D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi

From me to you

                                               From Me to You

For those of you who like a less disciplined approach to subject matter then this may be your cup of “oolong cha”. The Liberals barely mentioned China in their last election campaign. Since then they have silently and stealthily pursued an improbably odd strategy of Free-Trade talks with an authoritarian regime with a non-market economy. Doesn’t this strike you as disingenuous? Indeed, there has been NO China policy per se. It is no wonder that they have been led astray.

In the New Year, one can reasonably expect the following developments which will center on China.

1. Meng Wanzhou will contest extradition to the US.

2. Bains will either have to cancel of postpone the 5G bandwidth auctions in March since Huawei might be expected to bid.

3. Freeland will continue to “campaign” for the release of two Canadian prisoners. It is beginning to resemble the beginning of an election campaign.

4. Goodale will continue to “review” the National Security threat that Huawei may pose.

5. China may cut canola imports from Canada and switch to US imports as a result of upcoming US-China trade negotiations

6. Canadians may come to the realization that China will not buy its heavy oil. As well, Canada has underestimated China’s push to develop a green industry and reduce pollution.

All of this means that the China issue which was not expected to be on the ballot will be top of the ballot in the Fall. If you vote for the Liberal candidate then you are in favor of China’s one party system with its Core Leader. In the meantime, all the faults and foibles of the current government will be revealed. One cannot deal surreptitiously and clandestinely with an authoritarian government and expect to hide your duplicity forever.

Whether or not one looks at a benign or bellicose China one sees a country that has a consistent policy of One Belt One Road and strategies to implement it. It may be the dominant superpower in the next 30 years; but, it is said by some experts that Canada may need 30 years to develop a China policy. If Canada is to interact in a meaningful way with China then we need more than a Department of Foreign Affairs. We need an independent Ministry of Chinese Affairs. This was recommended by the author about two years ago. If we had had such a ministry we might have avoided many of today’s travails (from the Latin trepalium meaning instrument of torture).

In the days of Pierre Trudeau, Canada went to China. Now, under Justin Trudeau, China comes to Canada. Foreign Affairs are now becoming domestic affairs. For example, the Aecon affair was a domestic affair. Domestically, Canadians didn’t want a Chinese SOE takeover of Canada’s third largest infrastructure company. We need a cogent and coherent China policy and set of strategies focused through an independent ministry that understands China and the Chinese.

Few Canadians will argue that “rule of law” is not a central tenet of our judicial system. However, if one says that it “must” be followed “absolutely” then one is imposing a kind of absolute authority which is not characteristic of our democracy. There were times in Canada’s history during the FLQ crisis that martial law was imposed. One may argue that the Emergency Measures Act should be imposed today to fight the fentanyl crisis brought to us by the Chinese state. Furthermore, the death penalty should be introduced for anyone importing fentanyl into Canada or selling it.

Under normal circumstances, though, the law should be flexible. In a strong wind it should bend like a willow. The law should be flexible and open to interpretation. Deals are made every day both inside and outside the courtroom. The colloquial phrase is “to cut a deal”. So, why is Canada so inflexible in the situation involving Meng Wanzhou?

Mdme Meng didn’t have either Canada or the US as a final destination. She was travelling to Mexico from Japan. Have you asked yourself why the US didn’t call for her extradition when she arrived in Mexico? Basically, the answer is two-fold. Mexico has an extradition treaty with China, but Canada does not. The second reason is that she is deputy chairwoman and CFO of Huawei. The US believes that Huawei is a threat to its National Security with regard to 5G telecommunications or at least a competitive threat. Therefore, her arrest sent a strong signal to Canada to disallow Huawei’s encroachment in the 5G area. The writing has been on the wall for the last year.

The reality is that Mdme Meng is now on our shores due to a politicized order by US authorities to extradite her. Isn’t it the height of hypocrisy that Canadian negotiators listened to overtures from the Chinese about an Extradition Treaty for over two years without any real intention of accepting it? This is double-dealing. However, it is double-double dealing to pursue an FTA with the Chinese when China had no need for an FTA and Canadians did not want it nor an extradition treaty.

Canadians were never given an opportunity through vote or referendum to express their view of an FTA with China. All other FTA’s with the United States (which is a democracy and free-market economy) have passed the litmus test of an election going back to the time it was called reciprocity. Yet, as late as the G20 meeting in Singapore, Trudeau has stated that his long term goal was an FTA with China which is not a democracy nor does it have a free-market economy. He seems to represent himself and a diaspora rather than the majority of Canadians, but we won’t know for sure because an election has not settled the issue.

The best course to deal with the situation of Mdme Meng is to undertake a trade of her for the 5 + 2 Canadians in Chinese custody. That is the common ground between the Chinese absolute unconditional demand of her release and the Canadian absolute reliance on the sanctity of rule of law. If a trade can be arranged then Canada does not have to worry about the fall-out of unintended consequences from the Chinese state. Furthermore, it can then address the Huawei issue in a reasonable way.

However, if the Liberal government thinks it can prioritize the issue of the two Canadians recently arrested and ignore the arrest of five Canadian-Chinese arrested some time ago it is manifestly mistaken. The issues are interlinked and interwoven. The Ad Lib government will be unable to meaningfully facilitate and negotiate any trade with China in the future as long as five or seven prisoners are held.

Mdme Meng has accepted the terms of bail. There is every indication she will follow the terms to the letter. However, she may not have a choice. The Party has not accepted her confinement or the prospect of her being extradited to the US. It would represent a terrible loss of face.

What course might the Party take? It might rely on an erratic Trump to relent if technology concessions were made. It could hope for successful trade negotiations which are extremely complex and the outcome uncertain. Finally, it might plan to liberate the detainee through a rescue mission.

However, a simple prisoner swap—now—will yield the best results before the Spring Festival. An exchange involves eight prisoners which is a lucky number for the Chinese. An absolute interpretation of “rule of law” through an extradition tainted by political motives or an absolute interpretation of “rule by law” involving arbitrary detention which may end in extraterritorial extraction should be thrown in the recycle bin.

Take the lead and make a deal!

D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi