Opinions have been flying fast and thick lately over HMPM Stephen Harper’s decision to take a harder line with the communist Chinese regime’s human rights record than previous Liberal governments have. For those of you that have been in a cave and haven’t heard yet, the PM has declared that he will pursue a policy of “constructive engagement” with China, rather than the fawning appeasement displayed by previous governments. Lefties in the MSM, naturally, are flummoxed. Some of the more honest, however, are willing to suck it up and say otherwise.
Harper said that, while trade with China may be important, Canadians have values and a fundamental, deep-rooted sense of right and wrong and ” they don’t want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.” Previous HypoGrit governments have insisted that trade with China is somehow vital to our economy but as one of my favourite loudmouths, Ezra Levant, put it in his Calgary Sun column today:
If the idea was that being China’s moral apologist would help Canadian businessmen sell to China, that idea failed.
China-Canada trade has increased during the past decade, but it has been China selling their goods to us, not the other way around. Canada buys about triple from China what they buy from us. And what China covets most is our energy and other natural resources — global commodities Canada would sell on the world market.
Silence about Chinese fascism has not made Canada rich from China — though both Paul Martin’s sons’ business, Canada Steamship Lines, and Jean Chretien’s son-in-law’s business, Power Corp., have thrived there.
How very convenient. China’s economy grows, the balance of trade shifts away from our favour, but at least 2 former PMs’ kin get filthy rich in the deal. Nice. So, will a sour relationship with China hurt our economy? Not a chance.
We run a massive trade deficit with China. The fact of the matter is that neglecting human rights hasn’t opened a lot of doors either. So obviously, we don’t think you get anywhere by shortchanging your values.
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper
In the short run, it could be a bother because we’ve gotten used to cheap Chinese goods. In the long run, however, it is China that would be on the short end of the stick in any trade fracas. The name of the game is “raw materials and natural resources: we have ’em and they need ’em; it’s just a question of price.” While cheap manufacturing jobs can easily pack up and move to a democratic India and not end up costing much more than they do now, natural resources have a bothersome habit of staying put. And we aren’t going to run out of people to sell our oil to anytime soon.
China has a long history of ignoring our interests, our principles and even our sovereignty. Harper has decided that he isn’t going to sit still for that kind of crap. The Prime Minister’s decision to stand up to this Asian bully has returned us to our rightful place on the world stage as a nation that holds true to its beliefs and is cause for us to take pride, not to be second guessing.
China’s president, Hu Jintao, had requested to meet with Harper at the conference. But Hu refused to allow Harper to raise specific issues, demanding the meeting be “strategic” only — abstract generalities and pleasantries, precisely the kind of thing at which Chretien and Martin excelled.
Avoiding specific issues meant China would never have to answer for specific actions, ranging from detaining a Canadian citizen in a Chinese jail, to violating Canadian trademarks and other intellectual property, as China so brazenly does, such as with their “Redberry” rip-off of Canada’s BlackBerry.
When Harper’s diplomats pressed for a meeting about substantive matters, the Chinese reneged.
Had it been Chretien or Martin who were snubbed, they’d have panicked and gone into appeasement mode.
They probably would have groveled, promised not to raise prickly issues, and perhaps even raised Canada’s absurd annual gift of $65 million a year to China in foreign aid, the largest amount we give to any country.
Harper dug in. Then an amazing thing happened. After Harper’s statement on human rights, his declaration of his plans to speak openly about China, Beijing called Ottawa, and asked for the meeting again. They blinked. There are a few lessons here.
Indeed there are.