Thank you very much, Chairman Nault, Vice-Chair Laverdière, and members of the committee, for the opportunity to meet with you today. It is a pleasure and a privilege.
I represent The United Church of Canada and I bring you the greetings of the 42nd moderator of the United Church of Canada, the Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, and of our general secretary, Ms. Nora Sanders.
As you may know, the United Church is a uniquely Canadian institution, a union of several national churches. It was founded by an act of Parliament in 1925.
Our identity is Canadian, yet we understand ourselves to be part of a global family. That is lived out as we support and accompany global partner churches and organizations with whom we share a vision of a just and peaceful world. Through two of our predecessor churches, the United Church has a history of more than a century of mission engagement and relationships in northeast Asia—in China, Japan, Korea, and more recently in the Philippines. Today, however, I am going to focus my remarks on Canada's relationship, interest, and opportunities with Korea.
The United Church's history with the people of Korea began in a formal way in 1898, when the so-called Canadian Mission was established in Wonsan, on the northeastern coast of what is now the DPRK. Canadian missionaries related to the United Church have lived, served, died, and are buried in what is now North Korea as well as South Korea.
The United Church's Canadian Mission was known for a blended commitment to Christian mission and the social well-being of people, particularly the underprivileged. United Church Canadian Mission emphasized health, in the form of clinics and hospitals; education, especially for girls and impoverished women; and leadership development and capacity building.
Canadian United Church missionaries served in Korea during the Japanese occupation, the Korean war, and the immediate aftermath. After division, United Church presence was limited to the south. Those affiliated with the United Church supported Korean efforts for independence, for democratization, and for human rights.
Today, I would say that the yearning of partners of the United Church in the south and in the north is to promote reconciliation, peace, and reunification in the Korean peninsula. This yearning is shared by many Canadians who are linked to Korea by ties of family and friendship and through shared endeavour in areas of commerce, education, arts and culture, and more. The United Church of Canada, with its 2,800 congregations in Canada, stands with Korean partners and Canadians who seek a just, sustainable peace on the Korean peninsula. We are committed, as the United Church, to do what we can in the mutual journey toward that future.
As your committee prepares to travel to the region, I want to name what may be obvious. I hope that a visit to South Korea may in fact focus on the Korean peninsula and the situation there.
Canadians have an historic commitment to the well-being of the Korean people and a legacy of trust. This moment, a highly complex and even dangerous one, is an opportunity for Canada to engage on the global stage as a bridge-builder committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Having been mostly silent until recently on the Korean peninsula/North Korea file, both bilaterally and multilaterally since about 2010, Canada will need to work to re-establish its credibility on North Korean issues. I think that doing so would be an important building block for reasserting Canada's political and security commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
What can Canada do? I would like to name four areas for the committee to consider and explore. Before I do so, bear in mind that partners in Korea tell us that peace and human security on the Korean peninsula and the end of nuclear weapons there can only be achieved through genuine engagement without preconditions, the end of military exercises and missile tests, and constructive dialogue towards a peace treaty and negotiated peace.
In your review of Canada's engagement with Asia, I would suggest that you might consider exploring four areas related to Korea.
First of all, consider how Canada might provide support for South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his commitment to inter-Korean dialogue and reconciliation and peace on the peninsula. With the upcoming mix of summits—you know that one happens next week—I think President Moon deserves support from Canada. His approach is obviously very different from President Trump's. The January summit that took place here in Canada, co-hosted by Canada and the U.S., gave significant support to the approach of the Trump administration. It's fitting that Canada give support to the approach of its South Korean ally.
I suggest that this committee might explore how Canada could assist President Moon's efforts to formally end the state of war in the peninsula and begin the process toward a comprehensive peace treaty to replace the 1953 armistice agreement. That agreement would be essential for normalizing relationships between the north and south.
How can Canada help in preparing the table for global talks? The talks really do need to be global. How can those present at the table include all who need to be there, including women from north and south, the U.S., China, and Russia?
As area number two, instead of applying maximum pressure, think about how Canada can maximize dialogue and engagement with North Korea. I suggest two ways you might want to consider this. First of all, consider how Canada can ease up on the sanctions being faced by humanitarian agencies working in North Korea. Our collective experience is that sanctions and the isolation of North Korea have actually encouraged the North Korean nuclear program and have severely harmed ordinary North Koreans. The United Church is on record with this stance and has recently sent a letter, co-signed by Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, to the UN Security Council committee on sanctions. I've given a copy of that to the clerk of the committee.
Another way of maximizing engagement is to encourage and enable people-to-people dialogue, contact, and interaction. This is what churches, civil society, and humanitarian agencies have had lots of experience doing. Whether it's through North Korean farmers coming to the Prairies, through the Mennonites, or through North Korean students studying at Canadian universities, or someone such as Hayley Wickenheiser going to North Korea to do a hockey clinic, we know that people-to-people encounter is essential for authentic dialogue towards peace. I would also suggest that it takes courage, commitment, and a determination to hang in for the long haul to build relationships of trust.
Area three is to give Canada's ambassador in Seoul full authority to represent Canada in Pyongyang. This worked well previously. We established diplomatic relations in North Korea in 2001 to support then-president and Nobel peace prize winner Kim Dae-jung. We had several very able diplomats representing Canada in both South Korea and North Korea. That ended in 2010, a decision that many felt did Canada's interests no good and actually contributed to the decline of Canada's role in the region. This is a time of dialogue, and I firmly believe that Canada can assist in the communication, interpretation, and honest brokering that's needed at this time.
Area four is the last one. Ensure that women's voices and their participation are part of the peace process. Part of Canada's particular contribution to the process can be to facilitate the involvement of women's networks and broader civil society in the process towards peace. That means women from both North and South Korea being present during the process. As we know, the engagement of women is crucial for the peace process to move forward. This government has adopted a feminist foreign policy and a feminist international assistance policy, and in November 2017 it passed its second national action plan on women, peace and security. Make sure this is lived out concretely in the Korean situation. As Minister Freeland has said, “The path to peace needs empowered women. Where women are included in peace processes, peace is more enduring...”.
