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Remarks by Ambassador Lu Shaye at the Seminar on China-Canada Relations
2019/05/24

(May 23, The Globe and Mail Centre, Toronto)

Honorable Mr. Jean Chrétien,

Mr. David Mulroney,

Mr. Darryl White, CEO of BMO Financial Group,

Mr. Phillip Crawley, Publisher & CEO of The Globe and Mail,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

To begin with, I would like to show my sincere respect to Mr. Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada. When you served as the Prime Minister of Canada, you were positively contributing to promoting China-Canada relations which enjoyed a “golden decade” back then. The Chinese people always values friendship and we have all along remembered you as our old friend.

For clear reasons, the current China-Canada relations are facing serious difficulties and are situated at the rock bottom since the two countries have established diplomatic relations. I have noticed that all sectors in Canada have paid high attention to it and they have different opinions. The media including The Globe and Mail have many reports and comments on this matter, including some criticisms against and blames on China as well as some rational thoughts.

What’s the matter with China-Canada relations? Why would the relations come across the current obstacles? What are our future ways out? Under such backgrounds, I believe this seminar is a very timely one, which provides us with an excellent communication platform. I would like to show my gratitude to The Globe and Mail and the Bank of Montreal for organizing this event.

At the very beginning, the theme of today’s seminar is Rules of Engagement—Reframing Sino-Canadian Relations. Analyzed from the etymology, the word “engagement” has very nuanced implications, including the meaning of “establishing a clear relationship with commitment as the constraint”. This is one of the diplomatic terms in the U.S. policies towards China.

Over the decades, Western countries represented by the U.S. have pursued the policy of “engagement + containment”, which is to use two methods, the gentle one and the harsh one, to guide and constrain China onto the track set by the West, which is to implement the Western liberal democracy politically and follow the free market mode economically. The “engagement” is the gentle method while the “containment” is the harsh one.

However, China has not developed in the directions designed by the U.S. led-Western countries eventually. Instead, China is making great strides along the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics which corresponds with its domestic conditions.

This has greatly disappointed Western countries and also made them reflect. However, the result of the reflection is that, a sizeable proportion of people in the strategic community of Western countries, especially in the U.S., believe the “engagement strategy” on China has failed. This considerably leads to the policy transformation of the Trump administration of the U.S. to regard China as its strategic competitor.

Why would the “engagement strategy” have failed?This involves some important questions:

Firstly, how should the West think of China?

To be honest, Western countries have always regarded China as an abnormal country rather than a normal one with equal status as themselves. They, bearing the “mercy” in mind, condescend to China and want to save China from the dominance of “autocracy” and “dictatorship” with their “universal values”, which results in the “engagement strategy”. They hope to forge China with the “strategy” into what they want it to be.

However, China, as a 5000 year old Eastern civilization, has a much longer history than all the existing Western countries. Therefore, it is an “impossible mission” to transform such a country into a Western-like one.

After the First Opium War in 1840, China had been trying many ways to realize modernization, including saving the nation by engaging in industry, constitutional monarchy, and republican democracy, which all failed eventually. Impoverished and enfeebled, China was oppressed by great powers externally and trapped in tangled warfare of warlords internally. Suffering misery and despair, the people found it hard to live. At the Paris Peace Conference held in 1919, China, a victorious nation, could not reclaim its land occupied by Germany, a defeated nation, which completely smashed the fantasy of Chinese people on Western democratic countries and there broke out the famous “May Fourth Movement”.

This movement introduced Marxism into China and gave birth to the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC, based on the social reality of China, responds to the appeals from the people. After 28 years of extremely hard and bitter struggle, the CPC overthrew “three heavy mountains” of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism oppressing the Chinese people and founded the New China as well as established the socialist system, which brought about a leap forward whereby the Chinese nation reversed its decline and set out towards prosperity and strength. Therefore, the leadership of the CPC and the path of socialism are the choice of the Chinese people and an inexorable historical trend.

