Monkey in the Middle
There were five Canadians in Chinese prisons over the last couple of years who are still there. They are Chang, Sun, Celil, Wang and Xiao. The Garratts, too, were arrested under the broad umbrella of national security. These two political pawns were used to prevent the extradition of Su Bin to the United States on charges of espionage. By the way, explain to us the real story behind the negotiations involving the release of the Garratts. It didn't have anything to do with the trade-off between extradition and Free-Trade talks along with the canola deal, did it? This is important now because extradition is the issue at the forefront, two more Canadians have been arrested in China and our largest export to China is canola. These sales may be hurt if the Chinese cut-off purchases.
The sole goal of the Communist Party has been to secure an extradition treaty with Canada so that high profile individuals are not extradited to the United States. Basically, China wants unfettered access to do anything it wants in Canada to weaken American interests without reprisals from the Americans. The Liberal government perfectly understands this situation--if they do not they are even more incompetent than it appears.
They must also realize that an extradition treaty would undermine the very fabric of our legal system or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, they have agreed to listen and one might say encourage talks regarding extradition for one reason only. They want a Free-Trade agreement with China.
A Free-Trade agreement basically involves trade with SOE's (state-owned enterprises) or companies that act as SOE's). The Liberal governmment wants to do business with any company that reports directly to the Party. It is hard to find any company that does not report directly to the Party if told or asked. The Liberal government is happy with this situation because it involves economy of scale. Bigger deals can be negotiated. Nevertheless, they are unbalanced deals because Canada has nothing comparable in scale. As a result, our trade is unbalanced and we run a large trade deficit with China.
The situation of Meng Wanzhou is unique. She has spent very little time in Canada. She has broken no laws in Canada. She was arrested in transit at a Vancouver airport on her way from Japan to Mexico. Neither has she harmed any American interests in Canada by breaking Canadian law.
One may argue that Trump called for her detainment for political reasons. One may cite the seeming coincidence of her arrest at the same time that Xi and Trump were talking about trade at the G20 meeting. In a similar coincidence, Trump launched missiles at Syrian airbases while he was having dessert with the Core Leader. What is not a coincidence is that Trump actually said that he would consider her release if concessions were made on trade. “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”
It is clear from this quote that Trump is conflating trade with national security. One sees a similar circumstance when he imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian exports to the United States. The Canadian negotiators call it illegal because Canada does not pose a national security threat to the United States. Let's see. That situation has lasted six months and may carry on for years if it is contested in court. The Meng case might carry on for years if contested in court. Both of these scenarios involve political interference by Trump to satifsy his base or should one say his basest instincts.
The author is certainly no friend of Huawei. He has written extensively and intensively of the threat that Huawei poses to our basic infrastructure and our university culture. However, he separates the treatment of Meng Wanzhou who is the heir apparent of the Huawei company from the company's actions which were legal in Canada or for that matter what they might have been in Iran during the 2013 period. Indeed, with regard to the earlier sanctions it does not appear that there were any arrests of individuals, but rather penalties only were applied to companies.
Why is Trump so concerned about past sanctions imposed on Iran to ensure compliance of a nuclear treaty between Iran and the United States? China was a signatory to that treaty. He cares so much about the treaty that he actually ripped it up. He pandered to the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia at the time. Now, Trump is using the lame argument of Meng Wanzhou's alleged breaking of sanctions to further his political and trade ambitions with China. It is simply not credible to believe that Trump did not know anything about the arrest in advance.
With five Canadians in Chinese prisons it would have been the easiest decision for Trudeau to have made concerning Free-Trade talks with China. No talk of Free-Trade with China as long as there are Canadian prisoners in that country. However, trade trumped prisoners. Would either Canada or the United States have undertaken USMCA talks with each other if there were political prisoners involved on either side?
As a result, the Liberal government (with its emphasis on Free-Trade with the Chinese instead of freeing Canadian prisoners) significantly weakened its human rights position. It blunted its general message of human rights in China and abroad. If the government cares only to offer consular services for five lives in China and make Free-Trade a priority then why should its letter concerning 1,000,000 in detention camps in China be listened to?
The prisoner situation though has become compounded and convoluted. There are no longer just five prisoners, but two more are being held unjustly. For a few days the governent had no idea where the prisoners were. Now, they know where they are and consular assistance has been provided, but that it little consolation to the prisoners.