We appreciate very much your willingness to meet with civil society representatives in Canada. We encourage you to do so in Korea as well.
I have given the staff of the committee contacts for you in South Korea with engaged Christian church leaders, women's networks, and other respected civil society leaders. They stand ready and willing to meet with and talk with you.
I conclude, Mr. Chairman and committee members, with the prayer that you may experience wisdom and discernment in the important leadership that you give the people of Canada and your constituents, and for the grace, patience, and persistence in this important task of not only reviewing Canada's engagement in Asia but also, I hope, in pursuing the path to a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Thank you so much for this incredible opportunity to provide some historical and geopolitical context ahead of your trip to South Korea. It has been a tremendous honour for me and Women Cross DMZ to work closely with Canada's leading feminist women's organizations, such as the Nobel Women's Initiative; the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace; and the Women, Peace and Security Network; as well as with Minister Freeland, Parliamentary Secretary DeCourcey, and Global Affairs Canada. You have all been model neighbours.
By way of introduction, I am the founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ. We are a global movement of women mobilizing for peace on the Korean peninsula. In 2015, on the 70th anniversary of Korea's division by Cold War powers, Women Cross DMZ led 30 women peacemakers from 15 countries, including two Nobel peace laureates; America's feminist icon, Gloria Steinem; and numerous other peace activists across the Korean demilitarized zone from North to South Korea.
We held women's peace symposiums in Pyongyang and Seoul, where we discussed with hundreds of Korean women the impact of the unresolved conflict on their lives. We walked with 10,000 Korean women on both sides of the DMZ, in the streets of Pyongyang, in Kaesong, and in Paju, calling for an end to the Korean War with a peace treaty, for the reunification of families, and for women's leadership in the peace-building process.
Three years ago, we would never have imagined that our calls for a peace treaty were within our grasp, yet here we are at this historic moment, and what happens in the coming months will determine whether peace or war prevails on the Korean peninsula.
Canada, which sent the third greatest number of soldiers to fight in the Korean War and has one of the largest Korean diaspora communities and whose robust civil society has a long history and track record sending humanitarian aid and engaging with North Koreans, can play a vital role to support peace on the Korean peninsula and stability throughout Northeast Asia.
As you may know already from your trips and study before your upcoming trips to South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, Northeast Asia is the world's fastest-growing economic region, with a population of over 1.5 billion. It is also undergoing intense militarization, with massive arsenals of nuclear weapons and sophisticated weaponry that gravely threaten the peace and security of everyone in the region.
Underlying this militarization is, foremost, the unresolved Korean War, which was halted on July 27, 1953, when military leaders from the U.S., North Korea, and China signed the armistice agreement and promised to replace the ceasefire with a permanent peace treaty. This never occurred, and as Patty noted, an entrenched state of war has prevailed.
Formally ending the Korean War would lead to greater security on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia by reducing tensions in the region and countering this escalating militarization. Twenty nations, including Canada, participated in the Korean War. Canada must be a leader in helping to end it.
As Patty noted also, next week, South Korean president, Moon Jae-in will be meeting with North Korean chairman, Kim Jong-un. They will discuss how to end the historic conflict between the two Koreas, which will then be followed by the Trump-Kim summit. No standing U.S. president has ever met with a North Korean leader, and we may never get this opportunity again if both sides can't come to an agreement. Many fear what President Trump himself has said will happen if they can't come to an agreement—military conflict to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea.
It is important to note that we are not here today in this window of diplomatic opportunity because of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign, which has only caused great suffering to the North Korean people, but rather because of President Moon and his masterful diplomacy and commitment to a final resolution of the Korean War.
It was just 11 months ago that Moon Jae-in became president after an extraordinary people's movement rose up to bring down the neo-conservative president, Park. His election was a victory of people power, where over 16 million South Koreans—that is one out of three—took to the streets for five months and held candlelight vigils. He ran to end corruption and improve inter-Korean relations and he won in a landslide victory. Today, he still enjoys a 74% approval rating. In his first major foreign policy speech last year in Berlin, President Moon offered North Korea a peace treaty to end the Korean war if they agreed to denuclearize.
As tensions escalated between Washington and Pyongyang, Moon condemned North Korea's nuclear missile tests, but he also sent a clear message to Washington that “no one should be allowed to decide on a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean agreement.” That's because in the opening days of a conventional military conflict, 300,000 people would be killed, and were nuclear weapons to be used—and we know North Korea possesses an arsenal of at least 20—25 million people would be impacted.
Fearing pre-emptive U.S. strikes on North Korea and the likely counter-retaliation against 30,000 U.S. troops on 87 bases in South Korea, President Moon quickly seized the window afforded by the Olympics and called for a truce. Kim Jong-un reached back and sent hundreds of athletes and performers to the Olympics, including his sister, Kim Yo-jong, who was the first member of the Kim dynasty to set foot on South Korean soil since the war.
The world witnessed the transformative power of engagement at the Olympics when the two Koreas marched together in the opening ceremony carrying a one-Korea flag. Yet as the entire stadium rose and cheered for Korean unity, Vice-President Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Abe remained seated. It was a sober reminder of Japan's colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945, which led to Korea's tragic division by Cold War powers. Many Americans don't even know this, so I am reiterating this fact. In 1945, two young State Department officials basically tore a page from the National Geographic and drew a line across the 38th parallel, giving Seoul to the United States and Pyongyang to the Soviets. That is how Korea was divided and how millions of Korean families still remain separated. That is the tragic history. No Korean was consulted.
Given how much is at stake, it is crucial that the prospect of peace or nuclear war doesn't rest solely on the outcome of a Trump-Kim summit, but the collective engagement by state and non-state actors working together to see through a lasting peace.
Canada, which helped the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations, has established itself as an honest broker to help bridge understanding between historic enemies with its commitment to be a global player in promoting peace and stability around the world. Particularly through its feminist foreign policy, Canada can play a vital role now by helping to ensure the full and equal participation of women from the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia in a peace-building process.