However, just because of the CPC’s leadership and the socialist system, Western countries allege China as an “autocracy” with “no freedom” and “violating human rights”, regardless of the fact that China has realized its modernization and become the second largest economy in the world in only a few decades while it took its Western counterparts several hundred years to achieve the same, that China has lifted several hundred millions of people out of poverty, contributing 70 percent to the poverty alleviation worldwide, that there are 160 million Chinese traveling every year overseas freely without detaining in Western countries as refugees, and that five major world religions legally exist in China with 200 million disciples, about 5,500 religious organizations, and 144 thousand places of worship. Is there in the world an autocracy so benevolent and benign as that?

In March this year, the UN has released the World Happiness Report 2019, which comprehensively analyzes and ranks the happiness index of countries in the world. Although released by the UN, the report was actually a compilation of surveys in 140 countries and regions by some experts at Gallup, a well-known Western polling company.

According to the report, in 2018, Libya ranked the 70th while China ranked the 86th. This year, Libya ranks the 72nd while China slides 10 places to the 96th. This ranking is very sarcastic, as it indicates that Western experts believe that the current happiness index of the Chinese people is even lower than that of the Libyan people whose country is torn by war and ravaged in terrorist attacks. There must be something wrong.

At present, Western media and politicians are very keen on playing up and defaming the vocational education and training centers established in Xinjiang by the Chinese government in accordance with the law. The aim of China establishing the centers is to eradicate extremism and take strict precautions against the spreading of violent terrorism thought, and we can see similar actions in some Western countries as well.

However, this preventive anti-terrorism move and innovative implementation of the deradicalization has been distorted by some Westerners as the means of infringing the rights and interests of the ethnic minority groups and curtailing their freedom of faith and religions. These Westerners only pay their attention to the human rights of several “defenders of human rights” who have violated the Chinese laws and turned a blind eye to the human rights of the victims in violent and terrorist attacks and the human rights of more than 1.3 billion people in China as well as 24 million people in Xinjiang.

Actually, in more than ten years before the centers were established, there were thousands of violent and terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, which had led to the death and injury of tens of thousands of innocent people. These terrorists are sanguinary in means and their heinous attacks are worse than the attacks happened in New Zealand and Sri Lanka recently and in Toronto a year ago.

China’s establishment of these centers is meant to help these people who have been “brainwashed” by the extremist thoughts of violence and terrorism to get rid of those thoughts and learn work and living skills, which gets instant results. The social security in Xinjiang has been remarkably improved. In the recent two years or so, there has not been a single violent and terrorist attack and no more innocent people have been harmed. I wonder, from the perspective of the Chinese people and people in Xinjiang, is this good or bad?

The two examples I mentioned above are to remind certain Westerners that they should observe China not only from the perspective of Western countries but also from that of China. Moreover, they cannot hold the view of “either this or that” or “black or white” and should not believe that everything that is different from those in Western countries is wrong and evil, or the same thing as what the West does will be wrong and evil, if it is done by China. Only in this way can they understand China in an objective and comprehensive manner and change the misunderstandings about and prejudices against China fundamentally.

Secondly, how should the West view China’s development?

In the West, currently, several kinds of allegations against China’s development prevail, for instance “China economic threat theory” and “China technology theft theory”.

Is China’s development a threat? I want to tell you that the Chinese nation does not have the gene of aggression. We have never launched a war of aggression against any other country and we have never occupied one inch of overseas colony in history. The world-famous Great Wall is an example. It was in the aim to fend off the invasion of the nomadic tribes in the north that China built the Great Wall. In the Ming Dynasty (early 1500 A.D.), a Chinese great navigator Zheng He embarked on the voyages to the West Oceans for seven times, bringing tea leaves, silk and porcelain as trading goods, instead of war, slaughter and occupation to the countries he visited.

