U.S. response to detained Canadians in China not strong enough: Sen. Lindsey Graham – National


U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday the response by the United States to China detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive has not been strong enough.

Chinese ambassador threatens ‘repercussions’ on Canada if Huawei 5G banned

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Graham also told Munich Security Conference delegates the international reaction to China’s arrest of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor hasn’t been enough to persuade China that its apparent use of hostage diplomacy won’t be tolerated.

“The president has been tough on China but this is one area where I think we need to make a more definitive statement, because the two people arrested in China had nothing to do with the rule of law. It was just grabbing two Canadians,” Graham said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who appeared on the panel with Graham, mouthed the words “thank you” to Graham after he said it. Roland Paris, one of the delegates and a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asked Graham about it.

WATCH: Pompeo says U.S. might scale back operations with countries that are doing business with Huawei

U.S. ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft said last Saturday her country is “deeply concerned” about China’s “unlawful” detention of the two Canadians in what was her first public comments on the cases since China detained them on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.

Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

China also re-sentenced a convicted Canadian drug smuggler, Robert Schellenberg, to death after the Meng arrest as part of an apparent campaign of intimidation and retribution against Canada.

Analysis: China pulling out all the stops to force Canada to back down

Some analysts have said the U.S. response to China’s arrests of the two Canadians has been muted. U.S. President Donald Trump himself has not commented on the Canadians. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has, saying China ought to release them. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders and the State Department have issued brief statements of support.

Beijing threatened grave consequences for America’s neighbour and longtime ally after Meng was arrested at Vancouver’s airport.

Canada has embarked on a campaign with allies to win the release of Kovrig and Spavor, and many countries have issued statements in support.

WATCH: Trudeau says China trying to interfere with Canada’s judiciary by asking for release of Huawei CFO

“These are human beings and they only thing they did was be Canadian in China,” Freeland said. Freeland said she would be grateful if more countries spoke out.

“We will all be stronger and safer if we all can do that for each other,” she said. “We can’t descend to a might-makes-right world and that’s especially essentially for middle powers.”

The two Canadians were detained on vague allegations of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China. They remain locked up without access to lawyers.

Meng is out on bail in Canada and awaiting extradition proceedings.


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Why experts say Canada should follow Australia’s lead on China in wake of Huawei crisis


VANCOUVER—Canada should not be afraid to follow Australia’s lead in standing up to Beijing in policy and practice, say experts who have analyzed foreign relations for decades.

Ottawa has long prioritized economic gain over national security, worrying over the state of its relationship with the global heavyweight rather than voicing and defending its interests, say analysts.

Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne visited Beijing for his first time last month, which analysts say suggests that new, hawkish Australian security policy has been taken in stride by its heavyweight neighbour.
Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne visited Beijing for his first time last month, which analysts say suggests that new, hawkish Australian security policy has been taken in stride by its heavyweight neighbour.  (Andy Wong / The Associated Press)

The Australian experience shows that, over time, Beijing will make room for firmly drawn boundaries. A case in point is the 2018 overhaul of Australian national security and foreign interference laws that added 38 new crimes to the books. They cover, among other things, engaging in covert activity at the behest of a foreign power to influence politics and a ban on foreign political donations.

Then in February 2019, Australia blocked the citizenship application of billionaire Huang Xiangmo, a prominent political donor and former top lobbyist for Beijing, stranding him, possibly for good, outside the country where he had lived with his family for most of a decade.

Observers in both Australia and Canada said these developments constitute a “clear signal” meant to usher in a new, more muscular era for Australian national security in its response to potential threats from foreign actors, including its largest trading partner.

Despite sharp words from Beijing on the new, more hawkish stance, Beijing invited Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne to visit in November 2018, the first time in nearly three years an Australian holding that office had stepped foot on Chinese soil. Likewise, Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne visited China at the end of January 2019, even as reports confirmed that Australian writer Yang Hengjun was being held on suspicion of endangering national security.

Read more:

Global anxiety reflected in Australian outcry over Canadians detained in China

Huawei Night in Canada: Inside tech giant’s push to burnish its brand

Trudeau silent on how Huawei controversy will figure into private talk with Telus exec

An expert in Asian security and international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne said this suggests diplomatic relations between Australia and China are being “reset,” despite significant tensions over the new legislation, Huang’s citizenship, and the imprisoned Australian writer.

“To me it proves that if you’re willing to just maintain your continuity of policy, not give in to pressure and don’t feel you have to buckle because of a perceived risk of economic retaliation, China can accommodate that over time in the relationship,” said Euan Graham, executive director of La Trobe Asia, who is charge of the school’s Asia strategy.

Tensions between Western countries and China should be expected, Graham said, and it’s important to accept that reality as part of the narrative so “we don’t just dress things up in terms of ever-closer friendship and partnership, because that has failed to carry the public with it.”