As official track 1 processes are under way, there is an urgent need to create space for the inclusion of civil society in the Korean peace process, particularly women representing peace movements. Yet northeast Asia, which has significant differences in language, culture, and ideology, lacks regional mechanisms for addressing peace and security, much less frameworks that involve civil society or women activists. Canada can help support regional mechanisms that can convene multiple voices and interests, most significantly the active participation of women's groups given our positive impact towards reaching peace settlements.
There is now robust evidence on the constructive role women's peace movements play to help realize peace agreements, which have been codified now into international and national policies, such as U.N. Security Council resolution 1325 and, as Patty noted, Canada's women, peace and security policy. Canada can play a significant role supporting a women-led regional peace process by strengthening transnational civil society networks and creating a safe space for women from South Korea, North Korea, U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and other stakeholder nations to establish trust, discuss alternatives and engage with official processes.
Peace processes are about more than just stopping an armed conflict and establishing power sharing arrangements; they establish the foundation for a post-war society. In this moment of rapid change and uncertainty, anything is possible.
Just yesterday at the summit with Shinzo Abe in Florida, President Trump said, “We hope to see the day when the whole Korean peninsula can live together in safety, prosperity and peace.” He added, “This is the destiny of the Korean people...”. What an unbelievable statement, which we would not have imagined just a few months ago. This is, however, a fleeting moment, and if women are not involved in the official peace process and in shaping the way security is defined, they will have far more difficulty adding in transformative initiatives later on.
Let me close by saying that this moment calls for forward-looking states such as Canada to extend its feminist foreign policy to support critical windows of opportunity like this one facing the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia, to ensure that women's rights, gender equality, and genuine human security are at the heart of a Korea peace agreement.
Women Cross DMZ and the Nobel Women's Initiative are partnering with women's peace organizations in South Korea to convene an international women's peace gathering in South Korea from May 23 through 27. Patty Talbot will be on that delegation. It will include a women's peace symposium at the National Assembly and a peace walk in Paju, along the southern border of the DMZ.
We have invited a delegation of North Korean women to come. We have just learned that they will be participating in a May 24 meeting hosted by the UN in Beijing, so we are hopeful that they may indeed join us.
Last week I was in South Korea. In Seoul I met with Ambassador Eric Walsh., He told me that you may be in South Korea at this time, and he has agreed to host a reception for our delegation on May 25 at the Canadian embassy in Seoul.
It would be a great honour for you to meet these courageous women in Korea and other countries around the world, risking their lives to build world peace. I will gratefully submit the names and contact information for key South Korean women leaders whom you should meet on your trip to South Korea.
Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for inviting me to speak today about Canada's engagement in Asia.
My comments will be very specific, in that I'm looking at only one specific part of Asia, and that is Tibet.
As many of you will know, Tibet is located in the western part of China. To the south it borders India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Much of Tibet is a high plateau, averaging approximately 14,000 feet, known as the Roof of the World.
In the early 1950s, Chinese forces launched a military encroachment on Tibet. That eventually led to the takeover of the government and the exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since 1959, the Central Tibetan Administration in India has governed the Tibetan diaspora and steadfastly promoted non-violence and dialogue as its key strategies for reconciliation with China.
Unfortunately, under Chinese rule Tibetans face an onslaught of human rights violations—violations of their economic, social, and cultural rights as well as their civil and political rights. These violations have been well documented by organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. I'm not going to restate them for you here today. Instead, what I'd like to do is highlight four areas—like Ms. Talbot before me, I have four areas to highlight—that I believe are areas in which Canada can and should engage with China over the issue of Tibet.
The first of these is to encourage the resumption of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue. Envoys of the Dalai Lama met with representatives of the Government of China on 10 occasions between 2002 and 2010 in an effort to resolve conflict through dialogue. Since 2010, however, that dialogue has been stalled and has not resumed.
The Central Tibetan Administration advocates what it refers to as the “middle way” approach as a pathway to peace. The middle way seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within the Chinese state and in accordance with China's existing framework for regional autonomy.
I believe that Canada is well-placed to encourage resumption of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue based on the middle path approach, which is not at odds with any Canadian policy and in fact reflects many aspects of the Canadian experience. Canada's familiarity with the challenges of both indigenous and provincial autonomy arrangements serves as a practical example of how to move this project forward.
When the elected leader of the Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, spoke before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights last year, he emphasized that Tibetans are ready to meet their Chinese counterparts any time, anywhere. I encourage the members here today to consider whether and how Canada might facilitate that process.
The second issue I would like to raise is climate change. Tibet is sometimes referred to as the Earth's third pole or as the world's water tower. These descriptors are more than just campaign slogans. They refer to the strategic importance Tibet plays within the global effort to confront climate change. The references are derived from Tibet's unique topography as the world's highest plateau, encompassing the source of Asia's six largest rivers flowing into the world's ten most densely populated countries. Tibet is home to the world's third-largest store of ice and largest source of accessible freshwater on the planet, attributes that represent a common cause between the Tibetan and the Canadian people.
Rising temperatures on the Tibetan plateau also have downstream impacts right across Asia, affecting the pattern of monsoon rains on which much of the region depends. In December 2017, Canada and China announced the cooperation agreement around climate change and environmental protection. The agreement offers yet another opportunity for Canada to engage Chinese counterparts around the Tibetan issue and in doing so to promote policies that will address the important climate challenges in Tibet today.
The third issue I would like to raise is trade. It's an interesting observation that even as China has experienced significant levels of growth, Tibetans remain poor amidst that growth. In fact, the UNDP reports that Tibet is the poorest region of the country.
Because Tibetans experience poverty along with political marginalization, a potential free trade agreement between Canada and China raises numerous red flags. The Canada Tibet Committee is not for or against the FTA, and we don't view this discussion as a choice between advancing human rights or trade. Instead, we are concerned that increased trade and investment from Canada could entrench existing inequalities in Tibet or generate other negative impacts on human rights. We have therefore called upon the Government of Canada to carry out a human rights impact assessment, to be completed early in the process or preferably before formal negotiations are announced.
