Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It's an honour to appear before this committee today.
In listening to some of the deliberations of this committee and the witnesses from whom you have already heard, I note three occasionally recurrent and, in my view, fallacious premises.
First is the premise that China is a frozen-in-time singularity, a monolithic, ideologically driven, unchanging country.
Second is the premise that the policy of broad and fulsome engagement has failed and that it was principally and naively aimed at changing China internally.
Third is the premise that there is out there somewhere, simply waiting to be formulated, a comprehensive and coherent new “China policy” to serve as a course correction for all of Canada's involvement with this huge and enormously complex China.
Before I say a little about each of these, here is a word on the historical context. When Xi Jinping came to power, there was initially no indication that he would divert China from its 35-year-long road of domestic reform and international co-operation and convergence. But in spite of early reformist indications, in 2014 he launched a comprehensive counter-reform agenda.
He announced the “made in China 2025” program to indigenize and dominate key economic sectors. He reversed SOE reform, halted social and legal reform, suppressed freedom of expression and religious tolerance, especially in Muslim areas, reinforced the great Chinese firewall and greatly expanded state control of the media and the Internet. The aims were clear: to reverse the decline of the party and the state, restore national ideological purity, overcome China's technological subservience to the west and reassert China's role on the global stage.
In addressing the first of the three premises, I would remind that China today is not the China of 1959 or 1966, nor is Xi Jinping Stalin or Kim Jong-un. There is no doubt that he has centralized power to an extent not known since Mao Zedong, and that the Communist Party and the Chinese state speak with a single aggressive voice, accompanied by actions that sometimes border on the brutish, as Canada has regrettably learned.
Yet Xi Jinping and the party leadership know that to govern, they need the support of both the population and a broad range of elites. While the state speaks internationally with a single and unyielding voice, there is a broader array of views and voices among the Chinese elites whose support is necessary to Xi's rule. I personally hear unhappiness among both reformist state and private sector business leaders, and we all hear of push-back in academic circles and among young stars of film and television, and Internet influencers. Throughout all these communities, as well as in think tanks and in progressive internationalist corners of the state bureaucracy, there are many who regret the growing anti-China sentiment abroad and who dislike watching their country leaving the gradualist paths of increased institutionalization of the rule of law and a co-operative foreign policy.
The lack of democratic elections in China does not mean that effective feedback loops do not exist. If I have learned anything about China during some 45 years of observation and 20 years of living there, it's that China is in constant evolution. Whenever I have assumed stasis for the status quo or that voices calling for change have been permanently sidelined, I have inevitably been proven wrong.
As to the second premise, I would like to dispute that the general policy of engagement with China has failed. Indeed, the widespread and more or less continuous Canadian consensus around a robust engagement with China has brought economic benefits across the breadth and depth of Canada, but it has also helped China improve its food security, become more effective in the fight against international crime, and engage co-operatively on environmental matters and in global efforts to deal with climate change.
It has unquestionably led to a generally co-operative China in multinational institutions, more rules-based behaviour in international trade and economic matters, better respect—not perfect, but better—for intellectual property, and a practice of accepting the rulings of the WTO, unlike the case with some other countries.
It has also resulted in Canadians from a vast array of professions, pursuits and backgrounds building wide-ranging relationships with Chinese counterparts, giving us a collective understanding of, and influence in, government circles and with the leaders of business, academic, and artistic and sports communities. It has produced a very broadly supported positive image of Canada and Canadians among the general Chinese citizenry.
Engagement has always been principally aimed at serving Canadian interests, and only indirectly at encouraging systemic internal change in China. Engagement does not mean making friction-free or good relations the priority. It means playing with a full team of talented players, not playing with an empty net.
We can and do welcome Chinese investment, making sure that the rules we establish for corporate behaviour are strictly followed. When matters of national security are at stake, we can and should use our formidable capabilities and intelligence to determine ourselves whether and how the activities of Chinese companies should be fenced off and limited.
We can and must play defence when required, making clear that there are lines that should not be crossed, lines that need to be defended when Canadians are mistreated in China, when we see misbehaviour on Canadian campuses, when we find interference and even extortion in the Canadian-Chinese communities, or when there is abuse of our unreciprocated press and media openness.
In spite of those who argue for a shift to some sort of containment policy—perhaps encouraged by our friends to the south, who seem genetically programmed to divide the world between friends and enemies—choosing not to engage with China is not a rational option. As it is increasingly internationalist, one of the world's two largest economies, China impacts our interests everywhere: in global capital flows, international financial stability, critical supply chains, and globalizing epidemics. In all matters impacting the earth's commons, from climate change to illegal drug trades and international financial crime, China is and will remain an essential world player.
That Canadians in every walk of life have developed relationships of exchange, trust and influence with Chinese counterparts, who in turn can influence their country's behaviour in their respective areas, is vital to the promotion and protection of real and long-term Canadian interests.
Finally, the fallacy of the third premise is evident from that of the first two. The promotion and protection of Canadian interests and values, which is what foreign policy is, cannot be reduced to a simplistic China policy, as some have suggested. If I were to propose that we should have a new United States policy, you would dismiss me as a simpleton. Canadian interests in and relationships with our neighbour to the south are far too deep and varied to be corralled into a simplistic framework. We have learned that not only does our government need to pursue a close and influential relationship with the administration in Washington but also our country needs to have a vast network of other relationships with congressional, regional, municipal, business, academic and other American leaders. We do not allow the pursuit and protection of our interests in the United States to be derailed by a change in national government, by an unwanted departure from past policies or commitments, or by the particular if not peculiar pronouncements of a leader we have no influence in choosing.
We know that turning our backs on the positive and potential in our transborder relationship is not an option. When challenged, we gear up, not down. We would do well to approach China in the same way.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I am a career diplomat, having spent 39 years with Global Affairs Canada, including 13 years in China: 2 years in Hong Kong and 11 years in Beijing. I was an ambassador for the last four years of that period, from 2012 to 2016.
