Tuesday, May 31, 2016
John Robson: China’s government is not Canada’s friend
KevImages)Much of China's snooping is aimed at gaining industrial or technological advantage
The Chinese government is not Canada’s friend. It is a hostile, aggressive ill-mannered power and should be treated as such, as politely as possible but as firmly as necessary.
A recent report indicated that Ottawa would reject permanent resident applications from a number of employees of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, apparently due to fear they would operate as spies for Beijing. It is impossible to judge the report without additional knowledge of the details, which are not available: Immigration Minister John McCallum professed himself unaware of the matter ; Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale refused to comment on operational questions of national security. But there is no question that China engages in espionage on a massive scale in Canada and elsewhere.
Chinese cyber-espionage is infamous, massive and state-sponsored, including the “61398” military outfit indicted in the U.S. last year. While some Chinese activities are aimed at stealing military secrets or finding infrastructure vulnerabilities to exploit in time of conflict, much of it is used to prop up a faltering, centrally planned system incapable of innovation. And it’s not just cyber-espionage.
The regime sends students and workers abroad to target specific industries, technologies and products and rip them off. And while Huawei is nominally employee-owned, in China everything belongs to the state and is bent to its purposes.
If the report is accurate, it’s commendable that Ottawa seems willing to act in this matter, because we have all become so used to belligerent dishonesty from Beijing that we often treat it as normal. Indeed, the conventional wisdom is that the West must learn to kowtow to the rising power in the East. That is definitely what the Chinese politburo and increasingly assertive Xi Jinping — China’s president and maximum leader — are trying to make us do.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickThe Naive Justin Trudeau meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey on Nov. 16, 2015.
This is a matter where Foreign Minister Stephane Dion’s policy of “responsible conviction” must place its emphasis on “conviction.” China’s belligerent disregard of international law extends into environmental matters of profound concern to Canadians, from illegal overfishing that is devastating ocean ecosystems off Africa to illegal trade in ivory, rhino horns and other products from endangered species.
The Chinese government maintains sufficient distance from most of this nefarious conduct to claim to be uninvolved and unaware. But it’s a flimsy pretence. And indeed, the point is not to deceive but to humiliate —to make us complicit in the deception, to mouth lies knowing they are lies, to play along with the dishonesty.
Sometimes the veil is forced aside, as with Beijing’s clumsily aggressive efforts to claim much of the South China Sea for itself by sending its expanding navy as well as fishing boats into contested waters and daring anyone to object, even when military or “civilian” vessels intentionally come into excessively close contact with Western military ships and planes.
Well, we should object. Why should Russia or Syria be sanctioned, and China be appeased, feted and even, as the Ontario government did with Huawei, given subsidies to extend its tentacles further into our economy?
We know it. And they know we know it. So if we pretend otherwise, to “facilitate business” or “to get along,” that is, from greed or fear, they have induced us to become complicit in our own defeat and degradation. It won’t make us rich, it won’t make us safe, and it’s disgraceful.
The federal government should stick to its stand on spies, and take a firmer position on much else besides with this aggressive, duplicitous regime.