My fourth issue is reciprocal diplomatic access. You will have read the statement made by Minister Dion in 2016 in response to an Order Paper question. In his statement, the minister described multiple bureaucratic obstacles put in the way of Canadian diplomats seeking to visit Tibet, even when the purpose of their visit was to monitor Canadian-funded projects. When Canadian diplomats were finally able to gain access, their movement was restricted and their activities closely monitored.
Meanwhile, eight official delegations from Tibet were welcomed in Canada between 2009 and 2016, with absolutely no restrictions placed on their travel within the country or on whom they could meet while they were here.
In the United States, the proposed reciprocal access to Tibet act is currently pending in the U.S. Congress. My hope is that Canada will also take action to encourage compliance with this most basic diplomatic principle. The result—more and better access to Tibet—will be a significant step forward in our efforts to monitor the situation inside the country.
In closing, the Central Tibetan Administration has declared 2018 to be a “year of gratitude” towards countries that have supported the Tibetan people over the past many years. The Canada Tibet Committee will be hosting an event in the Canadian Parliament to thank Canada, and I invite each of you to attend and to meet with members of Canada's Tibetan community in person.
Until then, thank you again for this opportunity to speak to you today.
I'll respond in English, if I may.
Just to reiterate what has been said and what Christine has I think mentioned as well, the experience of the last 70 years or so has shown that when there are perceived or actual threats of hostility against North Korea, the reaction there has actually been to increase national security measures to increase repression against its own citizens.
The inverse is also true, that when the rhetoric has been toned down, when it was dialled back during the “sunshine policy”, when there have been opportunities for connection, then the actions around national security and the repression of citizens have been decreased.
Yes, I think you're right. The strategy of sanctions and isolation has not reached the desired goal; it hasn't helped with denuclearization. It has further isolated North Korea. Certainly we know that it has harmed the most vulnerable, and I don't think it's getting us anywhere closer to the goal of a more peaceful peninsula.
Certainly all stick and no carrot is not helping. In January, the maximum pressure was all stick; there was absolutely nothing there for the North Korean leadership to grasp on to. As Christine was saying, there is strong support in South Korea for inter-Korean dialogue, for engagement, for cooperation, for development of mutual and respectful engagement. Yet as we know in most of our own relationships, whether they be family, community, or otherwise, if it's all stick and no dialogue, no negotiation, it's very hard to bring people to the table.
It's a path that still needs to be shaped, but we know that there have been a few stages of North and South Korean women engagement. In the 1990s they were actually first brought together by no other than a Japanese member of parliament. They actually had a series of dialogues in Tokyo, in Pyongyang, and in Seoul. That was from 1991 to 1994.
Then, when inter-Korean relations worsened, that obviously severely restricted their engagement, but during the “sunshine policy” years I think we saw at the height up to 500,000 North and South Koreans crossing the DMZ and meeting one another. After that period of intense engagement, we saw a return to a kind of hardline role for the past 10 years.
Being in South Korea last week, meeting with the pioneers of the South Korean women's peace movement, who really risked their lives—they were called communists and all these things—to engage with women in North Korea.... They're basically dusting off the shelves. They had to freeze all of this engagement during the last decade. You will feel it, when you are there: it's an extraordinarily buzzing and exciting time, I believe, for South Korea.
I believe South Korea is probably the most exciting democracy in the world. For that to be shared with the people in North Korea, to see the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, go to South Korea, to see the transformations in South Korea.... This is a moment.
The point I made at the close of my opening remarks was that there is a peace process right now. Hopefully it will proceed, but right now is the moment for us to be engaging. If you see images of the North and South Korean leaders' meeting, it is all men. Even though South Korea has a female foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, it is all men.
Where are the women? It's a fabulous process. We applaud the track 1, but where are the women's peace groups to ensure that there will be a lasting peace?
My call is for Canada, which has an amazing feminist foreign policy and has put hard Canadian dollars behind it, to support a multi-year round table of women from Northeast Asia to come together to dialogue about what should be in a peace agreement that would advance women's security.
We are not able to do it, but now, because of the opening and the fact that two North Korean women will attend a UN meeting in China that is happening concurrently with our meeting in South Korea and we have heard from the Ministry of Unification from South Korea that we have a fifty-fifty chance that North Korean women will join us for an international symposium, we are in a moment.
I hope you can be there in South Korea as we all convene, to feel and witness this transformation that is taking place.
Thank you, and thank you for the opportunity to appear.
I would like to address Canada's engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically in security issues.
Canada has a long history of engagement on security issues in this region, beginning with our participation in World War II, the Korean War, and our participation during the Vietnam War on the International Commission of Control and Supervision, the ICCS. We were a founding [Technical difficulty—Editor] in 1990; we were a co-organizer of the South China Sea dialogues in 1990; and we were a founding member of the Council for Security Co-operation in the Asia-Pacific, or CSCAP, in 1992.
In recent years, however, Canada has disengaged significantly from security files in the region, beginning primarily in the early 2000s. We stepped back from virtually all of the tables at which we were present earlier in a very fruitful way. For example, Canada has now lapsed from membership in CSCAP twice. At the moment, we are the only country who is not a member in good standing.
The causes of this disengagement are complex, but in my view, essentially two main factors predominate.
The first is a single-minded focus that Canadian governments have had recently on economic opportunity, beginning with the Team Canada mission to China under Prime Minister Chrétien in November 2001 and epitomized by Prime Minister Harper's trade mission to China and Japan in 2013. Additionally, resource constraints have been significant and particularly significant for the participation of the Canadian Armed Forces in routine patrols of the western Pacific.
An important part of election platform was re-engagement, captured by the phrase “Canada is back”. This phrase was greeted with great enthusiasm in the region. There is widespread disappointment, however, at the moment with Canada's performance to date. So far, Canada still has no articulated Asia-Pacific strategy. There was an effort in 2014 in the Department of Foreign Affairs—the predecessor to Global Affairs Canada—to craft an Asia-Pacific strategy, but this effort was nixed by the Prime Minister's Office in 2014.
