Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Selling out to the ‘almighty dollar’

China does not make concessions on human rights; the rest of the world does. The latest victim is Canada, whose prime minister in 2006 had vowed never to sacrifice human rights to the 'almighty dollar'

It didn’t take long for the Canadian government to show its displeasure with Beijing’s knee-jerk reaction to dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month.

No sooner had Liu’s wife in turn been placed under house arrest by the Chinese security apparatus than Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was telling an audience: “The friendship between Canada and China has ... grown in recent years in the context of a frank and respectful dialogue on the universal principles of human rights and the rule of law.”

Right. Harper also told the conference celebrating 40 years of official Sino-Canadian relations that Canada could now talk to Beijing about human rights in a “respectful” manner that (hold your breath) would not harm trade relations.

It should be mentioned at the outset that Harper’s remarks came as he was hailing the “strategic partnership” (here Ottawa is plagiarizing Beijing’s favorite terminology) that has developed between the two countries — and by this he means Canada starting to look more and more like a source of energy for the Asian superpower.

Not so long ago, Harper was getting heat from the Canadian business community for taking too firm a stance on human rights in China, for vowing, less than four years ago, not to sell out Canadian values to the “almighty dollar.”

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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