For Canada, one ca­pit­u­la­tion af­ter an­other on China

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY GLAVIN Terry Glavin is an author and journalist.

It should tell you some­thing about just how deeply the rot has spread that the Lib­eral Party of Canada was well rep­re­sented at the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s three-day “dia­logue with world po­lit­i­cal par­ties” that was wrap­ping up just as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was ar­riv­ing in Bei­jing on Sun­day, and that among the 300 del­e­gates who lauded Xi Jinping’s regime “as the core in push­ing for­ward the build­ing of a com­mu­nity of a shared fu­ture for mankind and of a bet­ter world” was none other than Jean Chré­tien.

The for­mer Lib­eral prime min­is­ter is nowa­days em­ployed by Den­ton’s Canada LLP, the ugly lit­tle step­sis­ter of the global con­glom­er­ate Bei­jing Dacheng.

It should also tell you some­thing about just how run-of-the-mill these kinds of ob­scen­i­ties have be­come that barely a whis­per has been heard in the House of Com­mons fol­low­ing last week’s rev­e­la­tions about the gen­eros­ity the Com­mu­nist Party’s United Front Work De­part­ment and its re­lated over­seas in­flu­ence-ped­dling agen­cies have been lav­ish­ing upon Cana­dian politi­cians.

Along with pro-Bei­jing lobby groups head­quar­tered in Canada, the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s “soft power” bro­kers have picked up the costs of dozens of get­ting-to­know-you trips to China over the years for sev­eral Lib­eral and Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and sen­a­tors. John McCal­lum, the cabi­net min­is­ter Trudeau ap­pointed am­bas­sador to China last year, racked up free­bie trips to the tune of $73,300.

Xi Jinping’s regime spends an es­ti­mated $18 bil­lion a year on sub­ver­sion and over­seas pro­pa­ganda, which in its Cana­dian con­tent is now prac­ti­cally in­dis­tin­guish­able from the boil­er­plate pro­duced by the of­fice of the min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional trade and the Canada-China Busi­ness Coun­cil.

We are all sup­posed to be some­how im­pressed that Trudeau’s pur­port­edly prin­ci­pled in­sis­tence on gender, labour and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­vi­sions in a free-trade agree­ment with China was the cause of some hul­la­baloo in Bei­jing this week. It’s a handy sto­ry­line. The propo­si­tion that it’s a big deal falls apart on the fic­tion that there is some im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion to be drawn be­tween pro­ceed­ing with “pre­lim­i­nary ne­go­ti­a­tions” as ex­pected, and ad­vanc­ing to “high­level ex­changes” on free trade in­stead.

Never mind that “free trade” isn’t even pos­si­ble with a po­lice state, let alone the sort that has lately reded­i­cated it­self with rel­ish to the thug­gery nec­es­sary to the en­force­ment of a com­mand-and-con­trol econ­omy — which Xi Jinping has ex­plic­itly ar­tic­u­lated as a mat­ter of fun­da­men­tal state pol­icy. Trudeau can at least be con­fi­dent that he can per­sist in his cringe-in­duc­ing in­fat­u­a­tion with the Chi­nese regime, and that Bei­jing will con­tinue to re­turn the com­pli­ment with the flat­tery that he ob­ses­sively craves.

But Trudeau’s ad­vis­ers know full well that they can’t be quite so san­guine. You never can tell when pub­lic dis­gust will reach a tip­ping point. So a bit of high drama comes in handy. High com­edy, too, how­ever un­in­ten­tional.

One is left to won­der what sort of gender-par­ity pro­vi­sions Canada would put on the ta­ble in talks with a despo­tism over­seen by a stand­ing com­mit­tee to which no woman has ever be­longed, which is nom­i­nally “elected” by a 25-mem­ber polit­buro with only two women at the ta­ble, over­see­ing a 376-mem­ber party cen­tral com­mit­tee that has per­mit­ted only 33 women in its ranks.

OK, “the en­vi­ron­ment,” then. While Canada lath­ers on the praise for Bei­jing’s al­leged com­mit­ment to the Paris Agree­ment on Global Warm­ing, China has no obli­ga­tion to re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions un­der the ac­cords un­til 2030. The shelved plans for those 500 new Chi­nese coal plants, then? China is open­ing that many coal mines over­seas, mostly in Africa.

Labour stan­dards? All China has to do is rat­ify and im­ple­ment long-stand­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards set by the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion — which Bei­jing refuses to do, be­cause the ILO rules pro­hibit forced labour and dis­crim­i­na­tion against mi­gra­tory work­ers, and the rules in­sist on col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights and the rights of work­ers to in­de­pen­dent unions, which Bei­jing will not tol­er­ate.

No “free trade” deal with Canada will change any of this, and while this week’s the­atrics in Bei­jing were all very grip­ping, one would have to be stone deaf to irony and wholly blind to Trudeau’s hypocrisy to be im­pressed.