For another example, the South China Sea islands have all along been the inherent territory of China. After the World War II, the then China’s national government recaptured these islands from Japanese aggressors with the assistance of the U.S. warships. In order to specify the sovereignty, rights and interests, the national government designated the nine-dash line in 1947. Before 1970s, no country has objected to the nine-dash line in the South China Sea or claimed for sovereignty over the South China Sea islands. After 1970s, however, with the discovery of massive oil gas in the South China Sea, some littoral countries, out of their own benefits, began to invade and illegally occupy some South China Sea islands, which was the root cause for the South China Sea Issue.

With its national strength, China nowadays can absolutely recover the occupied islands. However, without resorting to such a step, China sticks to resolving disputes through dialogues and negotiations with the countries directly concerned, which shows that China has not threatened and will never threaten other countries.

Instead of a threat, China’s development is nothing less than a great contribution to the world. For several decades, China’s economy has developed rapidly, becoming an engine of the global economic growth. China’s contribution to global economic growth has stayed at about 30 percent for several years, far exceeding those combined of developed countries in Europe and America.

The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China provides growth drivers for Inner Eurasia which was isolated from the rest of the world in the past, for developing countries which were short of infrastructure for economic development in the past, and for European countries with sluggish economic growth. The initiative has made the markets of various countries interconnected, provided developing countries with ways of poverty alleviation and provided impetus for economic growth for the world.

China’s economic development and progress in science and technologies are not the pennies from the heaven, let alone the ripoff from other countries. These achievements are made by all the Chinese people with their hard work and unremitting efforts. The American accusations on China’s forced transfer of technology, violating the intellectual property and unfair competition of State-owned enterprises are based on lies and bias. They conveniently lose sight of their own breach of trust and fairness and commercial bullying vis-a-vis China. If an aircraft carrier could be launched by stealing; if a space probe could land on the surface of the moon by unfair competiton; and if the 5G Technology could become world-leading by violating intellectual property, then all countries would be developed countries like the U.S..

Western countries’ psychological imbalance towards China’s economic and technological development comes down to the West-egotism. They always believe that they are superior to any other nations. In the past centuries, the West did make great contributions to progress of human civilization. But China had previously won an important position in the history of world civilization long before.

For this reason, the West cannot narrowly believe that they will take the lead forever while ignoring other nations’ rights to subsistence and development and even depriving them of it through improper means. After the Cold War, the West took the “end of history” theory as a creed and arrogantly believed that the Western system reached the peak of perfection and it was the best system in the world. Therefore, they launched wars against “non-Western countries”, one after another, which not only destroyed the world peace and stability but also consumed their own resources and energy.

Some levelheaded and insightful statesmen take a clear view on this. After making a phone call to President Donald Trump in April this year, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said to the public that China has never been at war with anybody since its establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S. in 1979. China has always focused on its domestic development but the U.S. has always stayed at war. The U.S. has only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history.

In his new book “Has the West lost it?”, former Singaporean diplomat and scholar Kishore Mahbubani proposes the “3M” strategy for the West: first M is “Minimalist”, which means fewer wars and less intervention in domestic affairs of other countries; second M is “Multilateral”, which means to be open to the opinions of “non-Western countries”; and last one is “Machiavellian”, which means to maintain long-term interests by using strategic wisdom. This strategy deserves Western countries’ serious consideration.

Thirdly, how should the West engage with China?

Chinese people are in the best position to judge China’s development. We are confident about our own path, theory, system and culture. We will never change our own development path because of the different viewpoints of Western countries and several discredited articles in the West. We will stick to the path that we choose. For Western countries, the problem is how to get along with China. I would like to give “3R” suggestions:

The first is Respect. The disrespect of China’s culture and the differences in national conditions is the root cause for the failure of “engagement strategy” of the West. In order to achieve more effective “engagement”, Western countries must respect and treat China as equal politically. Both the Chinese side and the Western side should respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and they shall never interfere in the internal affairs of each other.