Today, I would like to discuss three topics: the state of bilateral relations, China under Xi Jinping and, finally, the adjustments required, in my view, to Canada's engagement strategy with China.
Before we get started, let me give you some of my main messages. This committee provides an opportunity not only to take stock of the bilateral relationship, but also to adjust Canada's engagement strategy towards China.
It has become very difficult to remain ambivalent on China after having been victims of their brutal retaliatory measures following the arrest of Mrs. Meng Wanzhou and also knowing how they interfere in Hong Kong and the treatment given to Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
Colin Robertson pointed out the following in the Globe and Mail last July:
We need a realistic, not a romantic, China policy. It should start with the recognition that China is an authoritarian state, a strategic competitor and systemic rival. It will never follow Western democratic norms because that would destabilize the Communist Party—the root and base of the People’s Republic of China.
As a result, we have to review our engagement strategy with China and base our approach on the protection of our values and on reciprocity. It also means diversifying our trade to other countries in Asia. As well, we need to work with partners to reinforce the multilateral system. Domestically, we need to react strongly to any interference attempt by the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese government. Similar to Australia, we need to adopt laws to prevent such interference. Finally, we need to continue to develop our competencies to better understand China, as it is not going away.
Let me turn to bilateral relations. As you know, all official dialogue is suspended. There are very few and limited official contacts. Fifteen months into the crisis, what has been the impact of the strategy pursued by the Canadian government so far? While Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have finally had access to a lawyer, there is some uncertainty as to where the legal process stands for them. Their trial could be announced any day. If so, it will take 18 to 24 months before they are sentenced. Once the process starts, it will become a lot more difficult to get them out. I lived through that with Kevin and Julia Garratt. Plus, we have no word from the Chinese supreme court on the appeal of Robert Schellenberg's death sentence. China has warned us that there will be no improvement in the relationship until Mrs. Meng Wanzhou is freed. Unless the judge decides in June that Meng’s rights were not respected when she was arrested, and she is then released, her extradition process will drag on for years.
On the trade front, our exports last year to China dropped 16%, or $4.5 billion, and will likely drop further this year because of the impact of COVID-19 and the trade deal between China and the U.S.A. Plus, we could be subject to further measures if the government decides that Huawei will not participate in 5G development in Canada. In summary, we have to brace ourselves for years of difficult relations.
Howard spoke about China under Xi Jinping. I will summarize my comments here, because I agree with all he said on Xi Jinping. This crisis shows the challenges of dealing with a superpower that ignores international rules when they are not to its liking and does not hesitate to severely punish countries that refuse to obey its diktats. While Canada is not the first country to be at the receiving end of China’s displeasure, it is the first time where a country has rallied support from allies. In fact, this also illustrates how China has become a lot more assertive, aggressive and, I would say, arrogant since Xi Jinping took control of the Communist Party in November 2012. Of course, the ongoing crisis related to COVID-19 is having a very severe impact on the Chinese economy. It comes after a difficult 2019 for Xi Jinping, with the situation in Hong Kong not resolved, electoral results not to his liking in Taiwan, the trade war with the U.S., which has slowed down the Chinese economy, and the African swine flu epidemic.
It also makes it almost impossible to meet two of his goals—namely, eliminating poverty this year and China becoming a comprehensively well-off society. For that, he needs growth of at least 5.6%, and I think it's likely to be around 4% to 5%. While there is a lot of popular discontent, I don't think the Xi leadership is under threat.
This leads me to my third point and the key question for Canada and other western countries: Is it possible to have normal relations with China? I would argue that despite the ongoing problems that could mar the relationship for years, we have to look at where we want to be 10 years from now. Despite the slowdown of its economy, and especially the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, China can continue to grow at 4% to 6% for many years. I base this on its urbanization rate, which is still low at about 59%, and its plan to move to an economy where growth will be based on consumption and services. Of course, debt has to be watched. It stands now at about 300% of GDP. All of this is to say that China will remain an important market for Canadian exporters.
In my view, there are a number of measures the government could take, both bilaterally and multilaterally. On the bilateral side, as a starting point we should define our fundamental values and interests. Therefore, there should be no tolerance for freelancing by Chinese investigators in Canada to repatriate economic fugitives and no tolerance for interference in Canadian politics, on Canadian campuses, and in the Canadian Chinese community. As I mentioned earlier, I encourage you to look at the four laws adopted by Australia to prevent interference in its internal affairs. There should be no tolerance for spying by the Chinese government or the People's Liberation Army to gain a commercial advantage. In fact, we should expel Chinese spies when they are discovered, or charge perpetrators of espionage.
As well, I think we should announce that we will no longer pursue a free trade agreement with China. We should launch a special review of an ongoing collaboration on artificial intelligence. This would be to try to ensure that Canadian technology is not used to put in place the social credit system in China. Also, we should look at the bilateral investment treaty to see if changes are required. We should conduct more rigorous and sustained inspections of Chinese products to ensure they satisfy our safety standards. We should announce that we will redeploy trade commissioners to other countries in Asia and take advantage of free trade agreements while looking at ways to better support companies in China. In my view, we should apply reciprocity in terms of Chinese government access in Ottawa to make it similar to what Ambassador Barton has in Beijing. What I have in mind is that no federal minister should accept an invitation to lunch or dinner at the Chinese embassy.
As Howard said, we have to continue to work with China on global issues, such as climate change—months ago, in fact, I was thinking about pandemics, and now we are in the middle of one—economic issues and nuclear proliferation. There are many areas in which Canada can offer a lot to China.