After extensive redrafting, Australia’s new laws passed with bipartisan support in parliament, suggesting heightened vigilance has become a permanent feature of Australia’s stance toward Beijing and other foreign powers.

“Australia’s experience should be an example for us, not just because it is admirably clear-eyed, but because it shows a degree of self-confidence that we should emulate,” David Mulroney, who was Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012, wrote in an email.

“China commonly seeks to compel its adversaries to capitulate without a struggle,” said Mulroney, who is now a fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. “We shouldn’t be afraid to stick to our principles because we’ll find that, despite its bluster, China is pragmatic and will seek to protect its own considerable interests in the relationship with Canada.”

Conservative MP Peter Kent said both Canada and China have “learned the hard way,” that the Communist Party of China (CCP) will use the country’s economic might to meet its “imperial objectives” by leaning on both Western countries and developing nations.

Kent, who served as a federal minister and international executive co-chair of the China council under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pointed to “predatory economic policies” in countries like Panama, where China made several major national investments in order to “leverage” the Panamanian government into cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Kent characterized the move as “loansharking to gain influence” in Beijing’s bid to isolate Taiwan — a self-governing, democratic nation which China considers part of its territory — from international support.

“Increasingly, during our years in government, we learned to be much more cautious about an increasingly aggressive, imperialistic, bullying Chinese government,” he said.

Beijing’s growing economic influence signals a shift in “world order,” he added, which demands a change in Ottawa’s approach to engagement with China.

The issue of foreign influence and interference in the Canadian political sphere is another ongoing, slippery problem that successive governments have grappled with, Kent said.

“I hope the Liberal government is finally realizing that China is not like our democratic partners, that China does not recognize the rule of law or a level playing field or treaties or contracts signed, and it is time to rethink, perhaps, that relationship in the way that Australia has.”

But, he cautioned, with tensions between China and Canada escalating, now may not be the time to attempt redress with new legislation, which could be seen as a direct indictment of Beijing by an already-furious Communist Party.

The Dec. 1 arrest in Vancouver by Canadian authorities of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of star Chinese tech giant Huawei, outraged Chinese officials, who have since lobbed accusations of “backstabbing” and “white supremacy” at the Canadian government. In the following weeks, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest, which observers have called “hostage diplomacy.”

China's Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye is one of several Communist Party officials to take aim at Canada over its arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in December. Experts say threats are par for the course in dealings with Beijing, and Australia's example shows boundaries can earn respect from the Chinese state.
China’s Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye is one of several Communist Party officials to take aim at Canada over its arrest of a top Chinese tech executive in December. Experts say threats are par for the course in dealings with Beijing, and Australia’s example shows boundaries can earn respect from the Chinese state.  (The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, a federal review of the potential security risks posed by Huawei equipment in Canada’s forthcoming 5G infrastructure is underway. Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye has warned of “repercussions” should Canada follow the example of New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia in banning the company from such projects.

But allowing national security to be overshadowed by the quest to appease an increasingly belligerent foreign power is what brought Canada to its current diplomatic impasse to begin with, argued Alex Joske, a researcher working with the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

“This is really something that to some extent the West has brought on itself by tolerating misbehaviour and non-compliance to international agreements and public statements and promises from China for many decades now,” said Joske, an expert in CCP influence, overseas Chinese communities and Chinese military technology.

“Because countries have historically taken this quite simple approach to engagement, where engagement itself was seen as a good, that’s just led to a lot of countries downplaying — or not really looking closely enough at — cases where engagement is actually not contributing to their national interest.”

But Paul Evans, director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia, said while he believes some areas of Canadian law need reform to address the challenges that face a modern nation-state, Australia is not the example to follow.

“What I don’t support is the Australian national legislation,” he said, pointing to civil rights groups in the country who argue the new laws could be exploited by Australian officials looking to clamp down on domestic dissent by criminalizing protests or silencing opinions critical of government.

In particular, Evans worries Australia’s legislation risks blurring the line between citizens whose perspectives align with the Chinese government and those actively seeking to undermine the Canadian political process for the benefit of the Communist Party.

“I think (such laws are) unnecessary in Canada, because we have certain antibodies, or antidotes, to Chinese influence activities here that are not perfect, but that generally (work) fairly well.”

He pointed to numerous Chinese-Canadian communities that are finely attuned to identifying local players in organizations that work to realize Communist Party goals globally. They include the United Front, an offshoot of the CCP which works to influence local politics, the Chinese diaspora and foreign elites.

Huang Xiangmo, the Chinese national whose permanent residency was recently revoked in Australia, was chairman of the Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, which Australian analysts confirmed is “the number one United Front organization within Australia.”

The United Front is likewise active in Canada, according to Charles Burton, an expert on the foreign policies of Western nations toward China.

He said conversations around the limits and potential overreach of a Canadian legislation modelled on the Australian example would be challenging if not arduous.

