An open letter to the Canadian PM

Wed, Jan 30, 2019 - Page 8

Dear Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

The undersigned, international scholars, religious leaders and former government officials wish to extend their solidarity with Canada on the unfair and unjust detention of three Canadian citizens by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and other pressures that are being put on Canada to comply with the PRC’s demands to turn the legal process in the deportation case of Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) into a political exchange. We admire the way that your government has handled this issue non-politically, in keeping with international law and diplomatic norms.

The detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the new death sentence handed down to Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, are in our view serious infringements on human rights and international law. The Beijing government is playing hostage diplomacy with Canada. We thus urge you to remain strong and uphold the rule of law in the face of the PRC’s intimidating tactics. We also call on our own governments to stand in solidarity with Canada at this time.

As international scholars who have for many decades observed the behavior of the PRC government toward the country of our academic specialization, Taiwan, we must say that China’s actions are regrettably a new norm. The government in Beijing is increasingly using threats and intimidation to get its way, and the international community has been too lax in looking the other way.

Taiwan and Canada are natural allies. The two countries share many of the same values, including democracy, respect for human rights, and a belief in the dignity of the individual. In spite of its momentous transition to democracy in the 1990s — or perhaps because it represented a democratic alternative — Taiwan has long been at the receiving end of pressures and bullying from the rulers in Beijing. Taiwan’s experience in dealing with these may be helpful for Canada at this point.

In fact, Taiwan has had to deal with a very similar situation: In March 2017, a Taiwanese citizen, Mr Lee Ming-che (李明哲), disappeared when he traveled to China. Mr Lee, a longtime and respected human rights worker and democracy advocate, has been in Chinese detention for almost two years now. He was held incommunicado for many months, eventually put on a show trial in September 2017 and sentenced to five years in prison for “subverting state power.”

China also uses economic pressure on Taiwan, including using Taiwanese businesspeople working in China to pressure the government. We note that the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland’s statement on Dec. 7 last year “expressed Canada’s strong disappointment that China is involving private industry and obliging them to take a position on political issues.” Canada and Taiwan are in the same boat, and should cooperate and coordinate much more than they have done before.

We thus recommend that you use this occasion as an opportunity to review and enhance Canada’s relations with a free and democratic Taiwan, strengthening exchanges based on shared values and principles of human rights and democracy.


1. Clive Ansley, international lawyer, Courtenay, British Columbia.

2. J. Michael Cole, senior fellow, University of Nottingham, former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ottawa.

3. Ed File, emeritus professor of social science, York University, Toronto, Ontario.

4. Harry Hsiao, emeritus professor of history, University of Victoria, British Columbia.

5. Andre Laliberte, professor and co-holder of the research chair in Taiwan studies at the University of Ottawa.

6. Diana Lary, emeritus professor of modern Chinese history, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia.

7. Albert J.F. Lin, emeritus professor, Ryerson University, Toronto.

8. The Very Reverend Dr Bruce McLeod, former moderator, United Church of Canada.

9. Judith Nagata, professor of anthropology, York University.

10. Wayne Pajunen, writer and former legislative aide, House of Commons, Ottawa.

11. Terence Russell, senior scholar, Asian Studies Centre, University of Manitoba.

12. Scott Simon, professor and co-holder of the research chair in Taiwan studies at the University of Ottawa.

13. Michael Stainton, Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

14. Wilma Welsh, former missionary to Taiwan and moderator of the 132nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Guelph, Ontario.

15. Wendy Wong, York Centre for Asian Research, York University.

Australia and New Zealand

16. Anne-Marie Brady, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Canterbury, Otautahi-Christchurch, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

17. Kevin Carrico, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

18. Feng Chongyi, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

19. J. Bruce Jacobs, emeritus professor of Asian Languages and Studies, Monash University.

20. David Schak, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.


21. Michael Danielsen, Taiwan Corner, Copenhagen, Denmark.

22. Michael Rand Hoare, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK.

23. Paul Jobin, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and University of Paris Diderot, France.

24. Bruno Kaufmann, European Democracy Foundation, Switzerland.

25. Sasa Istenic Kotar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

26. Lutgard Lams, Faculty of Arts, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

27. Christian Schafferer, Department of International Trade, Overseas Chinese Institute; chair, Austrian Association of East Asian Studies; editor, Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia, Vienna, Austria.

28. Gerrit van der Wees, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and former editor of Taiwan Communique, The Hague, The Netherlands.

29. Michael Yahuda, visiting scholar, George Washington University; professor emeritus at London School of Economics, UK.


30. Fang-ming Chen, emeritus professor and chairman, Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University, Taipei.

31. H. H. Michael Hsiao, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei.

32. Dean Karalekas, South China Sea Think Tank, Taipei.

33. Michael Y.M. Kau, former deputy minister of foreign affairs and former president of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Taipei.

34. Michael Scanlon, Shih Chien University, Kaohsiung.

35. William Stanton, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei.


36. John Tkacik, International Assessment and Strategy Center, retired US foreign service officer, Alexandria, Virginia.

37. Thomas Bartlett, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

38. Joseph Bosco, Georgetown University (retired), formerly at the office of the secretary of defense, US Department of Defense, Washington.

39. Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, New Jersey.

40. Peter Chow, City University of New York, New York.

41. June Teufel Dreyer, University of Miami, Florida.

42. Brock Freeman, American Citizens for Taiwan, Seattle, Washington.

43. Edward Friedman, professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

44. Thomas G. Hughes, former chief of staff to the late US senator Claiborne Pell, Washington.

45. Richard C. Kagan, professor emeritus, Hamline University, St Paul, Minnesota.

46. Perry Link, professor emeritus of East Asian studies, Princeton University, New Jersey.

47. Daniel Lynch, associate professor of International Relations, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

48. Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

49. James Mann, author and fellow in residence at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington.

50. Timothy Rich, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky.

51. Bert Scruggs, Department of East Asian Studies, University of California, Irvine.

52. James D. Seymour, Columbia University, New York City.

53. Peter Tague, professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington.

54. Ross Terrill, Fairbank Center Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

55. Arthur Waldron, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

56. Jack Williams, professor emeritus, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

57. Ambassador Stephen Young, US Department of State (retired), Londonderry, New Hampshire.