Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stephen Harper Can No Longer Preach Human Rights to China

Given recent allegation of complicity in war crimes, and our government's horrendous campaign to cover up what they knew, Stephen Harper can no longer attack China on human rights.

He was not greeted with a warm reception when he arrived in that country and despite the air brushed photo-ops, there was a clear message here. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

PM scolded for delayed China visit
By Bill Schiller Asia Bureau
December 3, 2009

BEIJING–With words at once blunt and pointed, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday, admonishing him for not visiting China earlier during his time as Canadian leader.

Harper sat stone-faced during the rebuke – the words clearly stung.

They came at the beginning of a late afternoon meeting, just before Canadian and international media were ushered out of the room in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

"This is your first visit to China and this is the first meeting between the Chinese Premier and the Canadian Prime Minister in almost five years," Wen told Harper inside the Great Hall.

"Five years is too long a time," Wen scolded, adding that it was understandable that there had been "comments in the media that your visit is one that should have taken place earlier."

The rebuke – rare in relations between two nations – came just a day after the Chinese media had given Harper a cool-to-cold reception, criticizing him on a wide range of issues.

Later during a press conference Harper attempted to dismiss the scolding from the Chinese Premier – and actually spin it into a point of agreement. "My view is the same," he said. "I would like to see Chinese come to Canada more frequently."

But the words rang hollow.

It was, after all, Harper who chose to chill the relationship, with his aides, in the early going of his tenure as Prime Minister, suggesting that he had a very busy schedule that left little time for visiting the Chinese.

Members of his cabinet, China watchers know, had more than once portrayed China as a Godless, totalitarian state with nuclear weapons pointed towards North America.

Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae told the Star in a telephone interview from Ottawa Thursday that the rebuke was clearly "deliberate" and meant to convey China's feelings of being "deeply insulted" by Harper's "disdain."

He called Harper's handling of the Canada-China file, "a colossal mistake," adding that he hopes the Prime Minister learns some "humility" from the encounter.

"You simply cannot ignore the fastest growing economy in the world – and one of the most important societies in the world," Rae said.

Premier Wen is known as a strong and capable leader – China's number two – and is by far China's most-loved politician.

When he speaks, he frequently expresses the feelings of the Chinese people.

It was the first time that Wen had met Harper.

Wen said he hoped Harper's visit would "turn a new page," in the bi-lateral relationship.

Only a day earlier Chinese English media had openly criticized Harper on his first day in China, saying that China-Canadian relations had deteriorated on his watch, after having enjoyed sure and steady growth under Liberal governments.

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