But, he argued, difficult conversations are necessary given the charged and increasingly perilous nature of global relations, where the balance of economic power is shifting from the U.S. to China.

In the past, Canadian policy has been geared toward securing greater access to the Chinese market to “promote Canadian prosperity and to reduce our dependence on the United States,” said Burton, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad. Meanwhile, the concerns of Canadians over issues such as China’s human rights violations and pugnacious international conduct have been seen as secondary to the pursuit of expanding trade, he added.

The current conflict between countries does suggest that strengthening foreign policy now would not be “politically prudent,” Burton said. But once the Kovrig and Spavor cases are resolved, that would be the time to revise Canada’s plan on how it should engage China.

The Australian Embassy in Beijing. Experts say Australia's relationship with China provides proof a balance can be struck between clear-eyed engagement and clearly articulated, firmly defended national security policy.
The Australian Embassy in Beijing. Experts say Australia’s relationship with China provides proof a balance can be struck between clear-eyed engagement and clearly articulated, firmly defended national security policy.  (The Associated Press)

Australia’s example also provides lessons in terms of how intelligence services can most effectively track, monitor and address foreign interference, said Wesley Wark, a security and intelligence expert who served two terms on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on National Security from 2005 to 2009.

“One of the real problems for Canada is for the last 17, 18 years, we’ve been obsessively focused with the question of terrorism, at home and globally,” he said in an interview.

“And because of that focus, we’ve paid much less attention, given much fewer resources, to dealing with both foreign intelligence on major state actors and foreign interference in terms of intelligence and espionage activities,” said Wark, who is currently director of the Security and Policy Institute for Professional Development at the University of Ottawa.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior manager and senior intelligence officer with CSIS, said competing perspectives on what form new Canadian foreign policy laws should take is exactly the reason legislation is needed.

From a national security perspective, he said the “Achilles heel” of democracy is that governments constantly pursue reelection. Because political winds may shift every several years, policy can be overturned when leaders change.

This is not the case with China.

“The Chinese government is there to stay. This allows them, with the central committee, to plan not only years ahead, but generations ahead … So agents of influence can be planted which will bear fruit only years from now. They have the capability to be patient.”

It’s a competitive advantage that short-sighted Western governments are hard-pressed to address through policy alone, he said.

The value of a law is that it survives regime changes. And while thrashing out new, potentially controversial legislation can take years, it’s a challenge that can — and must — be resolved, said Juneau-Katsuya.

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


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U.S. ambassador to Canada calls on China to release Canadians from ‘unlawful’ detention


The U.S. ambassador to Canada said Saturday her country is « deeply concerned » about China’s « unlawful » detention of two Canadians.

Ambassador Kelly Craft said in a statement to The Associated Press the arrests of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor are « unacceptable » and urged China to end the arbitrary detentions. It is her first public comments on the cases.

China detained the two on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.

Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder.

The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

Craft said the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal case against Meng is based solely on the evidence and the law.

« The United States appreciates Canada’s steadfast commitment to the rule of law, » she said.

Michael Spavor, left, and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody in December. (Associated Press/International Crisis Group/Canadian Press)

Some analysts have said the U.S. response to China’s arrests of the two Canadians has been muted. President Donald Trump has not commented on the Canadians. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has, saying China ought to release them. The State Department has also issued statements of support.

Craft made no mention of China’s planned execution of a third Canadian. China re-sentenced a convicted Canadian drug smuggler to death last month as part of an apparent determined campaign of intimidation and retribution against Canada.

Beijing threatened grave consequences for Canada after Meng was arrested.

Watch: How can Canada, China mend relationship following Meng arrest?

Canada-China relations are at their worst since the 1970s, according to some analysts. What can be done to mend the fences, and what’s the state of Canada’s broader foreign policy strategy? Our At Issue Panel is here to discuss. 12:17

Canada has embarked on a campaign with allies to win the release of Kovrig and Spavor and many countries have issued statements in support.

The two were detained on vague allegations of « engaging in activities that endanger the national security » of China. They remain locked up without access to lawyers.

Meng is out on bail in Canada and living in one of her two Vancouver mansions awaiting extradition proceedings.

Despite the escalating frictions resulting from the detentions, trade talks between Beijing and the Trump administration remain ongoing. The U.S. has taken pains to emphasize that their trade talks are entirely separate from the U.S. case against Meng.


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McCallum’s firing an opportunity to ‘reset’ relations with China: former diplomat – National


The firing of John McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China represents an opportunity for the two countries to reset their relationship, according to a former diplomat.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that McCallum had been told to hand in his resignation hours after he was quoted saying it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S. dropped its extradition request for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

McCallum’s firing left Ottawa’s strategy for navigating tensions with Beijing in disarray; it came days after the former immigration minister and Liberal MP said he misspoke in telling Chinese-language journalists that Meng had arguments that could aid her legal fight against extradition.

