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Tuesday, January 08, 2008 

Harper's Hard Line With China Is Costing Canada Millions

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to rethink a confrontational approach to relations with China. [...] China's human rights record should not be ignored, but neither should its value as a trading partner. These days, quiet diplomacy on the former and active engagement on the latter would be the preferred strategy."
Harper hits Chinese Wall
The Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, November 16, 2006

Since the day he took office, Prime Minister Stephan Harper has publically taken a very hard line with China on a number of issues. Harper was warned to be cautious on how he deals with the People' Republic of China lest it hurts trade with that nation.

Harper and his Conservatives did not listen. He allowed hard line right wingers like Jason Kenney to be openly critical of China and the chickens have come home to roost.

"In 2006, over 28.8 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad and figures are expected to be 17% higher for 2007. Only 139,000 visited Canada, though, as Chinese can only get business, student and family visas for travel here. There are 134 countries on the ADS list for Chinese tourists. Mr. Emerson would not discuss why Canada is not on it, although Beijing has complained in the past about Ottawa's criticism of China's human rights violations."
Globe & Mail

-China Snubs Harper
-British MP Slams Harper's Foreign Policy
-Harper's Foreign Policy Falls Short
-Harper Hits Chinese Wall

Mike Harris did a similar thing to Ontario before he left office.

He and his successor left the landscape so wrecked, it's taking the province a long time to recover.

Harper is doing the same thing. That means that the next PM will have a real uphill battle on his hands just trying to undo all the damage and wreckage caused by the Conservatives. The slowness of restoration then will become platform material for the Conservatives for the ensuing election.

We shouldn't blame the Conservatives so much as those who voted for these successful candidates at the riding-level elections.

You put money over human rights?

David. To the Chinese, each citizen is entitled to the human right of a job. That is a human right that does not exist in Canada. To the Chinese, Canada has a poor human rights record because we do not respect the human need for employment. To them, our human rights record is not stellar.

It is all a matter of how you look at it.

I've got to agree with David on this one. The Chinese "communist" party is brutal regime thats neoliberal reforms have caused the deaths of tens of thousands (if not more) peasants. They don't care about workers at all. The transition to capitalism has been brutal, and nearly unreported. I don't know what Harper's reasons are (probably not good ones), but doing business with China, like the vast amount the US does, only heightens the power of the corrupt Chinese "communist" party.

that said, Harper still is a moron.

Hmmm, I think we need to look at this from a different perspective.

For me, Harper is just blowing hot air. He wouldn't dare challenge China, for the simple fact that he himself if beholden to corporate power that needs China to make their cheap, low quality goods for the North American market. This just makes him sound like a human rights hero, while there is absolutely no chance of him actually acting on that.

"To the Chinese, Canada has a poor human rights record because we do not respect the human need for employment. To them, our human rights record is not stellar."

I understand that international neoliberalism is creating jobs in China, and that in some cases it is raising the standard of living. But there are a few factors to consider in trading with China.

1) Is it moral to purchase goods that are produced under conditions that we would never stand for in our own society? Isn't that hypocritical? It's another form of imperialism, to have people essentially enslaved to create items for the privileged country's market. China is essentially a Fascist country, which uses their own people for the wealth of a select few bureaucrats, and the state itself.

2) Every Chinese garment, toy, and now automobile produced for our market is one less product that can be produced in our own country. How many items are built in Canada anymore, and the only jobs being created in Canada are either retail /service or the oilsands, when we could be producing our own goods, with decent paying jobs and controlling the labour standards of production. It's great that jobs are created there, but the people who make the goods can't even really afford most of them. Karl Marx would call that alienation.

3) China has few environmental protections. When good are created there, it has a much higher environmental impact than here. Plus, shipping goods across the world creates ridiculous amounts of pollution and C02 emissions. One may argue that our emissions would rise if we produced goods, but the emissions are higher to import from China anyway.

Anyway, Harper isn't actually doing anything, so you're right to criticize. However, international trade doesn't appear to have the benefits that our corporate oligarchs keep telling us.

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