Canada has made repeated overtures to join the East Asia Summit and the ADMM-Plus, without bringing anything to the table. While Canada's appointment of an ambassador to ASEAN in 2017 was widely welcomed in the region—as is, by the way, the recent deployment of HMCS Chicoutimi to help enforce North Korean economic sanctions—there still remains great skepticism in the region about Canada's seriousness in re-engaging on security issues and Canada's ability to play the long game.
This is a loss for Canada, and it is a loss for the region. The Asia-Pacific is unique culturally in important ways. One key cultural characteristic of diplomacy in the region is that one cannot fully engage at one table without engaging at all tables. Canada does not have the luxury of playing carte blanche politics, seeking only economic opportunities without addressing other issues of concern to the region. The Asia-Pacific is not a transaction place; it is a place where serious diplomacy, serious politics, requires sustained relational engagement. Canada squanders economic and other opportunities by not engaging more robustly on security issues.
Canada stands to lose by not engaging, and the region stands to lose by Canada's not re-engaging, because Canada has demonstrated its value to the region time and time again, as a helpful contributor to dialogue and helpful contributor to confidence building. Most recently, for example, Canadian CSCAP participation was key to preventing a second air defence identification zone crisis, this time over the south Pacific.
What is needed? Canada needs first an Asia-Pacific strategy; secondly, a long-term commitment of personnel and resources; thirdly, to leverage its considerable expertise and experience, particularly at the track 2 level.
Thank you very much.
First of all, I thank the foreign affairs and international development committee for giving me this opportunity to address you. I've been studying China and Asian affairs for 48 years now, and 44 years ago I was one of the earliest beneficiaries of our bilateral relations when I was among the second group of students to go to China under the Canada-China scholars' exchange program.
Three prime ministerial trips to Asia over the last six months illustrate the confused state of our diplomacy towards that part of the world. At a time when the U.S. administration threatens the multilateral global trading order, the world's largest economy and the world's largest exporter and second-largest economy are currently engaged in a trade war. Canada's Asian diplomacy is strongly missing in action. We have no coherent strategy and no coherent plan. This is not a new problem and is not a problem of the current government only. The previous government was equally guilty.
Asia represents the largest share of the global economy, at about 35%, with China leading. North America today represents about 27% of the global economy, with Europe third at about 22%. Not only does Asia represent the largest slice of the global economy, but this slice is rising faster than the rest of the global economy. In simple terms, just holding on to our share of the North American trade through NAFTA will condemn us to an ever-shrinking share of the global economy. Furthermore, given the protectionism of the current U.S. administration, it will leave us without allies to help preserve the global multilateral trading order.
The global affairs minister's programmatic speech to the House of Commons last June 6 virtually ignored Asia as a focus of our diplomacy and gave it virtually no role in maintaining our traditional middle power diplomacy. Canada's participation in the TPP was originally defensive, intended to protect the advantages of NAFTA against the aggressive U.S. move to deepen integration with the Asia-Pacific. It is to the credit of this government and the previous one that they persisted even as the United States withdrew. However, our performance in Da Nang, with our last-minute hesitancy at the altar, undermined the trust of principal Asia-Pacific partners, particularly Japan and Australia. We may have fatally prejudiced further invitations to the East Asia Summit. I am pleased that Canada signed on to the CPTPP in January. However, this is only one step.
China's place in our economic and political engagement is controversial but at the same time indispensable. China is the world's second-largest economy and its largest exporter. Since the beginning of this century, it alone has been responsible for over 30% of global growth. The figure for last year was 34% of global growth. It is also our second-largest trading partner, but one where our performance has been continuously slipping.
Our deficit with China is larger than our exports. For every dollar we export, we import more than three. There is no question that China is a difficult market, and the political complexion and ambitions of the Chinese regime make it even more so. However, free trade negotiations, which have been on the agenda ever since we completed a complementarity study at the beginning of this decade, are probably our best hope to resolve the difficult issues that divide us. The process may be more important than the outcome. The negotiation process is the only context in which we can get a hearing on our interests. In order to do so, we must be clear about what those economic interests are, and forthright about presenting them.
If we are looking for greater reciprocity—and that's a word we often hear with regard to China—in terms of market openness, non-tariff barriers, and a whole range of issues in the government procurement and services sectors, that is where we should raise them, in the course of free trade negotiations. Moreover, we should not sign an agreement without a robust dispute settlement process.
I would further argue that the best time to engage in these negotiations is right now. Such an opportunity may not come again. As the world's largest exporter, China has a vested interest in open trade. Its continued prosperity depends on it.
Already, in January 2017 China's president, Xi Jinping, laid claim to becoming the mainstay of the multilateral trading order in his speech to Davos. Last week, in his speech to the Boao Forum, a kind of Asian Davos, he further reiterated this claim to openness and further reiterated his desire to open markets.
Many remain skeptical, and for good reason: China has engaged in a variety of mercantilist policies in its domestic market to advantage domestic firms. Nonetheless, with a trade war looming with the U.S., right now is the time that China needs to prove its commitment to an open multilateral trading order, and what better way to do so than with its first free trade agreement with a G7 country, Canada?
Negotiations will be tough, and we should not sign just any agreement China might offer, but we have a lot to gain and the Chinese have a major stake in proving their bona fides to the world at a time when the U.S. trade representative's office argues that it was a mistake to allow China into the WTO in the first place.
There are many other issues that divide us besides trade and investment. We have large differences over human rights and the rule of law as well as over many other aspects of governance. We cannot resolve all these through trade negotiations; we should consider parallel mechanisms whereby we can hope to bridge our differences. I have proposed a joint commission of retired justices and academics, which would consider areas of controversy and advise on best practices. Since China is a country that proclaims it is governed by law, its government should be open to an honest and dispassionate dialogue on questions of principle.