READ MORE: McCallum out as Canadian ambassador to China after comments on Meng extradition

“It’s an opportunity to reset the relationship. We’ve now got the opportunity to put in a new ambassador,” Colin Robertson, former diplomat and vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said on The West Block on Sunday.

“I think we should also be pushing for a new Chinese ambassador because some of the comments that he’s made about white supremacy are just off the reservation,” Robertson added in reference to ambassador Lu Shaye’s accusation that Canada’s calls for the release of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were driven by “Western egotism and white supremacy.”

WATCH: Government explains firing of Canada’s Ambassador to China

Robertson said the appointment of new ambassadors could pave the way for more fruitful engagement, and that the Canadian government should “impress upon the Chinese that we’re prepared to engage with them.”

However, the first priority is getting Kovrig and Spavor released and convincing China to mitigate the death sentence handed to convicted drug smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, Robertson added.

In the wake of McCallum’s resignation, Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent the country in China as charge d’affaires effective immediately, Trudeau said.

READ MORE: McCallum’s comments ‘unhelpful’ in securing release of Canadians detained in China, Mendocino says

Canada’s strategy is being closely watched by Western allies such as Australia and the U.K., Robertson said, “because they could be in this same situation so that’s why they’re banding behind us.”

But he acknowledged that, ultimately, Canada is in the middle of a spat between two far more powerful players in the U.S. — which is seeking Meng’s extradition — and China.

“I don’t think much is going to happen until the China-U.S. relationship is sorted out and, of course, we’re through this extradition hearing with Meng Wanzhou,” Robertson said.

— With files from the Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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John McCallum fired as ambassador to China amid diplomatic crisis


John McCallum has been fired as Canada’s ambassador to China.

« Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s Ambassador to China, » Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Saturday.

A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed Trudeau delivered the news to McCallum himself.

The statement didn’t offer a reason for the removal, which comes in the middle of a diplomatic crisis with China. It caps off an especially tough week for McCallum after he controversially waded into the extradition request against Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Chinese telecom company Huawei.

On Tuesday McCallum, a longtime Liberal, was quoted telling a gathering of Chinese-language journalists in Toronto that he thought she had a strong case to fight extradition to the U.S. and listed several arguments he thought could help her with her case.

On Thursday, he said he misspoke with those statements.

Then, just the next day, he told a StarMetro Vancouver reporter it would be « great for Canada » if the United States dropped their extradition request against the Huawei executive.

He also said if the U.S. and China make a deal on Meng’s case, it should include the release of the two Canadian men detained in China.

« We have to make sure that if the U.S. does such a deal, it also includes the release of our two people. And the U.S. is highly aware of that, » McCallum told the Star.

Former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said he believes it was the latest round of comments that prompted his firing. 

« Unfortunately I think the prime minister had no choice but to ask for the resignation of Mr. McCallum, » he said.

« He should have shown a bit more restraint, in my view. »

The firing appears to put the government’s China policy in disarray just days before the U.S. makes a final decision on extraditing Meng and comes at a time that Canada faces difficulties in its relationships with Russia, India, Saudi Arabia and China. These days its historical ally in the White House is often at odds with Canadian foreign policy.

Weakness on this file: Scheer

The decision came too late for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer who had called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire McCallum earlier in the week, following his first set of comments.

At the time Trudeau brushed off the call, saying his government’s focus is on getting detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor released from China and recalling McCallum wouldn’t achieve that.

« This decision should have been made days ago. Instead [Trudeau has] shown weakness on this file and damaged Canada’s reputation and our ability to handle this very important issue where Canadians’ treatment in China is being affected by this, » Scheer told reporters Saturday.

The NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Hélène Laverdière, said McCallum’s inappropriate statements could complicate the file.

« This chaos has not helped Canadians abroad and has caused confusion everywhere, » she said in a statement. 

« In addition, we remain concerned about President Trump’s statements that he would use this extradition as a bargaining chip in his trade negotiations. We believe that the legal process must follow its course without interference from anyone. »

For now, Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent Canada in China as chargé d’affaires.

Saint-Jacques said the search for a new ambassador in Beijing could take months, straining an already fractured relationship.

« It really complicates things. In my view, this crisis is the worst we have seen with China since we established diplomatic relations back in 1970, » he said. 

« There is a risk of more turbulence in the months ahead. »

‘Play it very delicately’

Lynette Ong, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, said McCallum was liked in China, making explaining his removal difficult. 

When McCallum took over the Beijing posting following a 2017 cabinet shuffle, he eagerly pointed out his strong personal connection to China. His wife is ethnically Chinese and he had a large Chinese-Canadian constituency in his former federal riding in Markham, Ont.

« I think we need to play it very delicately with the Chinese, » Ong said.