Huawei has been discussed a lot. I worked on this issue when I was ambassador. I think we should open the 5G process to all public companies and adopt a position similar to that of the United Kingdom. So far, the approach pursued by CSE, whereby all equipment is tested before being deployed in Canada, has worked. Again, the government, and business for that matter, will have to increase their capacity to understand China better and to ensure a well-informed and more sophisticated approach to China.
On the multilateral front, clearly Canada is not in a position to criticize China much by itself on its trade practices or human rights. We must recognize that our capacity to influence is very limited. As China is concerned about its international reputation, we should continue to seek support from allies, including in Asia from Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, to démarche the Chinese government to release our prisoners, but we should also think about developing a strategy to join efforts on issues of common concern in order to prevent China from punishing another country that does something that displeases it. We should also make joint démarches in Beijing on the situation in Xinjiang or human rights abuses and call on China to respect its own constitution and improve the way it administers justice. This is also important to reassure foreign investors.
We should also look at ways to better support democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan. We should work also with allies on common approaches to Chinese opposition of foreign technology and investment in general, on ensuring that China delivers on the promises it made when it joined the WTO, and on pushing for the respect of international norms, so as to ensure that the multilateral system works and is not undermined, and that obligations apply to all.
In conclusion, as Kurt Campbell and Jake Sullivan pointed out in the September edition of Foreign Affairs:
The best defence of democracy is to stress the values that are essential to good governance, especially transparency and accountability, and to support civil society, independent media, and the free flow of information.
Thank you for your attention. I will be happy to answer your questions.
Well, it started in a similar fashion, inasmuch as we had received a request from the U.S. to extradite Mr. Su Bin, who was a Chinese person living in Vancouver and who was wanted for spying activities. A week later, unfortunately, Kevin and Julia Garratt were arrested. We went through a very similar process whereby we couldn't have access to them during the interrogation phase. We knew that they were detained in a location near Dandong. Finally, after a lot of pressure we were able to have consular access, but they didn't have access to their lawyers.
What changed was that, contrary to the Chinese government's expectations, Mr. Su Bin made a deal with American authorities, agreed to a plea bargain, and therefore waived his rights and was extradited rapidly to the U.S. In the meantime, the legal process for Mr. Garratt started. In the Chinese system, once you are formally charged, you are found guilty 99.9% of the time, so it was just a matter of time.
This started back in August 2014. It was under the previous government. Despite all attempts by Minister Baird and by the Prime Minister—Mr. Harper also raised the issue of the Garratts with the Chinese leadership—and despite pleas by the then Governor General Mr. Johnston, there was no success. Finally, when made his first visit to China at the end of August, we used this to negotiate a way out.
In fact, the Chinese government was angry every time a Canadian leader would raise high-profile consular cases in bilateral meetings, so they insisted on creating a new dialogue. We had a whole slew of dialogues. This one would be on national security, and they said it would be the one in which we could discuss high-profile consular cases. We said we would agree to the creation of this committee, provided it would be named the national security and rule of law dialogue.
They also wanted to discuss an extradition treaty. We kept telling them we were not going to negotiate an extradition treaty that would never be able to meet our standards, but I saw this as a good opportunity to discuss how law works in Canada. The first meeting of that committee took place in September 2016, two weeks after the visit of . That's where we were able to negotiate.
The Chinese completed the trial. They sentenced Mr. Garratt and then agreed to expel him.
Mr. Chairman, can I take three and a half days to answer that question, please?
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Howard Balloch: That's a very complicated question. Well, the question is not complicated—the answer is complicated.
China is a vast place. If you think of it historically, it has been more or less unified for a very long time, unlike Europe, but it is bigger than Europe, and it is culturally more diverse than it appears ethnically, so to understand.... There are a lot of Canadians who understand the China that they see. The China of the south, the China of the northeast and the China of the far west are all very different cultures, in spite of the fact that the Han ethnicity dominates the place so we tend to think of it as unified. It's less unified than we think.
In fact, the history of China has been a history of unification, and then, gradually, dynasties fall apart as regional interests overwhelm the central pull. That's one of the things that Xi Jinping fears. It's that the centre won't hold. It's why he pushed back hard against 30 years of change, which was leading to a weakening of the party's influence around the country. He pushed back to try to reverse that.
What is interesting about China is that it is changing. One of the great things that Mao Zedong did—there were many more things he did that were bad—was that he turned a more or less completely illiterate society into a literate society. We see the benefits of that today, when we see Chinese students in all our universities and all over the world. We see the young China becoming more and more worldly.
There's one thing that I would say Canadians should recognize. It's that China is in the midst of a very big transition, and it hasn't reached the end. We don't know what the end is going to be in terms of what happens when a highly literate and increasingly educated society becomes comfortable in their life and looks to expect other things, such as greater respect for the rule of law and seeing that their interests are responded to in some kind of political process. It will take time, but it will keep changing.
We saw the beginnings of that huge change between 1978 and 2014. That was almost continuous—not always at the same pace but almost continuous—and it's only in the last five years that we've seen this kind of counter-reform.
In terms of the changes that we were helping to make in those early days when I was ambassador, which is a long time ago now, at the time of the turn of the century, we helped to establish their National Judges College, where we taught the international principles of the rule of law, the right of legal counsel and all those things. Our Supreme Court justices, members of the Quebec court, which is particularly applicable because of the civil code, and other members of our judicial hierarchy came over to teach the Chinese, who wanted to learn.
One thing I would say is, don't assume China has stopped changing.
Thank you for your question, Mr. Bergeron.
First of all, with regard to your first question, I think we need to adopt a much stronger language with China. As soon as we discover a case of interference in Canadian affairs, we have to react. However, there is a difference between influence and interference. The role of an embassy is to try to be as influential as possible. When you send ambassadors abroad, you expect them to become friends with political leaders, economic leaders and academics. So they develop a network, and it is the value of that network that determines their own value.