Be­fore he jet­ted off last week­end, this was a key pre­text in Trudeau’s pre­board­ing an­nounce­ment: “A closer re­la­tion­ship also means more op­por­tu­nity to hold reg­u­lar, frank dia­logue on hu­man rights is­sues like good gov­er­nance, free­dom of speech, and the rule of law.”

Hold the laugh­ter about hu­man rights and good gov­er­nance and the rule of law for a mo­ment. Free­dom of speech? Se­ri­ously? Trudeau’s

Xi Jinping’s regime spends an es­ti­mated $18 bil­lion a year on sub­ver­sion and over­seas pro­pa­ganda.

first big gig in Bei­jing was to play the mar­quee celebrity en­dorse­ment role at a huge mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­ity event hosted by Sina, the par­ent com­pany of Weibo, China’s vig­or­ously state-pa­trolled so­cial me­dia plat­form. Here’s the pro­mo­tional blurb: “Why would this great leader, fa­mous for his good looks and youth, choose to visit Sina first?”

Good ques­tion. Why would the prime min­is­ter of a lib­eral democ­racy serve as a brand­ing and pub­lic-re­la­tions gim­mick for a mam­moth com­mu­ni­ca­tions cor­po­ra­tion con­trolled by a Com­mu­nist Party com­mit­tee that em­ploys more than 1,000 peo­ple just to spy on cit­i­zens and mon­i­tor their mes­sages for banned ideas so that dis­senters can be more ef­fi­ciently re­ported to the au­thor­i­ties?

It is com­mon­place to de­scribe Weibo as a mi­croblog­ging plat­form that is more pop­u­lar than Twit­ter. It is, but that’s at least partly be­cause Twit­ter is blocked in China, along with Face­book, Google, YouTube, In­sta­gram, Flickr, Tum­blr and Periscope. The news me­dia sites blocked in China — not least the New York Times, Bloomberg, Le Monde and The Econ­o­mist — are just as nu­mer­ous. So much for free speech, then. As for the possibility of free trade with China, it’s a pro­pa­ganda fic­tion, and we would all do well to call it what it is.

Now that Xi Jinping has con­sol­i­dated his stran­gle­hold on power, there is no turn­ing back. Ar­ti­cle 19 of the Com­pany Law of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China stip­u­lates that any com­pany do­ing busi­ness in the coun­try must in­cor­po­rate a party com­mit­tee into its man­age­ment structure. In the case of joint ven­tures, the party is now de­mand­ing that the com­pany’s party sec­re­tary be the board chair­man. By the Chi­nese regime’s own cal­cu­la­tions, nearly three-quar­ters of the 100,000-plus for­eign-in­vested com­pa­nies in China al­ready have the tu­mour of a party com­mit­tee thriv­ing inside them.

Does any of this mat­ter to Canada?

It does when you look at what Cana­di­ans are get­ting in re­turn. It’s worth notic­ing that China’s rul­ing princelings have al­ready se­cured a shad­owy free trade zone in Metro Van­cou­ver real es­tate. Last month, the In­ter­na­tional Hous­ing Af­ford­abil­ity Study iden­ti­fied Van­cou­ver as the least-af­ford­able city in North Amer­ica, while the cor­rup­tion watch­dog Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional re­ports that Van­cou­ver has emerged as a ma­jor transna­tional mon­ey­laun­der­ing hub.

Dirty money is pour­ing through Metro Van­cou­ver casi­nos, and the re­gion’s hous­ing stock is in­creas­ingly owned by shell com­pa­nies, trusts, anony­mous ben­e­fi­cia­ries or nom­i­nees who list their oc­cu­pa­tion as “house­wife” or “stu­dent.” It’s got so that B.C. At­tor­ney General David Eby reck­ons that there is sim­ply no re­la­tion­ship be­tween house prices in Metro Van­cou­ver and tax­able in­come re­ported to Rev­enue Canada “un­til you get out to the dis­tant sub­urbs.”

Since the re­turn of the Lib­eral party to power in Oc­to­ber 2015, Ot­tawa and Bei­jing have signed at least 50 “im­por­tant bi­lat­eral col­lab­o­ra­tions.” The col­lu­sion in­cludes na­tional se­cu­rity files, mil­i­tary ex­changes, ed­u­ca­tion, con­sular af­fairs, and “cy­ber­crime.” It’s one lit­tle ca­pit­u­la­tion af­ter an­other.

It mat­ters.

FRED DUFOUR/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, cen­tre, hosted a meet­ing of world po­lit­i­cal par­ties last week. Among those at­tend­ing was for­mer prime min­is­ter Jean Chré­tien, who works for Den­ton’s Canada LLP, the step­sis­ter of global con­glom­er­ate Bei­jing Dacheng. No...

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