Western Standard

Canada must step up as Hong Kong faces Communist takeover

Hong Kong is succumbing to the power and authority of the Communist Party of China. 

The CCP has passed a national security law that would ban “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” and would allow for mainland Chinese law enforcement agencies to enforce those laws in Hong Kong. This clearly violates the “one country, two systems” agreement that isn’t set to expire until 2047. In response, Hong Kongers did as Hong Kongers do, and protested by the thousands. Unfortunately, their efforts did not dissuade the totalitarian communist party, and it is likely that this could be the end of a free Hong Kong.

As a bastion of liberal democracy, it is important that Canada takes a stand against China’s encroachment and clear unwillingness to meet its international obligations. The big question remains, what exactly can Canada do? We don’t have the hard power to challenge China, but we may have some soft power plays that could clearly show Hong Kongers, and the world, that Canada remains steadfast in its defense of liberal values.

Some will suggest that Canada needs to engage in a trade war with China to push back against their violations in Hong Kong. While the response of sanctions and tariffs might hit an emotional chord, it would be terrible public policy. A trade war with China is something that neither side can “win” because trade is not a zero-sum game. Additional tariffs on Chinese goods would simply inflate prices for Canadian consumers, and punish ordinary Chinese people for the cruelty of their unelected authoritarian government. Being forced to live under CCP rule is punishment enough, we don’t need to make matters worse by shutting Chinese goods out of the global market. Any sanctions, or prohibitions, should be limited to high tech products with national security concerns, like Huawei’s inclusion in our 5G network.

Outside of avoiding a trade war – which would be more symbolism than serious public policy – Canada should immediately make an asylum declaration for those Hong Kongers wishing to flee the tightening grip of the CCP, similar to what the U.K. has done. Canada should welcome Hong Kongers who want to claim refugee status, and in fact, should encourage them to leave, bringing their capital (human and material) with them. A move like this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, either. Throughout the ‘80s and ’90s, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers migrated to Canada, largely in fear of the incoming handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese Government in 1997. Those migrants brought $4.2 billion with them to Canada to start their new lives as Canadians. Hong Kongers should be able to flee their homeland before military tanks roll in to enforce totalitarian laws, and Canada should offer refuge.

Beyond what Canada can directly do for the people of Hong Kong, there are some foreign policy changes that could help further demonstrate Canada’s commitment to liberal values, and to help avoid future events like Hong Kong from happening. 

First, Canada should change how we officially treat Taiwan, for the purpose of ensuring that Hong Kong doesn’t become a blueprint for what the CCP can get away with.

Unfortunately, Canada does not officially recognize Taiwan because we still acknowledge the One China Policy. Canada should immediately disregard the One China Policy, establish official diplomatic relations with Taiwan as a sovereign state, and establish a formal embassy in Taipei. Doing this would show the world that Canada is in fact a world leader when it comes to our democratic values and that we are willing to make a bold stance where others aren’t. On top of that, such a move could encourage other O.E.C.D. countries to do the same. A strong, internationally connected and recognized Taiwan is the only way we can ensure that Taiwan and the Taiwanese people do not ultimately fall to the CCP 

With Taiwan identified and recognized, Canada should loudly recommit itself to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, add Taiwan to the agreement, and seek to bring our American allies back to the table. While not a perfect trade agreement, from the lens of a free trader, an adopted TPP with US support would significantly empower other countries in the region and would limit our reliance on China, which certainly seems to be in line with the goals of U.S. President Donald Trump. A renewed TPP, signed in Taipei, would demonstrate to the CCP that the west isn’t going to stand idle and let the CCP run roughshod over the region.

Hong Kong, as a beacon of freedom, may be thrown into the dustbin of history well before 2047. The CCP’s recent maneuvering in Hong Kong, along with the bookseller kidnapping scandal, and attempted extradition bill, shows their willingness to destroy almost everything Hong Kong has stood for. Providing refuge for those who want to flee, recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign state, and recommitting to international trade, would be the appropriate Canadian response.

Originally published here.

