For Immediate Release
Engagement with Chinese government already proven hollow
(Montreal, Friday, 11 July 2008) – The Canada Tibet Committee rejects Bob Rae’s contention that “constructive engagement” alone with the government of China will lead to substantive progress on human rights and democratic reform in China.
Rae made his comments yesterday when the Liberal Party’s Foreign Affairs critic called on Prime Minister Harper to attend the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Games
“Engagement without substantive benchmarks and consequences are simply empty words propping up a failed foreign policy initiative that does nothing to serve the cause of human rights in China,” said CTC Executive Director Dermod Travis today. “The results of decades of Rae’s engagement are in and they speak forcefully to its abject failure in the absence of a genuine commitment to human rights by the Chinese government.”
The CTC pointed to a review of Amnesty International’s China reports over the last 20 years to demonstrate that yesterday’s repression remains today’s repression throughout China. Despite what some may call promising rhetoric from Chinese leaders during this period, little on the ground has actually changed.
Travis noted that in Amnesty’s 1988 report, the human rights organization referenced the detention of several hundred Tibetans, following a peaceful protest “by Tibetan monks carrying flags and calling for Tibet’s independence”. In 1997, Amnesty’s report noted the arrest of close to 100 Tibetans for “crimes” such as peacefully protesting a ban on all images of the Dalai Lama and that monks were locked inside a monastery for three weeks until they signed declarations denouncing the Dalai Lama. And in 2007, Amnesty noted the arrest of 40 Tibetan children by police in Gansu Province “for writing pro-Tibetan independence slogans on walls”.
“Political leaders who advocate mere ‘engagement’ with China can’t have it both ways: claiming progress on one hand, while Tibetans and Chinese reformers continue to be relentlessly persecuted on the other,” said Travis. “It’s time for Rae and other proponents of engagement to show Canadians the results or develop a new China policy for Canada that places genuine commitment before empty words.”
Twenty years ago, when the Chinese government brutally cracked down on student activists in Tiananmen Square, then Opposition Leader the Rt. Hon. John Turner stated: “Canada will not stand idly by while this struggle for democracy and human rights goes on.” The CTC also believes that Canada can not stand idly by in 2008 while Tibetans are killed, Chinese reformers are detained and tortured, and other activists are rounded-up by authorities in advance of the Beijing Games.
“One missing Tibetan monk, one organ harvest of a Falun Gong adherent, one jailed Chinese blogger is one too many,” said Travis.
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.
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