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 Whistleblowers Need Protection



Remarks by Hon. David kilgour, J.D.

World Human Rights Day Forum
Simon Fraser University, Fletcher Challenge Canada Theatre, Vancouver

December 8, 2007

Canadians, including our national government, civil society institutions and businesses, should remain engaged with the government and the broadest possible range of entities and citizens across China next year and beyond despite the continuing difficulties while China maintains a totalitarian government. A democracy with very Chinese features is, however, probably much closer than some think. No-one on the Canadian side should forget ever that the values we represent are Canadian ones, including human dignity for all, the rule of law, democracy, corporate social responsibility and the need of Canadians to hold good jobs with good incomes in the future as well as the present.

Doubtless like yourselves, my own respect for the people of China and their country is longstanding. It grew during visits to various centres both as Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), 2002-03, and earlier as a Member of Parliament. Hong Kong, for example, is one of my favourite cities in the world. Shanghai is outstanding, but so are Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing and many others. It is no accident that the more than one million Canadians of origin in the Middle Kingdom are reportedly our best-educated ethno-cultural community. It was an honour to represent some of them in Parliament for about 27 years.

Let me also stress here something that some diplomats, sinologists, journalists and business executives occasionally forget: China is its peoples, cultures, land and natural environment, and history far more than its unelected government. My criticisms are of the party-state, not at all of the oppressed and very hard-working Chinese people. The current Hu-Wen government, like its predecessors, continues to inflict enormous harm upon its own population, their natural environment and upon some other peoples around the world.

Dalai Lama

Perhaps like some of you, I grew up thinking that Mao Zedong was the wise and benign founder of modern China. Some of us read propaganda about Mao, such as Edgar Snow's Red Star over China. As a naïve graduate student in Paris in 1969-1970, I valued my Little Red Book and listened to favourable commentators about Maoism and even believed some of them.Today, thanks to a number of more independent and well-researched works, we know the appalling things that happened under Mao's bloody dictatorship.

Since one of Canada's three living honourary citizens, the world-renowned Dalai Lama, was recently in Canada, allow me to illustrate the more modern approach to Maoism by what the seminal work, Mao-The Unknown Story by Jung Chang (author of Wild Swans) and Jon Halliday says in part about Mao's treatment of the Tibetan people:

In early 1959, Mao wrote about the uprising then underway in Tibet, caused in part by drastically-increased food requisitions there because of the famine conditions created by Mao's catastrophic 'Great Leap Forward': "This (rebellion) is... a good thing. Because this makes it possible to solve our problems through war." When word spread later in Tibet that Mao planned to kidnap the then very young Dalai Lama, thousands of Tibetans passed in front of the palace, shouting "Chinese get out." Mao cabled that the Dalai Lama should be allowed to escape because he feared his death would "inflame world opinion, particularly in the Buddhist countries and India, which Mao was courting (p.447 of Mao). Once he had escaped, Mao told his men: 'Do all you can to hold the enemies in Lhasa (Tibet's capital) when our main force arrives we can surround them and wipe them out'."

The book adds other details, including statements by the Panchen Lama, who initially actually welcomed the Chinese invasion of Tibet: "After Mao's death, the Panchen Lama revealed what he had not put in his original letter (to Mao): that a staggering 15-20 percent of all Tibetans-perhaps half of all adult males-were thrown into prison, where they were basically worked to death. They were treated like subhumans. Lama Palden Gyatso, a brave long-term prisoner, told us he and other prisoners were flogged with wire whips as they pulled heavy plows."

The Dalai Lama, with his message of compassion and limited autonomy for Tibet, was welcomed enthusiastically by many thousands of Canadians from myriad backgrounds during his visit despite the chorus of criticism from voices of the party-state in Beijing. On the day after some of the most dire threats were made, Bombardier of Montreal announced the largest single passenger-train deal in China's history ($569 million). Standing up for universal values has not cost a single export to China from any country since 1978 as far as I can determine for the reason that international trade is done everywhere for self-interest reasons and perhaps nowhere more than in China today.

Contemporary China

David Matas and I concluded to our horror following our independent investigation that since the latter part of 2000 the government of China and its agencies have murdered thousands of Falun Gong practitioners without any form of prior trial and then sold their vital organs for large sums of money often to 'organ tourists' from wealthy countries (Our report is available in 18 languages at

My own experience with Falun Gong practitioners in the almost forty countries David Matas and I have now visited, seeking to raise awareness about what is continues to be done to them in China in order to attempt to bring these crimes to a halt, has been overwhelmingly positive. They really do attempt to live their core principles of "truth, compassion and tolerance", which are of course shared by most of the world's religions.