ESCLUSIVO TPI – “Io, Miss Canada scappata dalla Cina vi mostro le atrocità del regime di Pechino”

La storia dell’attrice nata in Cina, emigrata in America ed eletta Miss Canada. “Mio padre minacciato costantemente dal Regime per il mio attivismo”

Anastasia Lin attivista contro la Cina: “Vi apro gli occhi sul regime”

Anastasia Lin ha gli occhi pieni di energia, amarezza e forza allo stesso tempo. La sua storia è comune a migliaia di persone, nata e cresciuta in Cina, all’età di 14 anni riesce ad emigrare in America, si trasferisce in Canada dove comincia una nuova vita. Da forte sostenitrice del Partito Comunista Cinese (ma non c’era alternativa, dice Anastasia) si ritrova, piano piano, a comprendere la brutalità del Regime.

Studia, legge, approfondisce, e nella terra Americana avvia una nuova consapevolezza e una nuova attività di divulgazione e denuncia delle violazioni dei diritti umani in Cina. Nel 2015 viene eletta Miss World Canada, la finale di Miss Mondo avviene, quell’anno, in Cina. Anastasia fa domanda per il visto che le viene negato. Viene definita persona non grata al Governo Cinese.

Da allora Anastasia è ancora più attiva nel sostenere la causa a favore della democrazia e delle libertà in Cina. La sua è una storia di coraggio, di proposta e di rischi. “Mio padre vive in Cina, ed è stato minacciato molte volte dal Governo Cinese. Io sono il problema”.

Da quel giorno, Anastasia Lin è stata invitata a parlare all’ONU, al Parlamento Britannico, all’Università di Oxford e in molte altre iniziative internazionali. La incontriamo in un evento collaterale del World Economic Forum di Davos, all’interno della presentazione del progetto 21Democracy, un’iniziativa che punta a denunciare i rischi dovuti alla crescita dei regimi autoritari nel mondo.

Originally published here.

Europa braucht kluge Antworten um mit China umgehen zu können

Sowohl konventionelle militärische Bedrohungen als auch neuartige Gefahren wie hybride oder Cyber-Kriegsführung und Wirtschaftsspionage stellen Europa und die Welt weiterhin auf die Probe.

In den letzten dreißig Jahren waren Wachstum und Frieden die beiden Hauptpfeiler für Wohlstand und Freiheit in Europa. Die Europäische Union und deren Mitgliedsstaaten haben Wachstum durch die Öffnung nationaler Märkte und durch Liberalisierung des Handels ermöglicht. Millionen von Verbrauchern geht es durch den ungehinderten Austausch von Waren und Dienstleistung besser als es noch einer Generation davor ging.

Und trotz all dieser großartigen Entwicklungen seit dem Fall des Eisernen Vorhangs, gilt es jetzt nicht blind gegenüber autoritären Strömungen zu werden. Sowohl konventionelle militärische Bedrohungen als auch neuartige Gefahren wie hybride oder Cyber-Kriegsführung und Wirtschaftsspionage stellen Europa und die Welt weiterhin auf die Probe.

Chinas KP weltweit aktiv

Ein trauriges Beispiel, wie schnell Freiheit verloren gehen kann, ist Hong Kong. Obwohl es bis vor Kurzem als einer der freiesten und reichsten Staaten der Welt galt, hat der Einfluss der kommunistischen Partei aus Peking nun Überhand genommen. Das diskutierte Auslieferungsgesetz löste Straßenkämpfe aus, die nun seit fast einem halben Jahr anhalten. Ein Großteil der Gewalt kann auf gezielt geschürte Provokationen durch Handlanger der KP zurückgeführt werden.

Im kommunistischen China selbst befinden sich laut Angaben der New York Times über eine Million Uiguren in euphemistisch genannten „Umerziehungslagern“. Im Überwachungsstaat China darf man darüber allerdings nicht sprechen. Und dessen Interessen machen nicht an seinen Grenzen halt.

Die Debatte um den wünschenswerten Mobilfunkstandard 5G zeigt, wie gefährlich der Einfluss der chinesischen KP auf chinesische Firmen sein kann. Obwohl Firmen, wie Huawei oder ZTE Privatfirmen sind, scheint es eine große Nähe zur Partei zu geben. In Italien wurden mehrfach Hintertüren in Huawei-Technologie aufgedeckt.

