Canada dodged a bullet on China trip


(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm 

When I was a graduate student, my class travelled to Shanghai to participate in an academic program. Before we arrived in China, we were briefed about the different norms and rules to follow while studying at a Chinese university. 

The first rule was not to ask questions about controversial topics, topics that would make our hosts feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. We were specifically told to avoid the “three T’s”: Taiwan, Tibet and Tiananmen Square. 

When we arrived, we learned that real list of taboo topics was even longer. 

At the time, Google’s Chinese firewall prevented us from searching or doing research on any issue related to China’s human rights abuses, uprisings against the Communist government or the 45 million people who were killed during Mao’s evil purge. 

We couldn’t access thousands of websites that were banned by the Chinese government. Censorship was the norm, and it wasn’t until we left China that we could finally have an honest discussion about what we saw and what was really happening. 

It seems that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a similar experience this week in China. Trudeau’s high-profile trade mission went sideways, and he left China empty-handed – only after being humiliated by the Chinese government. 

The communist regime made it clear: China will set the rules when it comes to any sort of bilateral agreement with Canada. Once Trudeau and his team were on the plane back to Canada, they offered to give Canadian journalists “the inside scoop” about the trip. 

Taking a tip from the authoritarian Chinese regime, Trudeau said that journalists could only attend the briefing if they gave their “solemn word” not to report on any of what he said. Trudeau was only willing to tell the truth to his friends in the media if they promised not to tell Canadians.  

Despite Trudeau’s clear mishandling of the situation, Canadians should breathe a sigh of relief. We dodged a bullet in not further aligning our economy with a regime that has no respect for human rights, the rule of law or our free market system.  

China is not a free society, it’s a society in denial. They pretend to be embracing modernity and international cooperation, but demand it’s done on their rigid and illiberal terms. 

They use trade agreements to gain access to foreign markets, but refuse to play by the rules or respect local laws. They operate mostly through state-owned enterprises with sinful human rights records of their own. Chinese state-owned firms are accused of stealing land, using slave labour and causing colossal environmental disasters. 

The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t care about human rights abuses, and they don’t believe in the rule of law. Instead, they follow a “Three Supremes” legal hierarchy, saying the Communist Party comes first, the people come second and the law is third. 

In other words, the law is arbitrary and subject to the will of the Communist Party. If a law is inconvenient, that law will be changed. If a trade clause it too restrictive, it will be ignored. 

Free trade is based on the principles of liberalism and democracy, where individuals have rights, government power is restricted and society is governed by...(READ MORE)