That said, China expects self-censorship. You see it on Canadian university campuses, where some sinologists are not very critical of China, I think. Maybe it's because they don't want to cut off their access there.
The only language China understands is the language of firmness. For example, when I was ambassador, we negotiated an agreement under which Chinese investigators could come to Canada to meet with fugitive economic criminals. A protocol was established so that there would necessarily be a Mandarin-speaking member of the RCMP at all meetings. At the end of one visit, I was informed by CSIS officials that there had been meetings outside of this framework. I asked them to provide me with the necessary information, and I went to see the Deputy Minister of Public Safety.
I asked him how the visit went. He told me that it went very well and thanked us for our collaboration. I asked him how he would feel if, after receiving guests in his home, he discovered that the silverware had disappeared. He asked me what I meant. I told him that his staff thought they were very smart and I showed him what they had done. I told him that if it happened again, a Chinese investigator would never come back to Canada again. He said that no one was going to violate the memoranda of understanding. So I think that's what needs to be done in all areas.
I'd now like to turn to the four laws in Australia. The first is the creation of a register in which all former politicians and senior officials working for a foreign state must be registered. I think that's a good way to ensure more transparency.
The second bill, which was passed, was aimed at preventing interference within the Australian political system, but also within the Chinese-Australian community and on campuses, through rules and punishments.
The third bill created a superministry where intelligence and security matters were consolidated to better address national security issues.
Finally, the last bill was about foreign donations to political organizations. The law now prevents such donations.
Thank you very much, Chair, and thanks to both of you for being here today.
As recently as yesterday, I was asked what keeps me awake at night in my job as parliamentary secretary, and it is, without a doubt, consular issues. It is, without a doubt, Canadians around the world in various states of turmoil or detention, etc. The issues that keep me probably the most awake are the issues of arbitrary detentions like those of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, as well as the arbitrary resentencing of Mr. Schellenberg.
Maybe I'll start with you, Mr. Saint-Jacques, because I know that you have a personal interest in this and a care that you've expressed. You're both saying in various ways that engagement needs to be realistic, and not romantic, but that it is necessary. We cannot not engage with China.
I've been working on this for many months now, and I have not found a silver bullet in terms of how to engage, at what level to engage, how to demand and how to express how Canada should be operating in this world right now, given our extradition agreement with the United States, given our court proceedings that are continuing and given our absolute concern for the well-being of Canadians arbitrarily held in detention.
I want to push a bit on that for your advice with respect to what in the diplomatic tool kit we may not have been doing and what we can do more of. We have unprecedented numbers of allies we are working with, and other countries haven't done this, but it's not working yet. I've been told by some ambassadors from other countries that we have to settle in and recognize that it will be a while, but I'm anxious and I'm impatient.
I'm wondering if you could help us with that.
I'd like to thank all of our witnesses for their service to this country. Their ongoing expertise here today is most welcome.
I'll start with Mr. Saint-Jacques.
You had an editorial in December 2019 in the Vancouver Sun. You argued that Canada “should react quickly and firmly when we find instances of interference in Canadian affairs, including among Canadians of Chinese origin, espionage activities or attempts to limit debate on Canadian campuses.” It seems your testimony today reaffirms that.
This weekend I happened to see, on social media, that a school district—No. 43 Coquitlam—superintendent was being interviewed and admitted, through that interaction, that her school district actually felt it was completely appropriate to be taking funds for different activities from the Chinese government. Now, I've never heard of a foreign state actually funding these things. I don't know all the details. I'd like to see those details come out.
Sam Cooper this morning wrote in his Twitter feed that since the early 2000s, a former PLA officer and developer Li Zhe started making rounds with Vancouver area mayors, obviously taking them to China on different junkets. This became quite an issue in 2007.
I've never heard of this happening at the local government level. Have you heard of these things? What should we be looking to do in this matter? In your estimation, how far up the political scale does this go?
Thank you for inviting me to appear as a witness at this hearing on Canada-China relations. As an observer of Chinese foreign and security policy for more than 40 years, I'm pleased to provide my assessment of China's evolving global role.
China's involvement in the world is a very complicated picture. Several of your prior witnesses have related examples of China's positive impact, including the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and its contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. However, it is also important to examine examples of its negative impact and fully appreciate China's intentions to modify the international system in ways that are detrimental to democracies.
When Chinese officials claim they seek to uphold the international system, it's important to understand that they have a different definition of the international system from western liberal democracies. Beijing supports global institutions but rejects liberal norms and values. It opposes the network of U.S. alliances established after World War II that underpins the international system.
Xi Jinping has called for China not only to participate in but also to lead global governance reform. In various forums, including key UN agencies, China is seeking to reframe prevailing norms and to introduce its own concepts. Beijing has long expressed dissatisfaction with the democratic governance system, but it has only been in recent years that it has begun to push for its own alternative vision. China's more assertive stance is a result of both its assessment that the international balance of power is shifting in China's favour, with the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, and also the opportunities, frankly, presented by the Trump administration's withdrawal from several key multilateral organizations.
In the UN, China is introducing its own rules and norms. In the Human Rights Council, Beijing is promoting orthodox interpretations of national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs that weaken widely accepted international norms of human rights, transparency and accountability. In areas where international law is still evolving, China has been especially active. Alongside Russia, China has pushed its version of Internet governance that emphasizes state sovereignty and territoriality in the digital space. Other examples include outer space, the deep sea and the polar regions. In the Arctic, China has labelled itself a near-Arctic state, with the goal of inserting itself into international debates over Arctic governance.
Xi Jinping has taken measures to operationalize China's long-standing positions that U.S. alliances are Cold War relics that should be eliminated. In 2014, Xi put forward his vision for an Asia free of alliances and the military presence of the United States. In the South China Sea, through which an estimated $3.4 trillion in trade passes annually, China is aggressively pushing to oust foreign players. In its negotiations with the members of ASEAN on a code of conduct, Beijing proposed that the parties prohibit holding military exercises with countries outside Southeast Asia and bar co-operation with energy companies from outside the region.