Gerade offener und freier Handel hat die Globalisierung befeuert und hunderten Millionen von Menschen ein besseres Leben beschert. Trotz echter Bedrohungen durch staatsnahe Firmen aus China, sollte man von einem kompletten Handelskrieg absehen.

Eine kluge Antwort im Spannungsfeld von Handelsbeziehungen und der Angst vor dem Einfluß der KP auf unsere Privatsphäre wäre Technologie und Software von Firmen wie Huawei nur unter der Auflage von Open Source zuzulassen.

Wenn man so nah zur KP ist, muss man als Firma deutlich machen, dass man nichts zu verbergen hat.

Kultur, Sport, Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft unter KP Chinas Einfluss

Gleichzeitig sollten Verbraucher auch über den schleichenden Einfluss von Pekings Zensoren auf westliche Kunst und Kultur bewusst sein. Bei großen Studioproduktionen in Hollywood sitzt die KP oft schon in der Planungsphase mit am Tisch. Die von Disney produzierte Freddie Mercury Biografie wurde gleich so gefilmt, dass man die Szenen, die seine Homosexualität oder HIV Krankheit zeigen, leicht für den chinesischen Markt herausschneiden kann.closevolume_off

Nicht nur auf die amerikanische Basketballliga NBA wurde Druck nach individuellen Kritiken an China ausgeübt. Nachdem der ehemalige deutsche Nationalspieler Mesud Özil auf die Situation der Uiguren hinwies, strich ein chinesischer Fernsehsender die Ausstrahlung eines Spiels seines Clubs Arsenal London.

Doch liberale Demokratien müssen sich nicht nur gegen solche hybriden Angriffe auf ihre Freiheit und Rechtsstaatlichkeit vorbereiten, sondern sich auch gegen neue militärische Herausforderungen wappnen.

Während die russische Invasion der Krim und der östlichen Ukraine gezeigt hat, dass die NATO an ihrer östlichen Grenze wachsam bleiben muss, sollte die Politik auch nicht die chinesische Aufrüstung unterschätzen.

So wird in Europa und den Vereinigten Staaten darüber diskutiert eine neue Generation an elektromagnetischen Startvorrichtungen für Flugzeugträger doch nicht einzuführen. Die Marine der chinesischen Volksarmee ist da schon viel weiter und hat sich bereits für die Einführung dieser strategischen Schlüsseltechnologie entschieden. Das chinesische Militär arbeitet auch mit der russischen Marine an neuen atomgetriebenen Kriegsschiffen.

Diese Entwicklungen zeigen, wie wichtig es ist, dass liberale Demokratien wie die EU, die USA, Kanada, Australien und Japan eine neue Ebene der Zusammenarbeit finden. Diese neue Koordination muss zum einen Protestbewegungen wie in Hong Kong unterstützen, autoritären Einfluss in Demokratien aufdecken und zum anderen auch eine sinnvolle militärische Koordination vornehmen.

Originally published here.

Consumer Choice Center Launches 21Democracy Project to Counter Authoritarian Influence

Consumer Choice Center Launches 21Democracy Project to Counter Authoritarian Influence

Washington, D.C. – Today the Consumer Choice Center is announcing a new initiative aimed at countering the influence of authoritarian regimes on consumers around the world.

The goal of 21Democracy is to highlight the risks for consumer choice, privacy, human rights, national security, and intellectual property in the light of rising authoritarianism across the globe.

“The narrative of authoritarian regimes unduly influencing consumers and policies in liberal democracies is ongoing and we must be persistent in opposing it where possible,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the D.C.-based Consumer Choice Center.

“Whether it’s the actions of Putin’s Russia or the Chinese Communist Party, we cannot compromise the underpinnings of our liberal democratic systems in the face of authoritarian regimes.”

Articles on this theme have already been published in Politico EU and La Tribune.