We need to get our house in order. Clearly, oil and gas exports could go a long way to reversing our deficit, but we need to get those energy supplies to tidewater, and the federal government has the constitutional authority to do so. Furthermore, we should explicitly tie our oil and gas exports to reducing Chinese dependence on burning coal. This would have a positive effect on the carbon balance.
We should also jointly explore devoting a percentage of the profits of fossil fuel exports towards developing green energy technologies. It is possible to be environmentally responsible and an energy exporter in the context of an energy transition, and the Chinese, who are world leaders in the technology of energy transition, are best placed to be our partner in this endeavour.
Nonetheless, we should have no illusions about the nature of the Chinese government. On a whole range of issues, its values are not our own. However, there can be no doubt about China's sincere and abiding commitment to global stability and multilateral institutions centred on the UN system. Even its retaliatory measures against the U.S. tariffs have been carried out strictly within the rules of the WTO, and Chinese leaders reaffirm their allegiance to open, multilateral trade.
We can build on this platform, and we should distinguish Chinese diplomacy from Russian moves that are heedless of global norms and disruptive of global order. China is a global competitor in every sense of the term; however, the Chinese are sophisticated global players who are willing to engage proactively to manage competition and pre-empt confrontation. Moreover, China is very sensitive about its global image. Given our own positive global image, we can leverage that to our advantage.
At the same time, we cannot engage China alone. We have a strategic partnership with the Republic of Korea and share abiding contacts with our Commonwealth cousins, Australia and New Zealand. All three of these countries have free trade agreements with China and, like us, alliance relations with the U.S. We should share information and coordinate closely with them in our engagement with China.
Furthermore, Canada, Australia, and South Korea are countries of comparable size and global reach. South Korean officials have emphasized their desire to deepen our relationship as part of the strategic dialogue. We should consider deepening our bilateral ties and finding new ways of multilateral engagement, possibly through engagement with MIKTA, the middle countries alliance, part of the G20.
Japan and India are also partners of choice. While we should avoid entanglement in the complex historical disputes of China and Japan, we have much to share and much to learn. Japan is one of our major trading partners and now a fellow signatory to the CPTPP, an ally of the U.S., and a G7 partner. India is a Commonwealth partner with a growing economy and is the homeland of a dynamic community of immigrants to Canada.
We have bungled our relationship with India in an embarrassing manner. Just to give one example, when our was visiting India, at that very moment Japan, India, the U.S., and Australia announced their quadrilateral response to China's belt and road initiative. Canada was neither involved nor consulted.
We need to engage India not just to secure votes from diaspora communities but to enhance our trade and global diplomacy. We should treat Indian diplomacy with respect and find ways to coordinate policies at a working group level and not just carp endlessly about the will-'o-the-wisp economic opportunities at times of ministerial or head-of-government visits.
We need a comprehensive approach to our Asian diplomacy that engages the countries I just mentioned, but also of course ASEAN, the premier Asian multilateral organization, and we should work with all these countries to both strengthen the multilateral trading order and to ensure that a growing China abides by global norms.
I do not suggest that successive Canadian governments have not recognized opportunities in Asia and have not expended resources on trans-Pacific engagement. They have. I also applaud the additional resources in the recent federal budget. Our efforts, however, have been piecemeal, discontinuous, uncoordinated, and incoherent. It is time to change that.
Australia produced a white paper, Australia in the Asian Century. We need a similar strategic document to guide our public officials on a non-partisan basis and coordinate public policy to make our diplomacy effective and to secure advantages in the interest of all Canadians.
Thank you for hearing me out. I look forward to your questions.
Thanks, Chair, and thanks for having me, everyone. This is obviously an issue of great importance.
I'm going to limit my remarks to a high-level overview of the region's security landscape, and if I leave anything out, we can take it up in the Q and A, because it's a very big region. This is to provide the context that we are going to engage in.
In my view, the security situation in the Asia-Pacific really turns on three things: China, the United States, and everybody else. I'll take each in turn.
With respect to China, I'm often asked by friends and colleagues what China wants. It might be foolhardy to try to answer that here, but I'm going to try anyway.
China has really been composed of two separate entities at its highest level. There are 1.4 billion people who live there and get up every day and go about their business, and there are 90 million members of the Chinese Communist Party. The first group, the 1.4 billion people, really want what everyone else wants, which is the opportunity to improve their lot in life. Different types of people have different degrees of advantages. An urban-dwelling person of Han Chinese descent has considerably more advantages than a rural-dwelling person of non-Han Chinese descent. However, ultimately these people all want the same thing.
The Chinese Communist Party wakes up every day and thinks about how it can stay in power. That is its only objective all day, every day, and that will not change.
The social contract in China basically asks citizens to accept the state's intrusion into certain areas of their life in exchange for the freedom to pursue economic prosperity. There's an obvious and perhaps irreconcilable tension there. As China has opened up to the world, the forces that perhaps increase individual liberty have entered the country, and these have pushed up against the state in some very conspicuous ways. When this happens, the state pushes back quite hard.
The result is that China is now approaching a surveillance state, both online, where censorship is the norm, and in the real world, where there are cameras on almost every street corner in some cities. People who express their opinions freely online are often reprimanded quite harshly, and in some cases are actually put on prime-time television the next day, issuing a mea culpa and reinforcing the state narrative.
The Chinese social contract has actually proven to have considerable staying power, but there is an argument that it's under threat. To a lot of observers, the Chinese economy needs to undergo a rebalancing. It is currently expanding on investment-led growth, and it needs a shift from investment to consumption. To make that happen, it has to let its currency appreciate, and that will necessarily bring turmoil to the average working Chinese citizen. It's going to lead to an erosion in the populace's confidence in the Chinese social contract. I think that's the origin of why you've seen Xi Jinping going to such great lengths to secure his leadership of the country for the foreseeable future, by removing term limits to his presidency.
All this is simply to say one thing about China's foreign policy and its foreign relations: China's foreign policy is a direct extension of the Chinese Communist Party's desire to stay in power. All of its foreign policy decisions have to conform with that objective. In that respect, and on a foreign policy basis, China's foreign policy needs to conform with the myths that Chinese people have been fed from the time they were born. These myths include that Taiwan was once a part of China, that the South China Sea was once a part of China, and that Tibet or the Xinjiang province were once parts of China. These are all untrue, but Chinese people insist this is the case, and so China's foreign policy has to act as if it is the case.