Abroad, China is actively promoting its development model. At the 19th party congress in October 2017, Xi Jinping explicitly touted China's experience, stating that China's miracle of rapid economic growth and long-term social stability “offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence”. This unprecedented push is in part to secure the position of the Chinese Communist Party at home, but it's also intended to bolster the legitimacy of authoritarian political systems worldwide and weaken the appeal of democracy.
When it comes to international rules, China's compliance is selective, and its observance of law is weakest in the maritime realm, in China's near seas, where it prioritizes safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and development interests. Beijing rejected the July 2016 findings of an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal, which ruled that China's nine-dash line is invalid as a claim to resource rights.
China's intimidation of Taiwan, a democracy where over 23 million people reside, has reached new heights in recent years. China's military exercises have become increasingly provocative and dangerous, with large numbers of fighters, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft crossing the centre line of the Taiwan Strait. Beijing has poached seven of Taipei's diplomatic partners since 2016, leaving the island with only 15 countries that recognize it. Countries as well as companies that are seen as challenging Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan are issued stern warnings and threatened with punishment.
Canada is among the countries, of course, that have been targeted for harming Chinese interests and offending Chinese sensibilities. The arrest of Canadian citizens and the ban on imports of Canadian canola oil and other agricultural products are just the latest examples of Chinese economic coercion aimed at punishing countries that harm Chinese interests.
The list of target countries is long: Norway, for granting the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo; Japan, for arresting a Chinese ship captain after he rammed a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in disputed waters; the Philippines, for confronting Chinese fishermen operating in Scarborough Shoal; and on and on, as well as South Korea for THAAD, etc.
China does not respect rule of law. lt does not share liberal democratic values, and it does not protect human rights. It is seeking to alter the international system in ways that would be favourable to China and detrimental to western interests. China's tool of domestic governance, its detention of over one million Uighurs, its censorship of expression, and its social credit system should not be a model for the rest of the world.
Although l'm not a Canadian citizen, l'd like to offer a few suggestions for Canada to consider in its policy going forward.
First, establish priorities in your relations with China. Identify what Canada must insist on and what it will not tolerate. Be firm and consistent. A precondition for the resumption of normal bilateral ties should be the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Beijing ultimately respects countries that stand up for their interests. Canada's priorities and principles in its relations with China could be set out in a strategy paper similar to that issued by Sweden or embedded in a broader foreign policy white paper as Australia has done.
Second, where possible, pursue a collective response. Seek to work with like-minded countries to protect shared interests. Japan, along with the U.S. and the European Union, filed a WTO case against Chinese actions to drastically reduce rare earth exports in 2010, and the challengers won in 2014. I think Canada, the U.S. and other like-minded countries should establish a multilateral reserve fund to compensate any of the fund's members for costs imposed by Chinese economic coercion. The fund should be capitalized by its members as well as by private sector firms that might be affected by coercion.
Third and finally, identify sources of leverage and use them. Although Canada is a middle power, not a superpower, it still has ways in which it can get China's attention. Pulling out of China's AIIB, which I know some politicians have advocated for, would not significantly affect the bank's lending capacity, of course, but it would deal a blow to China's reputation. Canada should also consider invoking the Magnitsky Law against China, which allows the government to block visas for officials and freeze or seize their assets in Canada.
Calling out China for its human rights abuses in Xinjiang would be consistent with Canada's long-standing support for human rights and freedom, and doing so might encourage countries to take similar measures.
Thank you again for inviting me to testify before the special committee.
It is indeed a distinct honour and privilege for me to be invited to appear before this distinguished parliamentary special committee.
I apologize for not having submitted this opening statement in time for it to be translated into French, but I only received the invitation to testify a few days ago. I was able to prepare the statement only over the weekend, but I have submitted it and hopefully your interpreters have it in front of them and it will help them.
I have been a student and scholar of China for 45 years. I read and speak Chinese fairly fluently. I've visited China, Hong Kong and Taiwan hundreds of times over 41 consecutive years, and I have lived in China for a total of five years. Until five years ago, I had extremely good access to institutions and individuals throughout the party, government, military, academia and society in China.
While a continually fascinating and complex land, the country's current trajectory is quite troubling to me in many dimensions. I commend this special committee on your inquiry, as it's a critical element in Canada's re-evaluation of its relations with the People's Republic of China, particularly in the wake of, but not exclusively related to, the deterioration of bilateral relations in the wake of the cases of Meng Wanzhou, Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Robert Schellenberg.
The reason I say “not exclusively related to” is that it seems apparent—to me, at least, south of our common border—that over the last two to three years the Canadian government and civil society have been engaged in a collective national gestalt over your relations with China.
The aforementioned cases may have crystallized and brought to the surface a simmering subterranean debate, but there are other unsettling dimensions of relations with China that you have encountered in recent years related to espionage, Chinese investment into key sectors of the Canadian economy, technology theft, intellectual property rights theft—things that other countries are also experiencing—Chinese United Front activities among the Chinese-Canadian diaspora, influence operations towards Chinese elites, the human rights situation in China and other difficulties. I would submit that these issues collectively have led to your national discussion and this special committee's inquiry.
This is, I would submit, a very healthy and very normal gestalt, if you will, for any democracy. From what I have been able to observe from south of our border, this national discussion has proceeded in a very rational, responsible yet probing manner. It's not over yet, and this committee's inquiry will play an important role in its outcome.
Over the past few days, I have read the transcripts of all the previous testimony before the committee, and this morning I was able to see some but not all of the ambassadors' testimony on my way here. Let me particularly associate myself with the opening statements of Phil Calvert, Paul Evans and Charles Burton. Although I do not agree with all their responses in the Q and A period, I did find their opening statements to be very much in line with what I believe.
I also periodically follow the Canadian press and have had recent discussions over the last year with Canadian academic colleagues, as well as diplomats and officials in other departments in Ottawa.
From all of this, I discern that there is a fairly fundamental rethink going on in Canada concerning the fundamental assumptions and principles of its relationship with China. Again, this is all very normal, very therapeutic and probably overdue, and it will produce hopefully a recalibrated approach towards China that best serves Canadian national interests.
Canada is hardly alone in having such a national rethink about China. South of the border, we Americans have been experiencing a very similar national debate concerning our relations with China in recent years. My colleagues and I would be happy to discuss this with you today if you're interested, but I would just say a couple of things about it.
First, it's been brewing for a number of years. It predated but has coalesced under the Trump administration. It has resulted in a substantial critique and re-evaluation of the so-called engagement paradigm that has undergirded U.S. relations with China for four decades. It has resulted in a very bipartisan, fundamental hardening and toughening of U.S. policies towards China across the board. While there is no total agreement on this in the United States, I would say that there is a substantial majority agreement about it. Again, we would be happy to elaborate on that if you're interested.
Moreover, the U.S. and Canada are not alone in undertaking such a fundamental re-evaluation of relations with China. So is the European Union. Europe-China relations are something I've followed for decades rather closely, and I have just returned from Berlin, where we convened a transatlantic symposium on U.S. and European relations with China. My colleague Bonnie Glaser here also recently co-organized a similar German-American dialogue on China, so we're familiar with the European situation. Yun Sun is, of course, today in Norway.
In Europe, there has also been a continent-wide rethinking about and hardening of policies towards China. While continuing to call for collaboration and co-operation in several fields, for the first time in any official statements of the European Commission, its most recent so-called communication, which is like a white paper, described China as a “strategic competitor” and a “systemic rival”.
A similar rethinking is also ongoing in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and in several Southeast Asian countries. Other witnesses, including those this morning, have raised the Australian legislation that came out of its national debate. I would agree with them that this is a good model for Canada and other democracies to follow.
Canada is hardly alone in rethinking its relations with China, and there are good empirical reasons why these countries are all re-evaluating their relations with China, namely that the entire world is facing a much more domestically repressive and much more externally confrontational Chinese regime under Xi Jinping.
China has changed; thus the previous premises of our engagement policies need to be rethought and replaced with much more hard-headed responses to China's more offensive behaviour. We cannot cling to outdated Kantian liberal preferences and policies of co-operation with a regime that is among the world's most repressive on earth; is largely mercantilist in its trade and investment policies; is building a world-class offensive military; is increasingly expansionist in its foreign policies, including its belt and road; and increasingly bullies other countries.
Just very briefly, related to this, I was quite interested in this morning's testimony. One of your committee members raised a really interesting question. What do Canadians need to know about China that they don't? We can talk about that today, but I would submit that Canadian academics, at least, need to stop focusing on China as a cultural and civilizational entity and start studying it in depth as a Chinese communist Leninist state, an essentially mixed economy but with Soviet characteristics.
Academics need to start thinking more like intelligence analysts, in my view. The U.K. experience is helpful here. I used to live and teach in the United Kingdom. They had a very similar situation about 20 years ago. They undertook a parliamentary inquiry into the state of Chinese studies in the U.K., which produced a series of government-funded posts going to certain priority areas. We can pursue that, and I would just recommend that for consideration in Canada as well.
Let me just conclude my brief time with this last point. Again, Canada is not alone in being on the receiving end of Chinese punitive actions for behaviour that Beijing considers unfriendly or that violates its so-called core interests. By my count, including Canada, there are 17 countries that have been punished with punitive retaliatory actions by China. Bonnie has just named several of those, so I will leave it at that. We can go into the 17 cases if you're interested, but you're not alone. There is a pattern here. It doesn't take a social scientist to see the pattern.
The precipitating events vary by country, but China's behaviour and China's retaliatory actions also vary by case. I'd note, simply to make you aware, that Canada is hardly in a unique position at present, however regrettable. We Americans stand 100% with Canada under these trying circumstances.
Sweden is also currently experiencing similar circumstances over the Gui Minhai case and other bilateral difficulties, but what Canada and Sweden are experiencing now has become a demonstrable international pattern in Beijing's punitive and aggressive actions towards others.
The entire world is now dealing with a Chinese Communist Party and state that feels emboldened, entitled and empowered. The consequent questions for all of us—certainly for democracies but I would submit for all countries in the world—are the following: What type of push-back is warranted? Second, can we live with a friction-ridden relationship with China? Third, can we escape the trap of the engagement paradigm that leaves us to seek or return to a so-called normal relationship of co-operation with China? Fourth, will the world bend to China's pressure tactics and extraordinary commercial leverage? Lastly, if the world does bend to such tactics, what does it mean for international order?
Canada and Sweden are currently on the front lines of these questions, but the entire world, regardless of political systems, has a major interest in developing convincing answers and effective responses to these difficult questions. I think Bonnie just gave you a series of good recommendations that I would share as well.
Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to your questions.
Good morning. It is a great honour for me to be invited to provide perspectives and analysis to the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.
I was asked to provide views on China's global role and approach to the international system, as well as to make recommendations on Canada-China relations.
Historically and traditionally, the international system that China has known and been accustomed to is one of hegemonic stability, centred on and dominated by the Middle Kingdom, a superior and self-perceived benevolent country or civilization. The hegemon-China's superiority in military and economic power formed the foundation for peace and stability through deterrence, coercion and war, and the benevolence, as demonstrated by the hegemon's provision of public goods to help advance the culture through infrastructure, in China's view, anchored the desirability of such a system to other states.
