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China’s detention of Canadians part of bid to challenge Western democratic norms, experts say

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VANCOUVER—A common narrative has emerged this month: Canada being caught between two global superpowers vying for dominance.

The notion has been used to frame the detentions of two Canadians in China, an apparent response to Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of authorities in the United States.

Students at China’s Huaibei Normal University wave flags as they watch live coverage of a speech in Beijing by China’s President Xi Jinping in December to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening policy. But experts say Xi is overseeing a retrenchment of authoritarian foreign policy in a bid to challenge the global dominance of Western liberal democratic order.
Students at China’s Huaibei Normal University wave flags as they watch live coverage of a speech in Beijing by China’s President Xi Jinping in December to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening policy. But experts say Xi is overseeing a retrenchment of authoritarian foreign policy in a bid to challenge the global dominance of Western liberal democratic order.  (STR / AFP/Getty Images)

But experts say this explanation obscures a larger truth: that China’s detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are part of an ongoing bid to assert its authoritarian “rule by law” system against the democratic rule-of-law order of the Western world.

Kovrig, an ex-diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, were arrested in China a little more than a week after Meng, a top executive of Chinese telecommunications and tech giant Huawei, was taken into Canadian custody.

Meng was released on $10-million bail on Dec. 11 to one of her multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver to await an extradition hearing.

Read more:

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PowerPoint that snared Meng Wanzhou claims Huawei had business ties with four Iranian companies

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has issued a formal call for the release of the pair of detainees, while the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany and most recently Australia have all issued statements of concern over the apparent political motivations of the pair’s arrests.

The issue runs far deeper than an effort by one country to use detention of foreign nationals to push for the release of its own citizens, said Charles Burton, associate professor of political science at Brock University.

Repeated assertions from Chinese state officials that Meng’s treatment in Canada is motivated purely by political allegiance to the United States has another function, said Burton. Suggesting Meng’s arrest is equivalent to — or worse than — China’s handling of Spavor and Kovrig is the latest chapter in a Chinese government effort to undermine long-standing democratic norms and legitimize its own brand of state-directed justice, he argued.

“The Chinese government denies the reality of judicial independence in Western liberal democracies by insisting that (the current conflict over Kovrig and Spavor) is a political matter and can be resolved by the Canadian prime minister if enough pressure is exerted,” Burton said in a phone interview.

The Chinese regime, he said, wishes to establish a “moral equivalence” between the Chinese and Canadian justice systems.

“And frankly that’s ridiculous, because our system is based on the rule of law and their system is based on rule-by-law, which is that the Chinese Communist Party enforces its political decisions through the use of administrative law.”

Chinese authorities have said Kovrig and Spavor are not under arrest but rather are being held for interrogation in an undisclosed location, effectively allowing them to circumvent international protocols around due process, said Burton.

These “undisclosed locations,” he added, are sometimes called “black jails” — secret, extrajudicial detention centres that the Chinese government has denied exist but Human Rights Watch has documented for nearly a decade.

Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China. Both Kovrig and Spavor disappeared shortly after Canada detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China. Both Kovrig and Spavor disappeared shortly after Canada detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.  (Julie DAVID DE LOSSY/CRISIGROUP/AFP, The Associated Press)

Recently, reports emerged that Kovrig had been denied access to a lawyer and was being kept in a continuously lit cell — a common tactic, according to Burton, used by the Chinese Ministry of State Security along with sensory deprivation and the confinement of prisoners to painful and restrictive “tiger chairs” when those detained are alleged to have threatened Chinese state security through espionage or sabotage.

Nor has any charge been laid against Kovrig or Spavor, Burton added, meaning no legal defence can be mounted on either man’s behalf.

Meng, on the other hand, was allowed to mount a strong defence against serious charges and was granted bail to her family’s home in Vancouver pending an extradition hearing.

“So the idea that Ms. Meng is worse off than the two Canadians who’ve been taken in just is not convincing to anyone who looks into it with any degree of objectivity,” he said, calling claims of equivalency between the Chinese and Canadian justice systems “patently absurd.”

This rhetoric is also a departure from nearly two decades of Beijing gesturing toward an adoption of international norms, Burton added.