If the author is incorrect about the following observation then bring it to his attention. He has heard absolutely no mention of the original five prisoners from the subsidized CBC network nor from the Trudeau government in this crisis. The priority is on the latest two prisoners and not the forgotten five. This is incredible because the Chinese have not formally linked the arrest of Meng with the two new Canadian prisoners. Granted, it is probable, but it could very well be that those two are part of the seven of prisoners. That is more highly probable. The Chinese may have considered that five Canadian-Chinese prisoners were not quite so effective as bargaining chips unless they added two Canadian prisoners.
Trudeau exacerbated this crisis. Michael Kovrig of the International Crisis Group was sent to talk with the Chinese in mainland China. Mr. Kovrig is an ex-diplomat. He does not have diplomatic immunity. He is subject therefore to arrest because he does not have protection. Everyone seemed to understand its relevance except Trudeau. It is like sending a fireman to a fire without protective gear!
I have not heard anyone taking responsibility for sending Mr. Kovrig to China. It could not have been our ambassador in China because he represents the Government of Canada. Therefore, he does not make decisions on his own. Whoever made the decision is unknown, but, ultimately, it is Justin Trudeau's responsiblity. Where is the "I'm sorry" which he has used so many other times for other people's mistakes.
If one doesn't want to just throw up one's hands and turn off the TV then there is another approach. Turn off the sound and watch the images. That is exactly what the author did. What did he see on three different occasions? 1. He saw Trudeau walking down the stairs of Parliament and answering reporters' questions about the detention of Kovrig. His short speech began with a kind of ironic laugh. It ended with a kind of Cheshire cat grin. 2. There was Goodale blabbering away about a long awaited report on terrorism. Beside him were two mammoth-sized security agents who were trying to act as inconspicuous as possible during the Chinese crises. 3. There was Trudeau saying something about China with Minister Bains behind him. Trudeau was the architect of our Huawei policy, but Bains implemented it. Bains was standing behind him nodding vigorously at everything Trudeau was saying. This was just days after Bains announced that he was the first Liberal to declare his candidacy for the next election in the Mississauga-Milton riding. Good luck! We'll send you the $1 billion bill for the 5G technology debacle as our contribution to your campaign.
At any rate, the Liberal government now has 7 prisoners on its conscience. It cannot possibly be "just" to separate the 2 prisoners from the 5 prisoners with regard to who may be released first. They must be treated equally--according to the law. In fact, the five have been under arrest for much longer than the two have been detained. Therefore, from the Canadian perspective of equality and justice under the law any discussions between China and Canada must involve release of all 7 prisoners at the same time.
Canada is a sovereign country. While it has an extradition treaty with the United States it may be said that neither Canada nor the United States can undertake actions against an individual for political reasons which may threaten that individual's civil rights. If the matter is left to the Canadian courts then an injustice may take place for months if not years while an extradition is contested. Furthermore, more arrests of Canadians abroad may take place other than Kovrig and Spavor. It is certain that the Chinese will remember to address through arbitration their concerns under the China-Canada FIPA Agreement if Trudeau and Freeland insist on how the law must and will be followed under the US Canada extradition treaty.
Canada has the sovereign right to make a direct deal with China on the exchange of prisoners based on its "extradition agreement" with China. However, it does not need nor will it ever need an "extradition treaty" with China. Canada's extradition treaty with the United States does not trump an extradition agreement with China when it is politically motivated by Trump during trade talks between the United States and China. If Trump does not agree with an apparent infringement of the US-Canadian extradition treaty then let him take it to an international court for arbitration. The process takes only about three years. It may be, too, that we may have to cancel our extradition treaty with the United States under the Trump presidency to prevent this kind of thing happening again.
One has heard many times that Canada is in the middle between the United States and China. That situation did not happen by accident but was truly by design. Canada has put itself in the middle. Trudeau was aware of Meng's arrest days in advance. It was not hard to figure out that there were political motives for the forthcoming arrest. It has been recently confirmed. Just say no, Justin. But, Trudeau is forcing Canada to be the monkey in the middle. You remember the children's game where a child is placed in the middle of a circle of children. He tries to catch the ball so that another can be the monkey in the middle. We're tired of monkeying around. We're tired of cleaning up your mess regarding China.
D. Carlton Rossi
D. Carlton Rossi
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