In China's view, Chinese superiority is the foundation for the stability and harmony of the system. In the Chinese conception of the world order, harmony does not [Technical difficulty—Editor] from equality among all countries. Instead, harmony originates from a well-defined and well-enforced hierarchy, in which roles and responsibilities were assigned according to each country's [Technical difficulty—Editor] power. The vision stipulates that states recognize and pledge their deference to the strong and benevolent hegemon, and that's when peace and stability will ensue.
This system existed for 2,000 years in China, until it encountered its most critical existential threat, when the western system of nation states—
This system encountered its most critical existential threat when the western system of nation states prevailed in Asia. While the China-centric system preached the homogeneity of the Chinese civilization among all states on its periphery, the western notion of nation states emphasizes their heterogeneity, and hence, differing and competitive national interests.
What we have witnessed with China’s foreign policy in recent years is an assiduous attempt to break away from western discourse and re-establish the traditional Chinese model of hegemonic stability. In China’s view, China’s primacy in the region stands a reasonable chance to prevail. China, through its power, will create an alternative order based on a different set of values.
This is essentially the goal that the current Chinese leaders are pursuing. China’s rising vitality and intensification of its foreign policy behaviours is the manifestation of its bid for regional hegemony and global power. That regional hegemony may not deny U.S. access to the East Asian and West Pacific regions, but it does dictate that the U.S. must follow the rules developed and enforced by the regional power. This is the fundamental cause of the escalating strategic rivalry and great power competition we are witnessing between the U.S. and China.
The U.S. has traditionally played the role of an offshore balancer to ensure the plurality of the region by channelling power into the region. However, as China strategically applies its “carrot and stick” foreign policy to displace the United States, first in the Asian region and then more broadly across the globe, this great power competition most likely will continue to intensify.
Here I wish to say a few words in particular about China’s mentality about the west, which is highly relevant for the discussion we are having here today. When China’s regional superiority crumbled in the 19th century, what ensued was a sense of pathos, of self-pity and a sense of victimhood targeted toward the west. With China’s rise and resumption of great power status, it rapidly evolved into China’s own destiny manifesto, a firm belief in China’s preordained and predestined superiority to lead the world and a mentality as well as an urge for revenge when the west seems to reject or disrespect China’s rightful status. In other words, China today still maintains a high level of victim mentality abnormal for a great power, which translates into a heightened sense of vulnerability, hostility and retaliatory actions when it is triggered. Due to this mentality and China’s newly acquired capacity and instruments to inflict damage on other countries, the policy toward China by any country has become increasingly challenging.
As shown by the recent Meng Wanzhou case and China’s retaliation, Canada is caught between two great powers in their tug of war. In China, there is no doubt that the reparation of the ties or the so-called renormalization of bilateral relations will have to be predicated upon Meng’s release, or at the minimum, upon her not being extradited to the United States, combined with significant policy moves from the Canadian government to show goodwill toward China. Anything less than significant will be appreciated by China but unlikely to generate the policy change people would like to see. The recent Chinese reaction to Canada’s position on the coronavirus outbreak in China is one such good example.
The question of how to effectively deal with China while protecting Canada’s national interests is apparently a hard one. While the desire is to maintain neutrality and avoid the difficult binary situation of picking a side, Canada may not eventually have the option or the luxury to do so. Canada and the United States are close allies and we share important common interests, from democratic values to international norms and rules, from national security to bilateral trade and economic prosperity. Recent developments have deepened the disagreements between Canada and China, both on domestic political issues and its foreign policy behaviours. These are basic facts.
To deal with China effectively at this difficult time requires Canada to develop more leverages and influence vis-à-vis China and open up more space, new space, between the U.S. and China in the era of great power competition. Alliance management should not just be the leader of the alliance managing the partners. In these fluid times, it is also critical for the partners to manage the alliance relationship in order to mitigate or minimize the potential chance of victimization or collateral damage on specific issues.
Canada could develop a more astute and sophisticated understanding of China and calibrate the outcomes of each interaction between China and Canada before they happen, but beyond that, how to shape the policies and behaviours of great powers, as well as to prepare for and manage the consequences of decisions, will be of utmost importance. In addition, there are increasing demands among middle powers in Europe and in Asia to develop co-operation among themselves in order to restrain and balance the hostile behaviours of great powers. This is a potential direction that Canada could consider more as a policy orientation as well.
Thank you again, Chair. I look forward to the discussion.
Sure. First of all, this is reflected at both societal and governmental levels. The hardening I was referring to referred to the governmental level, but in fact if you look at public opinion polls and surveys of the American public over the last two to three years, you also see an increased percentage—now up into the mid-60s, I believe—of Americans who see China in a so-called unfavourable light.
The suspicions about China are reflected at both governmental and societal levels, I would say, although when I travel across the United States, I, at least, notice a substantial variation in those levels of suspicion. The further west you go, interestingly, the less suspicious Americans are. Those on the west coast—Washington State, Oregon, California—can't get enough of engagement with China, particularly economic and cultural. I don't want to spend much time on this. If you go into the Rocky Mountains, the central south or the upper Midwest and then certainly into parts of the east, you find varying perceptions of China, but overall now, a majority of about two-thirds of Americans see China unfavourably.
The hardening I was referring to, though, is manifest across a number of policy areas. It started under the Obama administration but has really increased during the Trump administration. Export controls have been substantially ramped up. American companies are now forbidden to sell certain items such as chips and other items that go into various electronics, which you know about very well.
We don't really have that much of a controversy in our country about Huawei, strangely enough. We just ban them. We don't allow them to bid on our networks. That's my understanding. Unlike your country and Europe, which are undergoing a big debate on that, we're not really having a debate about it.