« Firing someone that they could actually trust, I think we need to do some explanation to the Chinese authorities. We also need to be tough but at the same time assertive to the United States that they really need to jump in here to help us get out of the situation to secure the release of the two Canadians. »

Watch: China demands release of Huawei CFO

A Chinese official is accusing Canada and the U.S. of abusing the extradition system after the U.S. Department of Justice says it will formally ask Canada to extradite the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant, Huawei. That announcement ensures a drawn-out, bitter dispute between the three countries. 2:48

In his statement, Trudeau thanked McCallum for his years of service, including his time as immigration and refugees minister.

« For almost two decades, John McCallum has served Canadians honourably and with distinction, » he wrote.

« His work as minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship in bringing in over 39,500 Syrian refugees remains an inspiration to Canadians and an example to the world. I thank him and his family for his service over the past many years. »

The Liberal party’s Quebec MPs were meeting today in Quebec City, but offered no more details.

« I wanted to just thank John McCallum for all his work for Canada. [I] had the chance to sit with him for many years in Ottawa, » said Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.


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The upside of the Huawei confrontation: It’s teaching Canada to be wary of China


Some news stories are such a big puzzle that a journalist can sit looking at a handful of pieces and not realize for a long time that they are part of a large, coherent picture.

For me, the story of the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration and recruiting of agents of influence in Canada has been just like that.

Jonathan Manthorpe, author of Claws of the Panda. He is also a former Toronto Star Queen’s Park columnist and European bureau chief.
Jonathan Manthorpe, author of Claws of the Panda. He is also a former Toronto Star Queen’s Park columnist and European bureau chief.  (Cormorant books)

Looking back now, I can see that pieces of the story began to fall into my lap when I was a political correspondent in Ontario in the early 1970s. And the hints started elbowing their way into my consciousness more persistently when I became a foreign correspondent in the late 1970s. In 1993, when I was appointed the Asia correspondent for Southam News, based in Hong Kong, the pieces came flying at me faster than I could catch them and work out how they fitted together.

So it was not until two years ago that I saw I had the full picture, and felt confident enough to sit down and write the outline for what has become my book, Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada.

What is astonishing is that just as the book was completed, the story of Meng Wanzhou and Huawei Technologies, of which she is the chief financial officer, broke.

The detention of Meng in Vancouver at the beginning of December on an extradition warrant from the U.S. Department of Justice, leans on a number of issues and themes running through the book.

So does the associated question of whether Canada should risk allowing a company closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) like Huawei to install the next generation 5G mobile communications network here. The government in Ottawa already has its own security intelligence officials warning that Huawei’s network could be a window for CCP espionage, and Canada’s allies the United States, Australia and New Zealand have already restricted the company.

What must infuriate the CCP, its diplomats and agents in Canada is that it was to avoid this sort of embarrassment that Beijing worked for 70 years or more to establish a network of friends and sympathizers in Canada.

But it is the CCP’s actions in taking hostage two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — that has shattered Beijing’s image among its Canadian friends and supporters.

Chinese police are seen patrolling in front of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing last month. A new book, Claws of the Panda, argues that the Chinese Communist Party has spent decades manipulating Canadians.
Chinese police are seen patrolling in front of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing last month. A new book, Claws of the Panda, argues that the Chinese Communist Party has spent decades manipulating Canadians.  (GREG BAKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The Meng-Huawei affair has confronted Canadians and Beijing’s Canadian friends and supporters in politics, business and academia with the clash in values between the two societies. With the Canadian public so clearly outraged by the CCP’s actions and the nonsensical allegations being made by Beijing’s officials, even the party’s strongest Canadian supporters have no option but to retreat.

Until now, the network of Canadian supporters has worked well in Beijing’s favour. Successive Canadian governments of both main political parties have been dependable supporters of Beijing as the CCP regime emerged from the isolationism of the 1960s and 1970s, rode the waves of its commercial opening up, and now strides confidently forward as an economic and military super power.

Read More:

Trudeau’s bid for a deal with U.S. on detainees

Chantal Hébert on McCallum’s flip-flop

How Meng’s secret passport works

Ottawa’s support through diplomatic recognition in 1970, and the minimizing of criticism over the Tiananmen Square massacre, cultural genocide in Tibet and Xinjiang, and Beijing’s imperial expansion in the South China Sea has been matched by Canada’s business and academic communities.

Canadian businesses have been mesmerized by the fanciful desire to get access to the Chinese market of 1.2 billion people. So addictive has been that hope that they have been largely silent about the persistent theft of their technologies and other intellectual property by Chinese partners.

More troubling perhaps, the fixation of Canadian businesses on the China market has tended to blind them to far more promising prospects in other parts of Asia.

Something similar has happened in Canadian colleges and universities. What started as a dream in the 1970s when China opened up to Canadian scholarship has become a nightmare.