Turning to the United States, I'd suggest that we're actually seeing less change in U.S. foreign policy in the region than we have in other areas of the world. President Trump's foreign policy in some respects reflects a long-standing tension in U.S. foreign policy between internationalist and isolationist tendencies: the internationalist side pursuing global leadership, and at the same time the isolationist side not liking it when those consequences are too great to bear. Certainly on the latter side, the isolationists' retrenchment pieces have become more popular in the United States ever since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have drawn on.
However, there is no mistake: the United States is an Asia-Pacific power, and its military strength underwrites much of the security in the region. U.S. forces are based in South Korea, Japan, and Guam, and there's a navy base in Hawaii. All this contributes to all manner of east-Asian security contingencies, from disaster relief operations to what happens to the nukes when North Korea collapses, should that happen. That is what they think about all the time.
The United States' presence in the region is actually pretty tolerated, or accepted at least. Most of the debates in the region turn on how close China should be with the United States, not whether the United States should be in China and what its role is. In fact, it's only in recent memory that China has actually begun to overtly reject this U.S. presence, and mostly around the islands of the South China Sea, because China obviously sees these islands as its own, versus the United States, which prefers to sail through them freely.
The Chinese rejection of U.S. presence used to be limited to rather forthright interceptions of U.S. military assets, but that has morphed more recently into reclamation activities in the South China Sea that are basically trying to make little rocks in the South China Sea function as small military bases. There are runways. There are missile batteries in some cases, apparently. There's also electronic warfare equipment. The entire objective there is to make the South China Sea a very dangerous place for the U.S. Navy to sail.
The Trump administration, in this respect, has actually maintained one of the more celebrated aspects of the Obama administration's foreign policy in Asia, which is the freedom of navigation program. This is a program in which the U.S. Navy and the State Department collaborate to démarche what the United States perceives to be excessive maritime claims, and the navy goes and carries out an operation to express the U.S. interpretation of what is inappropriate conduct in that area. China, in this case, claims that a number of rocks in the South China Sea are in fact islands, and if they're islands it's entitled to more maritime space. That argument was soundly rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016.
Accordingly, the United States Navy sails within 12 nautical miles of these features to basically tell China, “No, China, this island is actually a rock and we can go up to 50 feet or 500 metres from the rock.” These missions have not only continued under Trump but actually increased in tempo.
Nevertheless, the Trump administration campaigned on a foreign policy of retrenchment. You see that in the attitude towards what we used to call the TPP, the trans-Pacific Partnership. That was probably based on a broader skepticism of trade deals generally, but it did call into question the United States' commitment to Asia.
Trade and security go hand in hand everywhere in the world, and in Asia in particular. More of one means more of the other, and this is true for the U.S. and China as well, with both articulating competing visions of regional trade architecture in the region. Time will tell how serious the Trump administration is on re-engagement with the TPP, but the region is watching with interest, and so should we.
This brings me to the third piece, which is everyone else. “Everyone else” includes Australia and Japan, which are U.S. allies as a matter of course and a matter of values in some respects; South Korea and India, which pursue the alliance with the United States for other reasons, a little more self-interested in most cases; then the countries of Southeast Asia, of which there are a number. In Southeast Asia each country plays the United States versus China along a spectrum of engagement: Cambodia on one end, and maybe Singapore on the far end of a sort of pro-China versus anti-China spectrum.
Singapore does a good job of managing its relationship. It is engaged in both of the trading conversations in the region: the TPP—the U.S.-centred, or now, I suppose, the New Zealand-centred initiative—versus the regional comprehensive economic partnership, which was seen to be China-led but really incorporates the countries of Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea. Likewise, it has a very good defence relationship with the United States, and it manages to stay out of the region's maritime disputes as best as it can.
Australia, likewise, has always tried to manage an economic relationship with China and a security relationship with the United States. That relationship has soured recently because Chinese navy ships have turned up in waters that are a little close to Australia, and Australia is also concerned about the impact of Chinese influence on its domestic politics.
At the strategic level, countries in the region are aware that China's vision of what the region ought to look like is different from the way it looks now. It's also increasingly clear, in my view, that East Asian countries share the perspective that the United States is an important player in the region, a perspective that China increasingly rejects.
We're seeing this manifested in two ways. First, you're seeing closer U.S. defence ties with non-traditional security partners such as Vietnam, for example. A U.S. aircraft carrier just visited there. That was unforeseen 10 years ago. I never thought I'd see that in my career, but here we are. Likewise, we're also seeing bilateral and trilateral security arrangements among U.S. allies, without the U.S. actually participating. Some of that falls apart on underlying bilateral tensions between the two countries: I'm thinking of Japan and South Korea, which have always been working on an intelligence-sharing agreement but can't get it done because of the history between those countries. Professor Paltiel referred to the quadrilateral security dialogue among Japan, India, Australia, and the United States.
In any event, there's a tacit consensus in the region that for the majority of governments in that region to pursue a flexible foreign policy, a strong U.S. presence is required. In the absence of that U.S. presence, there's no doubt that China makes the rules.
By way of conclusion, I offer three quick take-aways. First, remember that Chinese foreign policy is an extension of its domestic policy. Consequently, there can be little doubt in China's resolve to assert itself in disputes that it defines as being part of its territorial integrity—I'm thinking of the things I mentioned earlier. Secondly, the American presence as a military force, as a maker of rules, is indispensable to security in the region. This is why a change of heart in the TPP could be important. Finally, paradoxically, the demand for U.S. security presence in the region is stronger now at a time when the strength of it has never been less sure. This is the security environment in which Canada is seeking to engage.
I'm just looking at the clock to see how long I have to answer this. There's a lot there.
