Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Reassessment of Canada’s Interests in China and Options for Renewal of Canada’s China Policy

A Reassessment of Canada’s Interests in China and Options for Renewal of Canada’s China Policy

Charles Burton

Executive Summary

* Because Canada is continuing to lose market share in China, the Government of Canada should clearly articulate its strategy for improving and promoting access to the Chinese market for Canadian business. This strategy should be focused on the distinctive characteristics of the Chinese market and business culture, and Canada’s comparative advantage in that market vis-à-vis our competitors. Trade officials should be deployed with much better pro-active coordination between the Federal Trade Commissioners Service, provincial government trade promotions agencies, the Export Development Corporation and the Canada-China Business Council.
* The Government of Canada should phase out the CIDA program in China. Instead, Canada should engage in good governance, democratic development and human rights programming in China through the arms-length Canada Foundation for Democracy proposed by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Stakeholder groups in Canada based on ethnic ties to China or with mandates to promote human rights in China should be better deployed to collaborate with Government to achieve the aims of the Canada Foundation for Democracy in its China programming. In addition, the Canadian Government and private sector should jointly engage in environmental sustainability programming though the Trade Section of the Canadian Embassy to China.
* The Government should reform its human resources procedures to ensure assignment of personnel with the requisite qualifications to undertake China-related positions. The effectiveness of the divisions of DFAIT, CSIS and DND responsible for Canada’s relations with China is severely inhibited due to allocation of personnel without China-specific expertise to positions that demand this expertise. This demands requiring that civil servants assigned to certain China-related positions demonstrate appropriate Chinese language skills as measured by standardized Chinese language testing as a prerequisite to deployment. Personnel who have acquired Chinaspecific expertise should be significantly rewarded through an incentives scheme designed to encourage Canadian civil servants to undertake careers with a sustained China focus.
* The Government of Canada should diversify its engagement of China. Canada should be directly engaging policymakers in the Chinese Government and Communist Party whose decisions have implications for Canada’s interests in China on an ongoing basis. The current focus on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation offices of Chinese line ministries should be expanded to a more comprehensive engagement of policymaking and decision making agencies in the Chinese system.
* Reporting on China by DFAIT and the Intelligence Assessment Staff of the Privy Council Office as well as the Communications Security Establishment Canada and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service should be refocused away from general assessments of Chinese affairs and should instead focus reporting on practical matters directly related to Canada’s interests. The relevance to Canada and quality of these reports should be subject to periodic external review to ensure that they are fulfilling the strategic mandate of these agencies.
* The Government of Canada should pursue engagement of Chinese ministries on an ongoing basis at Director-General to Director-General and Assistant Deputy Minister to Assistant Deputy Minister level. “Strategic Partnership” at the Deputy-Minister level is not feasible due to economic asymmetry between Canada and China. Due to power asymmetry between Canada and China, high-level Canadian Government engagement of the Government of China on political and social issues through “quiet diplomacy” such as the Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue has not proven effective. While it is certainly in the Canadian interest to raise human rights concerns in all Canadian Government interactions with Chinese leaders, more focused and targeted programming to encourage enhanced Chinese compliance with its commitments to the UN Human Rights Covenants should replace the previous moribund Human Rights Dialogue approach.
* The Government of Canada should strengthen the China-specific expertise of CSIS counter-espionage officers. Canada should also be more proactive in responding to Canadians of Chinese origin, and to Chinese nationals A Reassessment of Canada’s Interests in China and Options for Renewal of Canada’s China Policy temporarily resident in Canada, including ethnic Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians who complain of harassment and intimidation by Chinese security agents and Chinese diplomats in Canada.
* The Government of Canada should solicit Tibetan, Uyghur and Mongolian diaspora communities’ views, as well the views of their co-nationals still living in China, on the design and implications of Canadian Government supported programming in their native lands. This consultation will better ensure that the Government is fully attuned to ethnic sensitivities in its China-focused programming. Such consultation would not imply that the Government of Canada endorses Tibetan, Uyghur and Mongolian independentist claims to rightful sovereignty over these territories, nor that the Canadian Government intends to challenge the legitimacy of Chinese rule in these areas.
* The proportion of Chinese citizens working as support staff in the Consular sections of the Canadian Embassy and Consulates in China should be reduced. There should be corresponding augmentation of numbers of Canadabased staff with Chinese language skills and knowledge of Chinese police, prison, security agencies and the related Chinese Communist Party institutions.

No comments: