execute it. We have often strayed from our commitment to dignity of the individual, but yet we always find our way back. Let's hope the Chinese eventually come to share some of our ideals, but i fear that a culture of more than 0ne billion will always take a different view of the sanctity of the individual…the Russians still hav'n't abandoned similar views ; that real human rights are a luxury they can't afford to indulge. The weight of history i guess. Canada is so fortunate in this regard.

      • agreed Jack…. which is why i don't like much of AC's post. while there can be no argument that we are 'as bad as the Chinese', it does not make less valuable the notion that if we are serious that human rights abuses should not be tolerated 'full stop' then such a principle demands that we don't attempt to create a hierarchy of abuses, esp. a hierarchy based on convenience…

  32. Coyne's not serious about anything. That's the mistake we make all the time.

    • We? I'm pretty sure you're running solo here UC.

  33. OK, Fair enough. I stand corrected.

  34. So why weren't the words "false equivalences" in your post? Seems to me that if that was your point, you'd have articulated just so.

  35. I see the Liberals and friends as being very consistent.
    They will abandon anyone and anything when the desired result is to land a blow on Harper.

    Curiously, the evil meanie Harper stood up for Bob Rae when he was deported from Sri lanka.

  36. Chinese intelligence agencies keep tabs on Canadian journalists, just as they monitor journalists in other countries. Shortly after Coyne posted of this, the PRC would have noticed it and some folder labelled "Andrew Coyne" would have been updated.

    • As you know this type of activity is not limited to the Chinese.

    • "Shortly after Coyne posted this, the PRC would have noticed it"

      If this is true, I would love to have my own folder that ChiComs updated every time I called them wankers. You are lucky, Coyne.

  37. "Curiously, the evil meanie Harper stood up for Bob Rae when he was deported from Sri lanka."

    When The Coalition gains power, that inconvenient fact will be erased from the history books.

    • 'When The Coalition gains power, that inconvenient fact will be erased from the history books"

      You're joking right? You can't honestly believe that crap. From hyper partisans like Wilson and sometimes TY i've come to expect it…you disappoint again.

      • Thank you for realising I am hyper partisan only part of the time. I like to believe that is true.

        One reason I like to take a hyper partisan position from time to time because it gets such fascinating reactions from some of the rabid Liberal and NDP supporters on this board.

        For more years than I like to admit I was trained to be non-partisan for my Liberal bosses. There is a genuine sense of relief when one no longer has to tow the party line.

        • Ah, the bitterness.

  38. . . . yes, just as there's a Jack Layton entry in the PRC's "Useful Idiots" folder.

    • Hmm wonder what Bob Rae's is titled…..related?

      • There's also a file on a little green from called "critical reasoning." I bet that's causing some brows to furrow.:)

  39. Yeah, c'mon guys, kiss & make up.

    • Well, I thought I was being pretty nice. I sincerely applaud Mr. Coyne for denouncing Layton's opportunistic relativism. But if push comes to shove I'm not going to be nicer to Coyne than he is to Layton. But what do I know? I'm not on TV.

      • You did call him a torture apologist, after all. Perhaps he's holding out for an apology.

        • I do apologise sincerely if he, or anyone, thought I was tying him in with the real enthusiasm for torture that you get from guys like Steyn (or FOX). If this were 1999, I'd even applaud his (and Ignatieff's) judicious weighing of the pros and cons, and their shared conclusion that it is not generally acceptable. I just feel that, when the Americans are busy reevaluating the Dark Ages, it's not the right time to make nice distinctions. So much of American political discourse shows up here that we cannot be too vehement in crushing, on behalf of our generation, the same old temptations of moral relativism. Hence my admiration for this post.

          • So now you're insulting Steyn again. And you've jumped on that silly Fox bandwagon. Broken record. What's your next circus act?

          • This is grown-up time, sf. Your cuddle blanket's out behind the barn.

          • That's scf to you, whippersnapper.

  40. Imagine my devastation.

  41. Well said, kc.

    • It is important to say from time to time that we are a good country, and also a very fortunate one.

      • It is important to say from time to time that we are a good country…

        Egad, old boy. The assertion that Canada is a good country is going to be a bloody rare find within these precincts, because, you see, there is a far better country to the south of us–and the sooner we realise that, the sooner we shall shake ourselves out of our smug parochialism…

        …the kind of parochialism that deludes us into thinking that the public pronouncements of our prime minister upon Chinese human rights carry more transnational authority and threaten more Chinese Communist Party élites than the smarmy pro-Tibet blandishments of Richard Gere.

  42. Actually, it's Jack Layton making the connection, and Andrew taking him to task on it.

  43. Is it our place to operate and control other country's legal system?
    Should we run China and the Chinese run Canada?

    Diplomacy is the art of the possible.
    China use to starve and eliminate millions of people before we engaged in soft diplomacy.
    Are the Chinese citizens better or worse off today than forty,thirty,twenty,or ten years ago?
    Will Canada effect more change by calling the Chinese names or by engaging in constructive dialogue and offering assistance to help the Chinese catch up to our standards?
    Criticise in private and praise in public will achieve better results.

    • China use to starve and eliminate millions of people before we engaged in soft diplomacy.

      Well thank God our soft diplomacy solved that one. Likely they just evolved to the point where they realized starving the people was detrimental to their national well-being. Soft diplomacy had very little to do with it.

  44. I'm delighted to see Mr. Coyne condemning torture so earnestly; truth be told, his abashed equivocating on American torture from a while back was obviously not his actual view (I think he was just playing Devil's advocate in the "debate"); and I've rather regretted my raking him over the coals (such as they were), which I'm sure everyone has forgotten. So I'm not attacking Mr. Coyne — quite the contrary — when I note that China tortures its prisoners because it feels, rightly or wrongly, that they compromise its security — that they threaten the collective — that the "greater good" is served by treating its internal enemies as animals; which is pretty much the Cheney argument for why we should torture Al Qaeda terrorists, applied more broadly but with quite the same logic. For that matter, it was the Stasi rationale too. The logic itself is both flawed and inhumane, and tough posts like this, taking on if not Cheney then at least his Far Eastern counterparts, are most welcome. As far as I'm concerned, there is no economic rationale whatsoever that should have prevented us from denouncing totalitarianism in the Soviet Empire, and there is likewise no economic rationale whatsoever for rationalising Chinese authoritarianism today. That 98% of Chinese approve of it is 100% beside the point.

      • Readers interested in a transcript of the debate performance to which I alluded, quite nicely, but apparently not nicely enough for the most stubborn man in Canada, can find it here (scroll 1/3rd of the way down):

        • This doesn't bode well for the Mitchell/Coyne rapprochement.

    • .I don't know if i entirely agree with you Jack. Sure it's good to condemn any sort of torture…on this score i do applaud Harper. But what is AC really saying here? It sounds too uncomfortably close to the Bush/Cheney line of " see, those are the real monsters[ true enough] don't waste everyone's time looking at our record" Moral relativism, in other words. I doubt AC meant that but i could easily see this being spun out along those lines. It's important we don't excuse ourselves with false comparisons.

  45. Like any religion, secular humanism needs to convince people that they are wicked, in order for it to have an manner of moral suasion. Catholic guilt meets Liberal guilt. The key is to establish standards that are unattainable in a world of pragmatism and tradeoffs, and to chide those who fail to make the cut. Of course you can't chide the worst offenders – like the Chinese, Iranians or once upon a time, the Soviets. They clearly aren't going to pray at your church any time soon – being poor, and thrust in harsh geopolitical settings they cannot afford the luxury of zealotry. You have to chide the moderate offenders because A. it is good to look down on people that actually live near you and B. because they are a potential source of new members.

  46. Catholic guilt is Liberal guilt.
    Guilt at voting Liberal for so many years when they were so very fooking wrong.
    The Catholic vote was always Liberal.

    I'm not Liberal, Catholic, or Protestant or atheist.

    I just is, and if God dares me otherwise then he wins.

  47. The difference of course is that we have no control over what the Chinese do to their prisoners, whereas it was very much up to the Canadian govt what we did with detainees captured by our soldiers.

    • <slaps forehead>

      Please read Andrew's post again, very slowly.

  48. It strikes me as very odd that Layton and Rae advocate supressing HR and torture issues to advance Chinese business interests and then pontificate relentlessly that the Conservatives are criminal because detainees may have been handed over to Afghan authorities and ill-treated. Their moral relativism is easy to understand in a political sense but does not survive the morality test.

    • You can imagine how odd the rest of us think it is, then, that Harper and his supporters are all about pontificating relentlessly about China's HR abuses, while turning a completely blind eye to the possibility of ourselves facilitating that behaviour in others.

      • Well Jenn there is a wide gulf between a country as civilized as China torturing its citizens especially if it wants to be considered a world leader as compared to Canada trying to set up a monitoring system in a backward country where public beheadings and mutilations are commonplace and the Opposition expect the Government to be perfect at it even if it was the liberals who set up the detainee process in the first place. My point simply was that Rae and his cohorts have staked their reputations as being progressives and saviours of humanity and therefore it seems hypocritical that they would overlook China's continued policy of torture whereas PM Harper has never laid down any such claim. His oppostion to China is simply that torture is institutionalized whereas the Afghan issue is not that the Government purposely supported or encouraged torture but that it may have been laggard in adjusting its monitoring policy to absolutely ensure that detainees were not being mistreated or tortured by Afghani officials. There is a huge difference between the two.

  49. The difference is China does not claim, holier than thou Amnesty International also complained about Canada actions in Afghanistan. However, if China has no respect to human rights and repression is growing, why do not want we sent our soldiers to restore democracy in China just as we are trying to do in Afghanistan.

  50. Jack Layton (at least theoretically) aspires to lead the Government of Canada as Prime Minister.

    I do not want anyone – anyone – leading my country so eager to equivocate about Canada – especially in relation to a country like China.

    Layton can be anything he wants if he wants to take a relativist view of Canada vice China: political scientist, philosopher, journalist, columnist, Tim Hortons counter clerk.

    But he cannot be Prime Minister if he is not prepared to put Canada first.

    It, er, comes with the job.

  51. "The Catholic vote was always Liberal."

    That is nonsense of course.

    And I am proof of it.

  52. "I don't understand your point"

    Here, I'll give it a try,

    equating Canada's human rights record with China, is disingenous, rediculous, and above all, belittles the very real torture being committed at the hands of state actors, so that one can score cheap partisan points against Harper.

    There's some guy in China right now, with burning irons being pressed against his testicles for the crime of thinking the wrong way,

    and Jack Layton will have you believe it's "just as bad" in Canada, so he can try to downtick a some opinion poll on the CPC.

    As for those expressing faux outrage along with Jack,

    do you think the captured Taliban were treated like hotel guests when the Liberals were in power?