Will She, Won’t She?

China Relents, Harper Takes it in Stride

After deciding not to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — after asking for the meeting in the first place — Chairman Hu Jintao has decided to give Canada a shot and will sit down with him after all. Although the Chinese have left explicit instructions that any “irresponsible” discussions about their internal affairs (read: wanton human rights abuse) is off the agenda, Harper has been righteously resolute that he will bring these matters on the table and that he will not sell important Canadian values for the “almighty dollar”.

“I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don’t think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values — our belief in democracy, freedom, human rights,” Mr. Harper said.

This is certainly a laudable stance taken by our Prime Minister and a, somewhat, welcome surprise for many Tibetan freedom supporters and human rights advocates here in Canada. “Somewhat” in the sense that it is still not clear what issues the Prime Minister will exactly discuss with the Chairman and to what extent the talks will eventuate into a meaningful respite for the many millions suffering under the Chinese Communist Party’s fascist regime. Already, there are critics who are decrying the Harper Govt’s latest foreign policy stance, worried that this may cause them to wait a bit longer for that new Audi sedan — freedom of open speech be damned.

While noting that it is certainly possible to maintain warm economic relations with China and a chilly political relationship at the same time, Mr. Evans said Chinese leaders may want to punish Mr. Harper as a warning to other countries not to make human rights too much of an issue.

“There is a reading in China that the Harper government may take a more radical approach to China than any other respected international actor, and they are worried it could set a precedent.”

They are worried that China may back off from Canada because we set a precedent for other countries to become more responsible in their trades practices and negotiations? Pardon this spate of candour but — isn’t this what we’re fucking supposed to be doing?

How in the hell would you otherwise tackle China off its high horse now that it’s the nonpareil darling for all the enterprising, global companies? Make them more accountable, that’s how. We must realize that for all it’s economic growth, projected global dominance and clout; it’s still a country afflicted with a severe identity crisis and unstable economic growth. While China may have a burgeoning middle-class, consumer demograph; the discrepancy of income between urban cities and rural areas is increasing at an alarming rate. Peasants are pissed off, students can’t surf the internet freely, corruption runs rampant in the party et al. Investors must understand that this by no means a risk-free, “guaranteed returns times infinity” investment. And although this is a tried-and-true credence in the business circles, you’ll have to factor in the conscionable seizure of dealing with a party dictatorship that has again and again brushed off the plights of its millions of suffering citizens and crushed any sign of dissent or disapproval. Try taking that to the bank.

It’s a positive sign that Tibet will at least be at the forefront of the APEC summit, what with Bush and Co. pledging to do so. Now, it just remains to be seen how effective the talks will actually turn out at the end of it all.


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