In 1998, for instance, China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with the idea the country would eventually move to ratification — a development that would have significant implications for the possibility of strengthening Western-style democracy in China.

“As the years went by … the Chinese Communist Party recognized that if they moved to implement the principles of the (covenant) that could lead to the end of communist rule in China, similar to what happened in Taiwan with their authoritarian government that’s now a democracy,” Burton said.

More recently, actions by the Chinese politburo have explicitly enhanced state participation in the judiciary, meaning the Chinese legal system will now become an even more tightly controlled organ of state — a status which stands in stark contrast to the independence of justice systems in Western democracies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up at The Great Hall Of The People on December 18, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up at The Great Hall Of The People on December 18, 2018 in Beijing, China.  (Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

The projection of Chinese military power in the South China Sea in recent years is another example of the country’s flouting of international rule of law. The Chinese “reclamation” of the disputed region — which included destructive build-outs of man-made islands on reefs — was rejected by an international tribunal that found the country’s actions had violated the maritime rights of the Philippines.

The ruling — seen internationally as a landmark declaration on one of the world’s most contested areas — was swiftly rejected by China, which continues to maintain a constant presence in the region.

Beijing’s only occasional adherence to established liberal democratic norms can be traced back to what can be seen as its national myth, according to Howard W. French, journalism professor at Columbia University and author of Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power.

Like every nation state, China maintains a national myth to legitimize and underpin the priorities and perspectives of the state, French said. And like every national myth, China’s contains both some truth and some fiction that rings true.

The important fiction in China’s national myth, French said, is the story of China’s “century of humiliation” and victimhood at the hands of imperial Western powers, which, he added, does in some ways reflect the historical victimization of China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“This business about having been a victim, of having suffered at the hands of imperial powers, is coupled with another idea, which is that the rules of the world were created by Western nations at a time when China was excluded from the system and China had no say in anything,” French said.

When international rules work for China’s longer or short-term goals, they are framed by China as legitimate, he argued. But when those rules work against governmental ends, mythology can be invoked “to derive a reason not to pay attention to (the rules) or even to undermine the logic” of that order, giving China the ability to play both insider or outsider depending on the needs of the moment, he added.

But striking this contradictory balance can be a challenge, French noted.

“The Chinese party and state have to signal to their people that they’re strong … and signalling to their people that they’re strong while also opportunistically drawing upon notions of victimhood is a tricky game,” he said.

“So this is a public-relations game that China is playing … both victim to illegitimate rules but also feeling a need to say, ‘We’re tough and we’re big now and we’re not going to let ourselves be pushed around by these pernicious westerners.’”

Two protesters hold a sign in favor of the release of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts on December 10, 2018.
Two protesters hold a sign in favor of the release of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts on December 10, 2018.  (JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

And that would make a country like Canada a perfect target for the exercise of Chinese governmental authority as it seeks to both flex its substantial economic and political muscle and declare its historical victimhood to long-standing imperial powers, in this case the United States.

“This could be any kind of small to medium-sized country that runs afoul of China right now that’s going to find itself in a situation like (Canada), whether or not the United States is involved,” he said.

And according to Burton, the desired outcome appears to be a push for broader, international legitimization of Chinese rule-by-law.

“I think (China’s political detention of Canadians) is reflective of their overall trend to assert that their system is suited to Chinese history and culture and has the same moral authority as the democratic system,” he said.

Yet at the heart of this entire conflict is the lives of human beings, which, according to Pamela Kilvadi, a longtime friend of Kovrig, are being used as “pawns” by countries looking to assert their dominance.

Kilvadi, director of the Boston, Mass.-based global policy research firm International Policy Fellowships Network, met Kovrig in Budapest in the 1990s during his days as journalist.

“It seems fairly clear that he’s being used as a political pawn in an international game, and he’s probably also being used an example for those who may be working in civil society organizations or journalists working in international settings that they should be wary of speaking out and wary of working abroad.”

But Kilvadi also said Kovrig is a loyal friend with an insatiable curiosity about the world around him. He’d stayed past the end of his diplomatic contract in China because he loved the country and wished to contribute to peace in the region, she said.

“It’s a tragedy when people who are really trying to forge peace are targeted in these kinds of political games,” she said.

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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