Specifically, the Consumer Choice Center is deeply concerned about the threat the Communist Party of China (CPC) poses to consumers, particularly invasions of their privacy and intellectual rights. 

Too many western politicians and media figures have turned a blind eye to the threat that some Chinese companies, often de facto controlled by the Communist Party, pose to their constituents.

While we acknowledge the importance of global trade as a driver for consumer choice and prosperity, we also see the risk of this principle being hijacked by bad players. (Self-)Censorship in western movie productions and 5G networks being controlled by an authoritarian surveillance state are just two worrisome examples. 

Liberal democracies such as the EU, Canada, and the United States need to find a common approach to protect citizens from the rising influence stemming from authoritarian players such as communist China.

21Democracy aims to serve as a networking, awareness, and activation platform for combatting this threat to freedom. We will speak up when others stay silent, we build bridges between policymakers, business leaders, and government from liberal democracies, and we will lobby for policies that preserve freedom and individual liberties.

To begin these efforts, the Consumer Choice Center joined activists from Students For Liberty in Miami at the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat game last week to protest the NBA’s silencing of dissent of its athletes and coaches when it comes to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. 

They chanted in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and spoke with fellow attendees to disapprove of the league’s position on political dissent in Hong Kong.

More information about 21Democracy can be found on the website 21Democracy.com.

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The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. 

We represent consumers in over 100 countries across the globe and closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Why We Should Be Worried About Africa’s Borrowing Spree from China

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is accorded numerous bad reputations from being a ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ to ‘neocolonialist aid policy.’ The BRI, according to China, is a project that focuses on infrastructure development and investment. It especially targets the building of land and maritime networks that would link China with the rest of the world.

Although on paper, it is claimed that the policy should reduce impediments to trade and stimulate economic development, a long-term evaluation of its impact on beneficiary countries—especially African beneficiaries—points to the opposite.

Loans from China to African governments and state-owned enterprises between 2000 and 2017 alone exceeded $143 billion. This figure is high considering Chinese loans are easy money, which doesn’t come with stringent conditions as those provided by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

Although if compared with the financial commitments of other donors in Africa, Chinese loans are shrouded in secrecy, and assets such as ports, mines, and other hard infrastructures are often required as collateral.

This Chinese policy has, however, helped several African countries fill infrastructure gaps. Nigeria’s Abuja-Kaduna Railway was, for instance, funded by China and it is one of the main achievements of the Buhari administration. But Nigeria’s debt to China has reached 3 percent of its total debt stock of $81billion—Nigeria’s highest debt to any country. 

In fairness, though, some of the criticism of China’s loan policy is biased. There is the possibility that such loans are truly intended to finance the infrastructure of China’s interest in borrowing countries. The infrastructure loans are written in the name of the borrowing country, but the loans do not go into the country’s account. China chooses the contractor from its country and pays the contractor to fulfill the infrastructure project.

Former Minister of Information and Broadcasting of Zambia, Chishimba Kambwali, as well as labor consultant John Musonda, told Germany’s DW News that Chinese-funded construction and infrastructure projects are always awarded to Beijing-backed firms and some of these projects are expensive and sometimes lack quality and longevity. 

The harm here is that the country ends up with an expensive infrastructure that may not be the most urgent of its needs, and there is no transfer of skills because such construction contracts are handled by Chinese contractors, which leaves the country with debt and nothing significant in terms of economic gain. Another criticism is that the debts are commercially driven. 

Some claim that when China wants its money back, it will do what needs to be done to gain the corresponding value if a beneficiary defaults. This can often mean taking over the country’s assets, having negotiation advantages, and establishing political dominance.

In 2017, Sri Lanka struggled to service its loan owed to China. In turn, the Chinese government assumed control of one of its largest ports. More so, Djibouti’s debt to China is one of the highest when calculated as a percentage of  GDP. The small country in the Horn of Africa stands the risk of losing many public assets to China if it fails to repay Beijing.

At the moment, China has already established its first and only overseas military base in Djibouti. Whether the country wanted that or not, the debt profile would have threatened their rebellion against such a move. Since China made its intention to construct a military base in Djibouti in 2015, China, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, constructed a $4 billion electric rail between Ethiopia and Djibouti and funded a $300 million water pipeline system that will transport drinking water from Ethiopia to Djibouti. All this for a country with less than $1.8 billion in GDP.