What began as a well-motivated effort to give students from China the skills they needed to develop their country has become something else. Canadian universities have become the crime scenes of technology theft, a trend that is hard to reverse as several academic institutions have become dependant on tuition revenues from Chinese students.

There is an even darker side. The CCP and its agents are determined to keep control of Chinese students here, both to dissuade them from becoming political dissidents and to marshal them to support Beijing’s causes.

The Beijing-financed Chinese cultural centres called Confucius Institutes set up in several Canadian colleges, universities and schools are essentially outposts for Beijing’s diplomats and intelligence agents to keep tabs on Chinese students.

After the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warned the academic institutions about the darker functions of these institutes, several have been closed.

The Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to control the message reaching Canadians, especially Canadians of Chinese heritage, about Beijing’s activities extends into the media.

Starting about 20 years ago, the CCP and its agents began exerting pressure on the publishers and managers of Chinese-language media in Canada. Those with other business interests in China have been particularly vulnerable to the CCP’s pressure; out of the scores of Chinese language media outlets in Canada, only a small handful present independent journalism.

Perhaps the most venal activity of CCP agents is the intimidation here in Canada of people the party considers dissidents or a threat to its continued monopoly on power.

Early in 2017, a group of Canadian organizations promoting political reform in China and Beijing’s adherence to international human rights standards prepared a report on CCP violations in Canada.

That report was presented to officials in Global Affairs Canada, CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in April that year. It has become part of the joint indictment among Canada’s allies of the CCP’s predatory actions among the diaspora of people of ethnic Chinese origin.

The cover of Claws of the Panda, by Jonathan Manthorpe. Learn more at Cormorant Books.
The cover of Claws of the Panda, by Jonathan Manthorpe. Learn more at Cormorant Books.

An essential theme that I have woven through the story in Claws of the Panda is that it is Canadians of Chinese, Tibetan, Taiwanese and Uyghur origin who are the main target and victims of the CCP’s campaign of intimidation here.

What reinforces and confirms that picture is that the CCP is conducting almost exactly the same campaigns in Australia, New Zealand and the United States

In the end, I think the Huawei-Meng affair must be regarded as a positive turning point in the story of Canada-China relations. For the first time since the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, Canada’s leaders and opinion-makers have been forced to look at Canada’s relationship with Beijing as it really is, and not as they would like it to be.

The CCP’s values and objectives are not like those of Canada and never will be. This is not an argument for Canada to disengage from China under the CCP regime. That is neither possible nor desirable.

But it is an argument for ending the naivete and wishful thinking with which China has been regarded, and address Beijing from now on in a mood of skeptical realism.

Jonathan Manthorpe is the author of three books on international relations, politics and history. He has been a foreign correspondent and international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years. From 1976-1981 he worked as the Star’s Queen’s Park columnist and European bureau chief. jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada is due to be published by Cormorant Books on Feb. 2.


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Canada’s ambassador to China backs Meng’s chances of fighting extradition to the U.S.


OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is standing by his ambassador to China who voiced his opinion that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has “quite good” and “strong arguments” to fight extradition from Canada to the United States.

In a series of surprisingly frank comments, John McCallum revealed new details about the strain Meng’s arrest has placed on Canada-China relations, his opinion that her legal chances of fighting the extradition are very good, and allied’ pressure Canada faces to ban Huawei.

Speaking to mostly Chinese-language media in his former riding, McCallum expressed regret over the “difficult situation” and hope that if the U.S. cuts a deal with China in which it dropped Meng’s extradition, that China would release two detained Canadians.

“I think she has quite good arguments on her side: one, political involvement by comments from Donald Trump in her case; two, there’s an extraterritorial aspect to her case; and three, there’s the issue of Iran sanctions, which are involved in her case, and Canada does not sign onto these Iran sanctions,” said McCallum.

“So I think she has some strong arguments that she can make before a judge, and then the judge will decide whether he thinks — he or she thinks that she should be extradited or not.

McCallum revealed new details of how angrily China’s leader reacted to Canada’s arrest of Meng.

“What I do know is that President Xi Jinping was very angry about this. And so others in the Chinese government have taken the lead from him. And — and I don’t know exactly why. Maybe it is because Huawei is a national flagship company of China. And so it’s not just any company; it’s a special Chinese company, so maybe that is why he is so angry, or there may be other reasons that I don’t know.”

McCallum said when the foreign ministry summoned him after the Meng arrest to formally object and demand Meng’s release, the meeting was “very hostile.”

McCallum expressed regret over the impact of it all on the Canada-China relationship.

“I still want those ties to be strengthened. I am sorry that this incident, this difficult incident, arose. It was a total surprise for everybody in Canada. But it happened, and we have to deal with it.”

“One, she is deported, she is extradited. That would not be a happy outcome, and that would take years before it happened because she would have the right to appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada. But I’m just talking options. I’m not saying what’s good and what’s bad.”