In 2014, for example, the protest of “Occupying Central with Love and Peace” (OCLP) broke out in Hong Kong, and lasted for 79 days, leading to social disorder and damages in all sectors and severely affecting citizens’ life. In the end, the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) took measures in accordance with laws.

However, these illegal activities were supported and glorified by Western countries, including the United Kingdom (U.K.). They made indiscreet remarks and criticisms on the measures taken by the Hong Kong SAR government.

Recently, some environmentalists in London have brought parts of central London to a standstill, but it was clamped down on by the government with iron grip in less than eight days, and the protesters were called rabbles and mobs. Over 1,000 protesters were arrested and more than 40 of them were prosecuted. Former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of the Hong Kong SAR observed, “The U.K. police did not stand for 79 days, not even 7.9 days.” How ironic!

The second is Reciprocity. We should carry out cooperation in economy and trade in the spirit of mutual benefit and win-win results, instead of solely taking into account the benefits of one single side. In the early days of reform and opening-up, China provided super-national treatment for foreign-invested companies. While Chinese companies had to pay enormous fees for land use, foreign-invested companies were exempted from paying these fees. While Chinese companies had to pay heavy business tax, their foreign counterparts were exempted from paying the business tax for the first two years and were allowed to pay halved business tax for the next three years.

In 2001, China cancelled the super-national treatment for foreign-invested companies upon its accession to World Trade Organization, meaning that all companies, foreign-invested or not, shall pay tax and fees on the equal-footed base. It is a common practice in the world, yet some Western countries began to complain that China’s investment environment worsened and they had difficulties in market access. They forgot that they had made a bundle when enjoying the super-national treatment. Today, they blame on China for cancelling the super-national treatment, saying that the Chinese side gains extra advantages by unfair means.

This is like a 4x100 meters relay. The West should not attribute their decline of competitiveness to their rivals, but should run faster, instead of obstructing the rivals. They also cannot require for a rematch because they drop the stick. The West cannot require changing the rules when they are caught up with or even surpassed by those who abide by international trade rules.

The formulation and change of rules cannot only go to the West’s advantage. Is it fair that developed countries just simply demand developing countries open their markets wider while ignoring developing countries’ appeals for relaxing the export control of technologies and lowering the patent barriers?

The third is Regulation. We should manage divergences and sensitive issues, rather than sharpening contradictions. It is natural for the Chinese side and the Western side to have some divergences on certain issues, just as Mencius, the great philosopher in ancient China, said, “Things are born to be different.” The key is to place these divergences in a proper position and properly handle them so that they will not affect the general situation of bilateral relations.

As for some issues arising from the differences in ideologies and values of both sides, it is pointless for both sides to argue on and on, which will not only destroy the harmony but also end up with nothing. As a Chinese saying goes, “The wise expand common ground while the unwise aggravate differences”. Then why don’t we seek common ground while shelving differences, control divergences, expand cooperation, and focus on common interests?

Ladies and gentlemen,

China and Canada are two countries of different ideology and political system. Nevertheless, in the 1970s, the elder generations of politicians of both countries forged diplomatic relations with remarkable political courage and insight despite all the obstacles. Since Canada is one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with New China, China has all along valued bilateral relations. Thanks to the strong economic complementarity, the two countries are natural cooperative partners. Moreover, both countries support multilateralism and free trade and share similar views on many international and regional issues.

It saddens us that the current China-Canada relations are “at a freezing point” and face huge difficulties. The knots shall be untied by those who got them tied. We strongly call upon the Canadian side to view China’s development in a fair and objective manner, respect China’s major concerns and stop the moves that undermine the interests of China. We hope the Canadian side will particularly view bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective rather than treating bilateral relations as an expedient solution to its current difficulties. Only in this way can the bilateral relations steer clear of disturbance and bumpiness and enjoy stable and long-term development.

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