Stephen Harper’sgovernment changes its tune
Stephen Harper 政府态度转变
Jul 30th 2011 |OTTAWA | fromthe print edition
JOHNBAIRD, Canada’s foreign minister, insists there wasno hidden political hand behind his government’s deportation on July 23rd ofLai Changxing to Beijing, where he was promptly arrested on charges relating toa multi-billion dollar smuggling ring which acted there with apparent officialconnivance in the 1990s. The Chinese authorities have been pressing Canada tohand over Mr Lai since 1999. The decision to do so, says Mr Baird, was takenfreely by an independent judiciary “and we wouldn’t and couldn’t intervene.”
加拿大外交部长John Baird，坚持认为加拿大政府对赖昌星的遣返背后没有政治操控。作为发生在九十年代的这场显然得到官方默许的数十亿美金走私大案的参与者，赖昌星7月23号一到北京就立即被捕。中国当局从1999年开始就开始为赖昌星遣返而向加拿大施压。遣返的决定，Baird 先生说，是由法官独立作出的，“我们不想也不能干预。”
On theface of things, that is true. The federal court order of July 21st capped along legal battle between Mr Lai and the immigration authorities that began inJune 2000, when Canada decided he was not a legitimate refugee and issued adeportation order. His deportation came only after he exhausted every avenue ofappeal, of which there were many.
But digdeeper and the hidden hand appears. Both the immigration official who lastreviewed the case and the judge based their decisions on assurances sought andreceived by the government that Mr Lai would not be tortured, subjected tocruel and unusual punishment or killed if he were sent back.
GivingChina the benefit of the doubt on human rights is a relative novelty forStephen Harper’s Conservative government. Shortly after he won office in 2006,Mr Harper pledged that Canada “would not sell out” in talking about humanrights with China. His first foreign minister accused China of industrialespionage. When Mr Harper visited China in 2009, his hosts chided him forwaiting almost four years before coming.
在人权问题上对中国让步的做法对于Stephen Harper 保守派政府来说还是很新鲜。在2006年上台之后不久， Harper就承诺加拿大对中国的人权问题“不会妥协”。他的第一任外交大臣曾指责中国的商业间谍。当Harper2009年访问中国的时候，接待方曾责备他等了四年才来。
Thatvisit marked the start of a courtship. China is a friend and “important ally”,Mr Baird said when he visited the country this month. Though he stressed thathe could not interfere in Mr Lai’s case, he added that “the Canadian people andthe Chinese people don’t have a lot of time for white-collar fraudsters.”
Thischange of tune owes much to Canada’s search for new export markets tocompensate for the stagnation of its main economic partner, the United States.China’s share of Canadian exports has almost doubled in the past five years(though it still amounts to only 3.3% of the total). China has become animportant market for Canadian fuels and softwood lumber. Investment by Chinesestate companies, once reviled, is now welcomed. This month a Chinese oilcompany bought OPTI Canada, an ailing tar-sands producer, for C$2.1 billion($2.2 billion).
Likeothers, Canada also sees ties with China as a potential source of leverage withthe United States. “There is a real sense in Canada now that the Americans takeus for granted and that Canada has to strengthen relations with China in orderto get more respect in the US,” says David Emerson, a former foreign ministerwho is now a consultant. Delays by the American StateDepartment in granting approval for a cross-border pipeline to carry crudefrom the tar sands to the Gulf Coast have prompted calls for apipeline from Alberta to the west coast, for shipment to China.
MrBaird says the push for business does not mean Canada has abandoned its concernabout China’s record on human rights. But when provincial leaders join thefederal government for a trade mission to China next year, the topic isunlikely to feature on the agenda. Judging from the rapturous official responsein China to the deportation of Mr Lai, the mission is likely to get a warm welcome.