Tuesday, December 5, 2017

BONOKOSKI: Trudeau’s trade deal with China turns into an embarrassment

BONOKOSKI: Trudeau’s trade deal with China turns into an embarrassment

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The prime minister met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing Monday but the two did not announce the start of formal free trade talks. Justin Trudeau says Canada is looking for “progressive” trade deals.
The big buildup, the anticipation and then … nothing.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have stayed in bed, colloquially speaking, and spared taxpayers the expense of yet another high-end jaunt to Beijing with a cadre of cabinet ministers and bureaucrats.
Or are we to believe Trudeau was tricked by China and led to assume before boarding his flight that great inroads would be made into a bilateral free trade agreement between his democracy and its dictatorship?
He sure made it appear that way, having suddenly inserted China into his schedule as if Canada was about to make history as the first G7 country to strike a two-way deal with the Red Dragon.
In the end, however, he got bitten instead.
And his disappointment showed.
Sixteen hours in the air — one way — and nothing as payoff other than jet lag and a fancy hotel room stay.
Following Monday’s meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the Great Hall of the People overlooking Tiananmen Square, it was obvious the two leaders had not agreed on much during their extended private meeting.
Trudeau said the talks were “frank.”
Li said the talks were “candid.”
This, of course, is code-speak for “we banged heads.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, walks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a welcome ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (Ng Han Guan/AP)
Almost immediately, the scheduled press conference with Li and Trudeau was abruptly called off, with the prime minister’s office insisting it was the Chinese who put the kibosh on it, not their contingent.
So much for great expectations.
Trudeau didn’t stand a hope, of course, if he thought China would buy into his progressive inclinations when it comes to free trade.
Human rights? Labour standards? Gender equality?
These are as foreign to fascist China as foreign can be.
It is a communist dictatorship, after all, and just because Red China has been dropped as a descriptor over the years for the sake of diplomacy doesn’t change the fact that China is as communist now as it was under Mao.
China cares nothing about free enterprise and private ownership because it cares everything about state enterprise and state ownership.
It is a country that relies on cheap labour to produce nasty plastic baubles and goods for a western market — check out where your artificial Christmas tree and national flags were manufactured – and once enforced a one-child policy that began in 1979 and was not phased out until 2015 out of fears of an unaffordable over-population should too many girls be born.
This is the real China, a one-party state with a one-party mindset.
As Li put it, “Both sides share the view that, due to national circumstances, it’s only natural that we don’t see eye-to-eye on some issues.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in an event at Sina Weibo Headquarters in Beijing, China on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, to promote Canada-China tourism.
It was a brilliantly-put understatement, and worth a bonus being paid to the translator for couching it so deftly.
So, what has come out of Trudeau’s trip thus far? Not much.
The two countries agreed to promote greater tourism, and work together on climate change, all predictable but hardly what prompted for Trudeau to fly 10,500 klicks to Beijing for a four-day Chinese layover.
Was he played? Did the Chinese set him up for embarrassment?
It is almost impossible to believe that Trudeau would travel such great distance, with the parliamentary press gallery in steerage, without being assured that free-trade negotiations with China would officially be launched.
So, someone must have set him up — whether one of his own people or someone within the Chinese bureaucracy.
There is no other conclusion to be drawn considering the non-outcome of the trip, other than to say Trudeau is that dumb.
It’s a wonder he didn’t cry.

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