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FUREY: Tiananmen and Hong Kong’s lessons for Canada

Canada needs to stand with the people who want the truth about Tiananmen Square and we need to stand with the people of Hong Kong.

BY: ANTHONY FUREY

It was disheartening but not surprising to hear that former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has been talking up a storm with business and political bigwigs about brokering the release of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to appease the powers that be in Beijing.

Disheartening because dealing with this situation should be about hitting back, not giving in.

“Canada can’t and shouldn’t try to ‘defuse’ this,” Terry Glavin wrote in a wise tweet. “We should hurt Beijing in whatever way we can until Xi backs off.”

Although not surprising because this is the common wisdom among certain circles in the Canadian political and business communities who wish things could go back to how they were beforehand, all in their pursuit of trade deals and the almighty dollar. They know China’s an authoritarian regime, but they want to look the other way from the bad stuff as they strive for access to this growing economy. Chrétien’s long been a part of that machine.

The root of all this flawed thinking stems from the idea that we’re now dealing with some sort of momentary blip in our relationship and we can patch things up and return to normal. That’s not true. What we’ve seen from China recently is their true face – or at least their new face under President Xi Jinping, who seems set to rule for many more years to come.

Regardless of what happens with the Huawei incident, Canada will likely be faced with more such problems in the years ahead that require us to rethink our relationship with the Communist regime.

A decade ago there was the belief among many Western observers that China was making some degree of progress towards becoming a more open, liberal and democratic country. That’s now completely out the window.

You only need to read news stories from the past few days for proof. The 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square saw widespread censorship. Social media was restricted, you couldn’t text message certain numbers and phrases and a popular pop singer has disappeared for fear he’d sing about the anniversary.

Then there are the protests in Hong Kong, where many thousands of people are taking to the streets to oppose an extradition bill that could see those in the autonomous region be shuffled off to China for things deemed to be offences on the mainland.

Canada needs to stand with the people who want the truth about Tiananmen Square and we need to stand with the people of Hong Kong. So far Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s words have been muted and Justin Trudeau has been pretty much silent.

But more than that, we need to wake up to what this means for us – we need to acknowledge what we’re up against – a Communist giant seeking to elbow out the United States as king of the castle and replace them as the world’s dominant superpower. And we need to stand firm against it.

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