Destabilizing speculation

Xi is not attending the Glasgow summit; why is Canada going to the Beijing Games?

As world leaders gather in Glasgow this week for the COP26 summit on the global climate crisis, the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping has not gone unnoticed. The future Chinese president for life did not even give a speech by video. Instead, he sent a simple written statement devoid of any concrete commitment.

There has been a lot of speculation as to why Xi hasn’t traveled outside of China in the past 21 months. The COVID-19 pandemic only partially explains this self-isolation. Specifically, Xi’s absence from Glasgow can be attributed to his refusal to hang out with US President Biden and other members of the Democratic camp.

Indeed, this would suggest that Beijing is giving in to external pressure to adjust its policies, in light of how it has subordinated its collaboration with the United States on climate change at the end of Washington to its criticism of the destabilizing behavior of the United States. China and internal repression.

The Beijing strongman is firmly committed to a worldview that has hijacked cooperation with the world’s second largest economy and the rising superpower on issues that concern us all. Unless the West gives up its pressure on Beijing to act responsibly at home and abroad, the world will be held hostage by a party apparatus that prioritizes ideology over government. universal good.

Xi’s star outside of China has faded considerably in recent years, largely due to Chinese military assertion in the East and South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, Beijing’s concealment of the origins of the COVID epidemic and its widespread human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. So there is no doubt that Xi would have been an outlier – and possibly even avoided – in Glasgow. And for the leader of an authoritarian ultra-personalist party-state, such humiliation cannot be tolerated.

With China inflexible in its ideology and led by a president who cannot bear to lose face on the international stage, the question arises as to whether the Democratic camp, of which Canada is a proud member, might also consider surrendering its position. complicity with China more conditional.

On issues of global – and vital – importance like climate change, all governments should be able to put their differences aside, and Ottawa should have no qualms about working with Beijing on this issue, even if we have serious differences on human rights, democracy and territorial ambitions.

However, on less planetary matters, including activities that serve as propaganda platforms for Xi’s highly repressive regime, the Democratic side should really ask themselves whether they want to be complicit.

If Xi is prepared to let his ideological differences with the West hamper his country’s participation in efforts to secure a decent future for generations to come, then why should we on the democratic side legitimize his dogmatism and authoritarianism by participating in the Beijing Winter Games – an event which the Communist regime will undoubtedly exploit to the end to promote its ominous Orwellian system?

By hijacking cooperation in the fight against climate change, Beijing seeks to condition us to abandon the liberal-democratic rules of the game that have defined us for several decades. He wants us to remain silent about the excesses of his ideology and to look the other way as he subjects hundreds of millions of his own citizens – chiefly ethnic minorities – to treatment reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet gulag.

Even as Beijing and its propagandists seek to discredit research into what is happening in Tibet and Xinjiang, the evidence of systematic human rights violations and ethnic cleansing is now indisputable, the result of decades of research by dozens of people. Western and Chinese academics and journalists. . That, alone, should force our governments to question the wisdom, and even the morality, of facing a regime that orchestrates such abominations.

We cannot afford not to fight climate change; but we can certainly afford to be absent from next year’s despotic games.

J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based principal investigator at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a former analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.


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