Just days before Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to embark on an official state visit to China, Beijing announced that one reporter who was to be part of the delegation would not be allowed to enter the country and denied him a visa.
China and Canada signed various agreements on Wednesday covering the energy, investment and other sectors, as relations between Ottawa and Beijing continue to improve following a decision by the Harper government to soften its rhetoric on China’s human rights situation.
Looking on as a delegation led by Harper brushed elbows with Chinese officials during the three-day visit were oil and business executives, as well as a retinue of reporters. However, one figure was missing: Matthew Little of the Epoch Times, an accredited member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
Beijing’s decision was hardly surprising, given that the paper has a long tradition of criticizing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its treatment of activists, religious groups and ethnic minorities in China.
Predictable though this was, the denial of Little’s entry visa is yet another example of the manner in which, little by little, China uses its influence to warp liberal democracies by imposing a series of conditions for conducting business.
The visit was far too important for Harper to have allowed the issue of one hapless reporter to derail everything — and Beijing knows that. As long as countries seeking to build a relationship with China continue to approach it as beggars rather than equals, CCP officials will have little compunction in drawing red lines over free speech or human rights.
We’ve now entered a period that we could call “diplomacy with Chinese characteristics,” where the promise of profit through “strategic” relations with China is accompanied by silence on a variety of issues. This is an age where it has become customary and increasingly acceptable, it seems, for China to request that partners exclude potential critics like Little, who is just one among many journalists, writers and academics who have been sidelined for refusing to hold their silence.
It is interesting to note that rarely, if ever, have liberal governments answered Beijing in kind whenever top Chinese officials visited their country. When was the last time a Western country denied a visa to a Chinese reporter from, say, the CCP-run People’s Daily, for promoting Han chauvinism in a manner that borders on the xenophobic, or encouraged the use of force against Tibetans, Uighurs, Taiwanese, Falun Gong practitioners — or any of the claimants to disputed islets in the South China Sea? China takes, while the rest of the world gives, slowly bringing about the “Beijing consensus” that Stefan Halper warns against in his book of the same title.
Taiwan under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has also jumped on the bandwagon, allowing in a number of CCP officials, mayors and thinkers who, under normal circumstances, should probably have been barred entry. In Taiwan and elsewhere, it has become permissible for governments to deny visits by figures such as the Dalai Lama or Uighur leader-in-exile Rebiya Kadeer, but whoever called for similar measures to be taken against Chinese officials is accused of “hating China” or irrationality.
There is nothing wrong with conducting business with China. Such a development is, in fact, natural and inevitable, given its economic growth and increasing importance on the international stage. However, this doesn’t mean that in the process of engagement we should lose the courage to stand up for what we believe in. Some countries, like Canada and Australia, have an abundance of natural resources that are coveted by China. Could this not be used as leverage in negotiations with China, allowing these countries to negotiate from a position of strength and principle, rather than as supplicants?
As the incursions by China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone intensify, the international community’s anxiety has risen over the question of whether the US military would become directly involved in the case of an attack on Taiwan. Washington’s long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” does little to ease the trepidation. The rationale universally espoused on “strategic ambiguity” is that an announced commitment from Washington to directly defend Taiwan would encourage Taiwanese independence and consequently bring forth a Chinese military attack and a possible nuclear confrontation between two superpowers. However, this line of argument could soon lose steam if the subject is viewed from
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
Just a few days after an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May announced that a domestically produced vaccine against the virus would become available late this month. At the time, even though the government had placed orders for the Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, just 700,000 of the doses had arrived, and many Taiwanese were reluctant to get inoculated, in no small part due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) disinformation campaign about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s alleged shortcomings. Before the outbreak, the government had been successful in keeping the number of infections to a minimum,