The China-Japan relationship turns on a lot of things. They have a territorial dispute between the two of them. Japan, as a user of the South China Sea, is very worried about what the Chinese policy in the South China Sea is, but that relationship turns on a lot more, right? As a consequence of whatever the trade conflict is right now, you actually see China and Japan talking more closely about trade. Japan understands that a China-U.S. trade dispute is not good for them. It's a relationship that has a lot of baggage to it and a lot of security concerns, but both of those countries are capable of being very pragmatic in their bilateral relationship.
As for the South China Sea and where China will go, I think China's end game is a world where it can sail the South China Sea without the United States sailing through there freely—and that takes time. To date, no country of strength has pushed back against China's reclamation activities to make that harder for them to do.
I think part of the reason is that ultimately the South China Sea just isn't that important, frankly, to any country of strength. It's very important to the Southeast Asian countries. It's very important to Japan and the United States as a sea lane, but reclamation activities do not pose an existential threat to the United States—or at least American policy-makers do not accept that they do. I'm sure there are many who would argue that having a missile battery in the South China Sea within range of an aircraft carrier is a big threat, and it is, but the U.S. political elite does not seem to accept that it is an issue in the totality of the U.S.-China relationship. Also, accepting that progress in global climate change is part of that relationship, it hasn't seemed to date that it is an issue upon which they're going to let their relationship collapse, right?
I think China will continue to go as far as any country lets it, and even then, what do you do? If China is occupying an island that it claims as its own, trying to remove the Chinese forces would start a conflict.
As I said, Canada was a founding member of CSCAP. It's a track 2 dialogue, but with a lot of track 1.2 participants. In some cases, it's scholars who are member-country delegates. In others, it's the retired diplomats who are member-country delegates.
CSCAP provides an opportunity for the countries in the region to discuss a range of issues that leaders cannot discuss because these issues are too sensitive and too complicated. It's an exchange of information and ideas. Delegations usually go back to their home governments after meetings and working groups, and report the findings. In many cases, there's a significant effect on the policies of member-country governments.
As I said, Canada has lapsed twice. There was a three-year window when Canada was back in business in CSCAP, which just ended last year. I was the Canadian co-chair for the CSCAP Canada delegation.
To give you an example, my research team from the Centre for International Governance Innovation did the only study existing in the world on air defence identification zones: what they are; how they operate; what their implications are for aviation safety, security, legal matters, and territorial and maritime disputes. I briefed that to the CSCAP members, and they took it home. I subsequently got a message from a colleague in the foreign ministry in China thanking me for the very helpful Canadian contribution. It had been very useful in helping persuade people in Beijing not to implement another air defence identification zone in the South China Sea. In other words, that was a win for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China, which understood that it was a bad idea, over the People's Liberation Army, which was enthusiastic about it.
So, that's the kind of thing that can happen through an organization such as CSCAP, and it's very inexpensive. For $100,000 a year, Canada could be a full participant in all CSCAP activities, but at the moment, there is no funding. In fact, we're in arrears. Frankly, it's embarrassing, and it's a missed opportunity for Canada, as well as for the organization.
Good afternoon, gentlemen. It's a treat to have all three of you here.
I have five hours' worth of questions, but I think only five minutes of time.
All of you indirectly or directly have talked about maritime power, which brings my attention back to Admiral Alfred Mahan, who said that military power had to be balanced by economic power and that any country who wants to have national greatness must be associated with the sea.
I think we've gone through the military aspect over the last hour or so. Mr. Welch has mentioned the air defence identification zone.
Mr. Paltiel, you've written about the exclusive economic zones and how China has the ability and the sovereign right under UNCLOS to inspect all traffic.
One thing we didn't get into—and I don't think we have enough time—is the fact that there are a lot of resources in the South China Sea. It's just not a waterway where $5 trillion worth of traffic goes, because there are also barrels of oil at an estimated $11 billion, and an estimated 190 million cubic feet of natural gas. So there are minerals there also.
Looking at the military side of it, you mentioned that in terms of the encroachment on the islands and things like that. However, I want to get to the economic side, because I think that's the other part of Mahan's equation. Right now what you see is a regional comprehensive economic partnership that is currently being negotiated, and I don't think there is a lot of dialogue on that. When you look at that comprehensive agreement, you're talking about ASEAN+6, accounting for $49.5 trillion and 39% of the world's GDP.
You have the military bases in Southeast Asia, and now you're having the economic bases. How is that going to affect the dynamics in the region?
Mr. Welch, you mentioned that after the recent arbitration between the Philippines and China, the latter has not done anything. However, as you know, China's politics is also about patience. I'm wondering how this is all tying together. How do you think the RCEP will affect regional stability? Will it help on the military side to calm the tensions in the South China Sea, or is this another attempt to sort of further encroach into south China, but, on top of that, also help the one belt, one road initiative?
Let me just say a few words.
First of all, I think that in the case of Southeast Asia, the economy came first; the military came much later. I think, in that sense, that's a good reason for optimism because, at the end of the day, China has to have good relations with its neighbours.
China's posture took off at the beginning of this century, largely because during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, China didn't devalue the renminbi and therefore undercut the ASEAN countries and their exports. Then it built on that, moving towards free trade with ASEAN and putting the wind behind free trade in the region when it established its ASEAN+3 relationship.
Because of that relationship and because ASEAN is so important to China, I think China will still be cautious in how far it pushes its neighbours in that region on the military and other side. Because it is its own backyard, it would like to have a positive image. It would also like to engage them in trade.
I am relatively confident. I also think they may well end up negotiating the code of conduct on the South China Seas, which they've said they were supposed to negotiate by the end of this year. It may well happen, because China needs its neighbours and because it's looking over its shoulder at the U.S.
The issue for us—and the interesting thing—is that now that we've signed the CPTPP, what relationship will the CPTPP have with the RCEP? What is the future of free trade in the Asia-Pacific, which has been talked about as far as APEC is concerned for over 20 years. There will be a new momentum there for completing free trade within the Asia-Pacific.
I am excited about that. I think we should use this as bridging, if we're negotiating free trade with China, toward a comprehensive regional free trade framework. That would put wind in the sails of global free trade.