There are new executive branch policies about Chinese investment into critical infrastructure. The review procedures of CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, have also been strengthened. There are an increasing number of Chinese cases in front of CFIUS, and increasing FBI surveillance, if that's the right word, or FBI monitoring, of Chinese espionage on American campuses, in American laboratories and throughout the private sector. China is by far, if you read the statements of FBI director Wray, the most egregious infringer of American technology theft.
In the defence realm, Bonnie can speak to this more. That's more long-standing and predates the Trump administration. You saw what happened last week. It was referenced in this morning's session about the new caps put on Chinese journalists here in the U.S. for four state agencies. There are others, such as screening of visas, for example, of Chinese scholars coming to the United States. The Trump administration has really ramped these up. I wouldn't necessarily call these “retaliatory”, but rather sober-minded policies to more carefully monitor the extent of the interactions between Chinese and Americans inside the United States. That's to say nothing about the long-standing concerns about American business, American academia and American government, including public diplomacy.
That's a very important question.
To quickly finish my thought, Beijing fears the formation of an anti-China coalition of other countries working together to push back against China. I really do feel that this is an area that should be exploited.
I'll cite the example of one country that I think has done particularly well, and that is Japan. Japan has basically been in the doghouse since 2012, when the government purchased some of the disputed Senkaku islands from some private Japanese citizens. The Chinese started introducing law enforcement ships in the territorial waters around these disputed islands. There were other pressures put on Japan, but the Chinese goal was to get the government in Tokyo, led by Prime Minister Abe, to acknowledge that a territorial dispute exists, because Japan has long said there is no dispute.
Fast-forward to today, and here we are eight years later. Yes, it has taken a long time, although the relationship gradually began to improve, and I would say the turn was in December 2014. Xi Jinping was supposed to go for a summit next month, which has been postponed only because of the COVID-19 virus, but these relations have improved, and Prime Minister Abe has not made core concessions on this territorial issue that China really cares about.
Does Japan have leverage? Certainly. Japan probably has more investment in China and more trade with China than Canada has, but ultimately I think Beijing saw that this prolonged downturn in relations did not serve its interests, and it looked for common ground with Japan and Prime Minister Abe.
My question is for Ms. Sun.
Hello. I hope you're doing well today.
We've just celebrated International Women's Day, so my thoughts are turned to the issue of women's rights. On the eve of International Women's Day in 2015, Chinese authorities jailed five feminist activists for planning to hand out stickers on subways and buses against sexual harassment. News of the arrest of the “feminist five”, as they became known, spread swiftly, sparking global protests and diplomatic outrage. Luckily, the government released the women after 37 days.
Then, on International Women's Day two years ago, Weibo and WeChat both banned the most influential feminist social media account, called Feminist Voices, because it “posted sensitive and illegal information”. Thousands of students signed #MeToo petitions demanding action against sexual harassment, but many of these petitions were deleted by censors soon after being posted on social media.
The shrinking public space for discussing women's rights in China is very concerning for me. I find it particularly ironic given the importance of gender equality during the communist revolution in the early Mao era, following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, since the early communists enshrined the equality of women and men in the constitution of the People's Republic, and the government introduced ambitious initiatives to put women to work in building the new communist nation by the 1970s. They in fact boasted that the biggest female workforce in the entire world was in China.
Could you please give us an update on women's rights in China and what Canada and other countries can do to support the feminist movement in China?
That is a shameful abuse of procedure, and you know it. I didn't interrupt you when you were directly responding to my comments, so we expect better from you.
I want to ask Mr. Shambaugh two questions. First of all, we have the buzzword “engagement”, which has been around this committee a lot. You talked about the trap of the so-called engagement paradigm. It's interesting, because all of us would agree that there needs to be engagement with this topic, in terms of having those dialogues and opportunities for conversation. At the same time, we should reject the idea that engagement entails thinking that having a good, collegial, friendly relationship is an end in and of itself. Engaging in a way that shows firmness and consistency and seeks to advance our values and interests is the objective.
Can you talk a bit about what may be good engagement and bad engagement, given the importance of just that word?
Regarding the second question, you wrote an essay for The Wall Street Journal in 2015, in which you imagined the unfolding of.... I don't mean “imagined” in a pejorative way. You said, “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun.... Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent.”
I'm wondering if you still think, five years later, that we're in the endgame of communist rule in China. All of us here, presumably, would like to see freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law spread around the world, spread to China. Do you think political change in China is possible in the near or medium term? What policy approaches can we use here in Canada to promote the development of a free, multi-party democratic society, and in a way that minimizes any kind of conflagration in the process of transition?
You have two minutes left. Take the whole time however you like.
Two minutes, or two hours...?
On your first question, about engagement, I'd recommend the committee read, if it hasn't already, Paul Evans's excellent book entitled Engaging China. It is a history of Canadian relations with China since the Trudeau period and throughout this whole engagement paradigm. Second, read Ambassador David Mulroney, whom I hope you will hear from at the committee. His book Middle Power, Middle Kingdom is an excellent study. He also goes through these issues.
Engagement, in my view, is not an end in itself. It is a means to advancing a national and common international interest. I was also interested in this annex that Global Affairs Canada provided to the committee. There's a very nice organization chart of the probably two dozen or more bilateral dialogues that Canada has with China. When I looked at that chart, it made me think, “Well, they just see engagement as an end in itself.” Simply having those boxes on that chart is what those diplomats in Global Affairs Canada set out to do, and to have the dialogue is sufficient.
I would submit that it is not sufficient. You have to achieve things with dialogues. The United States, by the way, had 94, I think. Bonnie has written about this. We had 94 ongoing dialogues with China when the Trump administration took over. They're now down to fewer than 10. The Trump administration has just cancelled a number of them. Are we any worse off for it? I don't think so. It's a terrible waste of money, resources, time, airplane fuel, etc., unless you're getting real results.
Engagement, if it's institutional engagement, bilaterally, is a means toward an end in whichever issue or area you're talking about. That's just my brief answer to that.