“The second option would be that the United States made some kind of a deal with China, and part of the deal would be that they would no longer seek her extradition. And we would hope, if the U.S. made such a deal, part of the deal would also be to release the two Canadians…but that is more under the control of the United States than it is under the control of Canada.

“And the third option…is that she could be released by a Canadian court. And that would be up to the judge, and her hearing will occur in several months.”

While Trudeau did not say explicitly that he agreed with McCallum that Meng has “strong arguments,” the prime minister did not publicly criticize McCallum for breaking with his government’s practice of refraining from expressing any view of the strength of the U.S. extradition case against Meng.

“I think part of the strength of our justice system is that people get to mount their own defence and I know she (Meng) will do that,” said Trudeau in Saskatchewan Wednesday.

“I know we will ensure as a government and as a country that all the rules and the independence of our justice system is properly defended and properly supported.”

At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, Canada arrested Meng on a provisional arrest warrant on Dec. 1.

The U.S. wants Canada to extradite Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei, to face fraud charges. The U.S. accuses her of misleading multinational banks about Huawei’s ties to a company doing business in Iran, and put them at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

McCallum’s remarks are a much franker and more sobering view of the United States’ case against her — one that until now, the Liberal government has refrained from expressing publicly. It could put Canada’s justice minister in an awkward position when it comes to whether to ultimately surrender Meng to the U.S.

McCallum also said while Canada has not yet taken a decision on whether to ban Huawei from participating in Canada’s 5G network, he admitted there’s “pressure” to ban it.

“Other members of what we call the Five Eyes — United States, Australia, UK, New Zealand — have said no to Huawei, or at least UK, one of their big companies has. So there’s pressure on Canada to say no,” McCallum said.

McCallum tried to insist nevertheless that the fate of Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, is up to the courts to decide, not the federal Liberal government.

“My point is that I know this has angered China, but we have a system of extradition treaty, a system of rules of law which are above the government. The government cannot change these things.

“And as I said, I think Ms. Meng has quite a strong case. Indeed, the father of Ms. Meng, the founder of Huawei, has said publicly that he thinks that …the justice system will give her a fair trial.”

B.C. lawyer Gary Botting, an expert in extradition law, said in an interview with the Star that McCallum tried to “neutralize” his comments with those caveats.

But Botting also defended McCallum, saying that until the U.S. legal case is properly before a court, “it’s fair game for somebody like McCallum to make a comment like this.”

Botting, who has written 10 books on extradition law, said Trudeau’s oft-repeated talking points, that Canada will follow the “rule of law” in the case, “are a red herring.”

He said the Meng case — and any extradition decision — is anything but a simple legal matter and absolutely takes account — and should weigh — political factors.

He said the Canada-U.S. extradition treaty and the extradition act both grant the government power to decline to an extradition request if it believes a case like the one against Huawei is politicized or is part of a political agenda.

The federal government now has two opportunities to exert its own power to decline an extradition — when it decides whether to send an extradition request to court in the first place, and when it decides whether to surrender a wanted person after a court rules the papers are all in order.

Botting slammed the Canadian government for repeatedly leaving that first decision — whether to issue an “authority to proceed” to put the case to a Canadian court — up to Justice Department officials.

“It’s the tail wagging the dog, frankly,” he said.

Another legal expert agreed McCallum’s comments are not entirely inappropriate.

“This is legitimate rebuke against the (U.S.) president,” said University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes, and shows “his intervention undermines the legitimacy of the rule of law process in the extradition hearing. It may be a desire to show China that we are not servile to the wishes of the Trump administration.”

But Mendes said while Meng may well have a strong case to defend, “until the evidence is presented and analyzed, it is too early to either suggest a strong case or a slam dunk case either.”

He said Trudeau gave a more politically “nuanced” view of things.

“Given that it is important for Canada to stand by a rigorous support for the rule of law process not just in this extradition case, but also even against Trump and China in other areas such as in the international trade law arena, we can’t afford to side with either China or the U.S. when they attack the fundamental norms of the rule of law.”

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told a Bloomberg interviewer on Tuesday the Canadian government has not and will not ask the U.S. to drop its extradition.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at Wednesday’s daily briefing in Beijing declined to comment on the prospect of harm to U.S.-China trade talks, but said that “the U.S. side claimed that its extradition request to Canada is essentially related to the U.S. sanction bills on Iran.”

She said Huawei says “it complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates” and added China opposes the “U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran outside the framework of the UN Security Council.”

“What the U.S. has done does not accord with the international law and has been opposed by the whole world, including its allies. The Canadian side is also opposed to that.”

“Therefore, the U.S. actions… are highly political and are in nature scientific bullying.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc


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China tells U.S. to back off Meng extradition demand and warns of ‘further response’


OTTAWA—China is stepping up criticism of the United States over the American demand that Canada extradite Meng Wanzhou, saying the Trump administration should drop its pursuit of fraud allegations against the Huawei executive and warning of a “further response” if the U.S. doesn’t “correct its mistakes.”

