Hands up if you know which country is Canada’s second largest trading partner, after the land of The Donald. If you said China, move to the head of the class, and we’ll share a bowl on wontons. With a population of one and a half billion people, China has become a powerhouse like no other in this world.
Justin Trudeau is heading back there this week on what may almost be considered an annual mission. It was papa Pierre who led Canada in 1970 when we became the first NATO country to establish relations with the Chinese, two years before Richard Nixon’s historic visit.
China remains a very scary place, and organizations concerned about human rights are urging the Prime Minister to remind his hosts that they need to do better. Summary execution is still the punishment for a lot of crimes in China, but don’t hold your breath waiting for Justin to break new ground on human rights.
Remember Stefan Dion who was in Justin’s first cabinet? His political career was effectively ended 18 months ago, when he dared to raise human rights with a Chinese leader who was visiting Ottawa. Selfie Boy supported his minister all the way to the door.
When he was in opposition, Stephen Harper used to huff and puff regularly about China’s human rights record. Things didn’t change all that much under his watch, especially after the economic collapse of 2008.
Amnesty International says human rights in China are worse than they were when Trudeau visited Beijing just over a year ago. They’re urging the Trudeau Liberals to demand that human rights assessments be included in any new trade deals that we negotiate with the Chinese. That’s about as likely to happen as Donald Trump is likely to stop sending out tweets in the middle of the night.
We should also remember that if any country might be capable of preventing North Korea from firing nuclear missiles at this part of the world, it’s likely to be China.
What a scary place our world has become in 2017 .
I’m Roger Currie