Unlike several other African countries with natural resources, Djibouti’s strategic position is the juicy apple that China is targeting, which paid off with the construction of a Chinese military base in a country of fewer than one million people. 

Equally, Kenya equally stands to lose its Mombasa port should it default on its 2 Billion Euros ($2.23 billion) owed to China. The fact that the country is borrowing more to service old loans proves its vulnerability to unsustainable debt increment. Only recently, the Kenyan government lifted the ceiling on how much more money it could borrow—which could escalate its debt further. Angola, on the other hand, leads Africa in countries indebted to China, having racked up a debt of over $25 billion. 

It is reported that while Angola is the second-largest producer of oil in Africa, it has little oil to sell as most of its oil is going towards repayment of Chinese debts. Burundi, Chad, Mozambique, and Zambia, are also at the mercy of China as they remain at the risk of debt distress as a result of unsettled debts.

Before the Chinese government started to give loans, it already intended that it would use its loans to drive strategic development.

Therefore, the country would not hesitate in taking control of any infrastructure its loans had built in defaulting countries, rather than help African economies progress. This is the reality of the expansion of China’s geopolitical and economic dominance.

Olumayowa Okediran is the Managing Director of African Liberty and author of Navigate: A Prospection of Nigeria’s future till 2030. 

L’Europe a besoin de politiques intelligentes pour combattre les régimes autoritaires

OPINION. L’Union européenne est confrontée à une politique active d’influence militaire, commerciale, numérique et technologique de pays menée par des régimes autoritaires comme la Chine et la Russie. Le cas de l’Ukraine ou l’implantation de la 5G par Huawei en sont des exemples. Il est nécessaire que les démocraties libérales telles que l’UE et les États-Unis contrent cette politique en utilisant les principes de l’Etat de droit. Par Yaël Ossowski, Fred Roeder et Luca Bertoletti (*).

Pendant des décennies, la stabilité politique, la croissance économique et la paix ont été indispensables pour faire de l’Europe un continent prospère et libre.

Les institutions de l’Union européenne ainsi que les différents États membres ont été à la tête de ces efforts, en libéralisant le commerce et en ouvrant les marchés pour que les consommateurs et les citoyens soient beaucoup mieux lotis. Une coopération et des échanges accrus ont grandement amélioré la vie de millions de personnes.

Questions clés

Malgré l’ampleur de ces efforts, il reste des questions clés qui devraient tous nous préoccuper en tant que citoyens de pays démocratiques. Le spectre des régimes autoritaires est encore bien réel en Europe, comme en témoignent les mouvements militaires effrontés. Un autre exemple est les influences numériques et technologiques sophistiquées dans nos infrastructures, ainsi que nos établissements politiques.

Au Hong Kong, l’État autoritaire croissant de la Chine recourt à la violence et à l’intimidation pour réprimer des manifestations découlant d’un projet de loi sur l’extradition. L’existence de camps de rééducation chinois pour un million d’Ouïghours, la minorité musulmane, a longtemps été niée, mais elle est maintenant reconnue et couverte dans la presse grand public, comme le New York Times, après des années de campagnes menées par des groupes de défense des droits de la personne.

Les vastes capacités de surveillance de l’État chinois, bien connues de sa population nationale, commencent à avoir un impact sur les citoyens européens. Ceci est une tendance inquiétante.

Salve d’ouverture

Compte tenu de l’influence économique croissante de la Chine en Europe, ces faits doivent être revus à mesure que nous mettons en œuvre de nouvelles technologies. Le débat sur l’infrastructure 5G et Huawei n’en est que la salve d’ouverture. La protection de la vie privée des consommateurs et la sécurité des données doivent être garanties: les efforts visant à les protéger en tenant compte des préoccupations de sécurité nationale lors de l’approvisionnement en technologies clés, comme l’ont fait le Royaume-Uni, la France et l’UE avec le 5G, semblent être la meilleure approche.