On Tuesday, Chinese government spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that the U.S. should “immediately correct its mistake, withdraw its arrest order for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and refrain from making a formal extradition request to the Canadian side.”

Asked whether there would be an impact on high-stakes trade talks now underway between the U.S. and China if the extradition were to proceed, Hua replied: “This case is a serious mistake and we urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake.”

“What the U.S. has done, with its egregious nature, severely infringes upon the legal and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. China is firmly opposed to that. We urge the U.S. side to take seriously the solemn position of the Chinese side, take measures to correct its wrongdoings and withdraw its arrest order for the Chinese citizen. China will make further response in view of the actions taken by the U.S.”

To date, China has mainly taken public aim at Canada.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry spokesperson nevertheless continued to blast Canada for arresting Meng.

“Be it Canada or the U.S., they need to grasp the seriousness of the case and take measures to correct their mistakes.”

Hua slammed the “ridiculous logic” of security concerns about Huawei’s technology equipment, and suggested the extradition process is being used as a way to target Huawei.

“The flagrant and unwarranted suppression on Chinese hi-tech companies will be proved to be terribly wrong by history. I believe that fairness and justice will prevail.”

“We keep stressing that security issues need to be backed up by facts. The U.S., Canada and several of their so-called allies have been going all out to create a sense of panic worldwide to the effect that whoever uses China’s hi-tech communications equipment will be spied on by China. But, do they have any evidence?! No. If they can offer no evidence, they’d better halt their ridiculous blabbering which only makes them a laughingstock for all.”

A week after Meng’s arrest was publicly revealed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing summoned the Canadian ambassador first, then the U.S. ambassador to formally raise objections in private.

But no U.S. citizens are known to have been targeted by Chinese state security forces as a result while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s detention of the two Canadian men “unlawful” and “unacceptable” and demanded their release after meeting with Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland last month.

Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former employee of Canada’s embassy in Beijing now working for International Crisis Group, and businessman Michael Spavor are being held in an undisclosed location, in cells where the lights are kept on round the clock, and they are interrogated for four hours a day.

A day after she first questioned the credibility of the more than 140 scholars and diplomats who signed an open letter urging China to release the two Canadian detainees, Hua intensified her criticism of them, according to a Chinese government translation posted on the government’s website.

She accused the letter writers of “deliberately creating a sense of panic” and said they “interfered in China’s judicial sovereignty” by trying to “pile on pressure” on China with the much publicized letter.

“Do they wish to see an open letter undersigned by the 1.4 billion Chinese people addressed to the Canadian leader? I believe that the voice for justice from the Chinese people must be much louder than the sound made by just over 100 people.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc


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Canadian ambassador to brief MPs on rift with China in closed-door meeting – National


Canada’s ambassador to Beijing will brief a select group of MP’s in Ottawa Friday morning on the current rocky relations between Canada and China.

John McCallum is scheduled to appear before an all-party parliamentary committee for one hour to field questions about the situation involving three Canadians in China.

Chinese ambassador threatens ‘repercussions’ on Canada if Huawei 5G banned

But Canadians outside the room won’t hear McCallum speak.

That’s because the foreign affairs committee agreed Thursday to hold the meeting behind closed doors, given the sensitive nature of what he might have to say.

McCallum told reporters late Wednesday that two Canadians detained last month in China are being interrogated by authorities for up to four hours a day.

He also credited the Trudeau government’s efforts to get allies to rally in support of Canada’s position, but said Canada needs to engage the senior Chinese leaders and persuade them that what they are doing is not good for China’s image in the world.

WATCH: Canadian detainees held without access to lawyer, McCallum says

China recently detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and imposed a death sentence on B.C. resident Robert Schellenberg for drug smuggling.

This all happened after Canada arrested a top executive from Chinese tech firm Huawei at the request of U-S authorities.


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China slams Freeland’s ‘arbitrary detention’ comment – National


China is rebuffing the latest broadside from Canada over its detention of Canadian citizens, rejecting the assertion that China’s behaviour poses a threat to all nations.

Instead, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday that people from China could be at risk following Canada’s detention of a Chinese telecom executive for “no reason.”

China criticizes Trudeau’s remarks on death sentence decision, says he should ‘respect rule of law’

The remark was triggered by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s comment Wednesday that “the arbitrary detentions of Canadians … represent a way of behaving which is a threat to all countries.”

Hua said Freeland may have spoken without thinking, and that such remarks won’t help settle the issue.

WATCH: Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling

China detained two Canadians in what Western analysts see as an attempt to pressure Canada to release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the U.S.

The back-and-forth accusations intensified after China sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death earlier this week for alleged drug smuggling.


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