Mais des politiques numériques intelligentes ne seront pas efficaces si elles ne protègent pas nos démocraties des menaces réelles.

Aux frontières de l’Union européenne, l’Ukraine se reconstruit après cinq années d’invasion, de conflit et d’affaiblissement stratégique par son puissant voisin russe. Des milliers d’Ukrainiens ont perdu la vie en défendant leur territoire, et la situation reste périlleuse alors que des millions d’anciens citoyens ukrainiens vivent maintenant derrière les frontières russes. C’est souvent oublié. Et il faut tenir compte de l’influence russe dans de nombreux grands partis politiques européens, sans parler des « socialbots » lors des élections.

40% des échanges commerciaux de l’Ukraine liés à l’UE

L’attention renouvelée accordée aux ressources énergétiques et à la position géopolitique de l’Ukraine lors des auditions de destitution du président Donald Trump ne fait qu’accentuer cette tendance, et l’on peut espérer que les pays européens resteront fermes dans leur volonté d’aider le pays qui a déjà aspiré à adhérer à l’UE. L’appui non seulement diplomatique, mais aussi commercial est essentiel à cet égard. Plus de 40 % des échanges commerciaux de l’Ukraine sont directement liés à l’UE, mais ils seront bientôt éclipsés par la Chine.

Des milliers d’entreprises européennes et américaines détiennent des intérêts stratégiques en Ukraine et encore plus d’entreprises ukrainiennes dépendent entièrement de clients européens. Ces relations doivent également persévérer, malgré les menaces de la Russie et de la Chine.

La technologie électrique ukrainienne utilisée dans les conducteurs et les allumages représente près de 285 millions d’euros de commerce avec l’Allemagne, tandis que les exportations allemandes de machines et de voitures sont essentielles pour les consommateurs ukrainiens.

Association entre Chine et Russie

Une autre de ces technologies est le catapultage des aéronefs à bord d’un porte-avions à l’aide d’un moteur à induction électromagnétique. Le président Trump a bizarrement fait sauter cette innovation en déclarant qu’il préférerait les lanceurs à vapeur, qui ont été utilisés pendant des décennies. Cependant, il semble que de nombreux pays européens, dont la France, soient enthousiastes à l’idée d’adopter la nouvelle technologie.

La Chine s’est déjà engagée à utiliser des lanceurs électromagnétiques pour ses futurs porte-avions et s’associe à la Russie pour construire la prochaine génération de navires nucléaires. Cela intervient alors que la Chine est devenue le premier partenaire commercial de l’Ukraine et qu’elle augmente ses investissements sur l’ensemble du continent.

L’Europe va-t-elle se permettre d’être concurrencée ? Quel sera l’impact d’une alliance militaire plus solide entre la Chine et la Russie sur les Européens? Seul l’avenir nous le dira, et nous espérons que nos principes démocratiques nous guideront vers la prospérité et la sécurité en même temps.

Soutien diplomatique

Ce qui reste clair, c’est que les nations européennes doivent mener des politiques intelligentes pour combattre cette montée des régimes autocratiques. Des évaluations minutieuses des importations des technologies, dont la technologie de 5G et autres, seront essentielles, de même qu’un soutien diplomatique.

Les principes démocratiques tels que l’État de droit sont extrêmement importants. Les démocraties libérales telles que l’UE et les États-Unis doivent trouver une approche commune pour protéger les citoyens de l’influence croissante d’acteurs autoritaires comme le régime communiste chinois.

C’est ainsi que nous pouvons continuer à soutenir la démocratie et la prospérité dans le monde entier.

(*) Yaël Ossowski, Fred Roeder et Luca Bertoletti sont directeurs de 21Democracy, un projet de l’agence pour le Choix du Consommateur.

21Democracy is the new initiative by the Consumer Choice Center that aims to highlight and counter the growth of authoritarian regimes abroad. This new initiative by the CCC aims to highlight, and more importantly, counter the growth of authoritarianism internationally and the impact that has on consumers and consumer choice. Authoritarianism ultimately runs counter to the values of freedom and suppresses consumer freedom.