Matas and I have spoken in various places to a small number of the tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners sent to labour camps since 1999, who managed to leave both the camps and China itself. They worked in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily with no pay and little food, making export products, ranging from garments to chopsticks to Christmas decorations for multinational companies. As this constitutes gross corporate social irresponsibility; the CEOs of multinational companies using forced labour subcontractors within China should also be held accountable.

The propaganda phase of the government of China's war begun in mid-1999 against a then estimated 70-100 million Falun Gong practitioners demonized, vilified and dehumanized them in the state-controlled media. Many Chinese nationals and others outside China were thereby persuaded to think of the community as disruptive and tragically even somehow less than human.

There has been no independently reported instance of a Falun Gong practitioner using violence to respond to police and other attacks by officials upon them since July, 1999. The UN Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Novak, concluded following his visit to China a year or so ago that fully two thirds of the persons being tortured across that country were Falun Gong practitioners. How can such a government be hosting next year's Olympic Games?

Why is it that in only one of the seventy or so countries where practitioners live and flourish are they persecuted mercilessly by unelected tyrants? Their huge and growing popularity among the Chinese people during the 1990s was clearly one reason, but another was no doubt that the values of those in power in Beijing are clearly at the opposite end of the ethical spectrum from their own.

As Ross Terrill of Harvard University's Fairbank Centre for East Asian Research puts it in his 2003 book, The New Chinese Empire: "The Fearful State in Beijing had transformed Falun Gong from a harmless, health-promoting lifestyle choice of millions of mostly older Chinese into a menace to the "stability and unity" of the Red Middle Kingdom. That loyal and quite senior members of the CCP, some in the army, police and air force, were among the Falun Gong membership did not undermine the imperative to stamp out a potential, if unwitting, philosophic challenge to the state."

The phenomenon recalls the similarly inhuman media campaign unleashed by the government of Rwanda against the minority Tutsi community in that country prior to the genocide there between April and June, 1994.

The Chinese Medical Association recently agreed with the World Medical Association that 'organ tourists' will obtain no more transplants in China. All of us around the world concerned about organ pillaging from Falun Gong practitioners will watch to see whether this verbal commitment to a better direction is enforced. One worry we have is that the organs seized from unwilling "donors" across China will now go to Chinese patients, with the grotesque commerce thus continuing in the same volumes. You can find an open letter to the World Medical Association under "Organ Pillaging and Falun Gong" at .

If any of you doubt the weight of the cumulative evidence in our report, you can access the revised version from the first item on the header page of Virtually no independent person I know who has read it is not convinced of the dismaying validity of our conclusion. Some in national governments of varying political stripes, who are no doubt privately persuaded, unfortunately choose to say otherwise in public because to concur that such crimes against humanity are continuing in China would presumably require some different bilateral policies with the party-state in Beijing, quite possibly in respect of its Olympic Games in the summer of 2008.

None of these deaths would be occurring if the Chinese people as a whole enjoyed the rule of law and their government believed in the intrinsic worth and dignity of each one of them. Human life in China appears to have no more value to those in power there than does the natural environment, work safety, health care for all, the lives of African residents in Darfur or Buddhist monks and students in Burma. In my opinion, it is the lethal combination of totalitarian governance and 'anything goes' capitalism that allows this new form of evil in the world to continue across the Middle Kingdom today.


All trading partners of China should be pushing the Hu-Wen government harder to change its mercantilist economic policies, which are clearly designed to reduce jobs and production everywhere else in the world and could in time ruin the entire world trading system. As China moves up the technology ladder, it is becoming the low-cost export platform for more and more industries. The centrepiece of China's policy is the wildly undervalued exchange rate for the yuan, which is perhaps 40 per cent lower than it should be and is unfairly boosting China's exports, output and jobs at the expense of all its trading partners. Just consider what our loonie, which has soared by roughly 15 per cent against the US dollar over the past year, is doing to the competitiveness of Canadian exporters. As a result in part of such policies, China's central bank now has $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves.

Closely related to this trading environment is how the government in Beijing continues to mistreat its own population in order to keep down domestic consumption, including the absence of an effective social safety net. For example, less than a fifth of Chinese workers have pensions; even less are covered by unemployment insurance.

Government of China Abroad-Olympic Games 2008

In far too many countries around our shrunken planet, including Sudan, Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe, the role of the government of China is destructive and promoting official and private corruption. For example, is it not likely that the protesting Buddhist monks and protesters shot dead by the soldiers of the generals weeks ago in Rangoon were killed by Chinese bullets fired from Chinese-made rifles?

How could such a regime be awarded the Olympic Games for next summer by the International Olympic Committee? Virtually all independent human rights organizations say that human dignity has deteriorated across China since the games were awarded. There is some new indication of this virtually every week.

Permit me to repeat some points made about Darfur recently by Sgt Debbie Bodkin, a police detective with the Waterloo Police. Bodkin investigated victims in former Yugoslavia in 2000, Chad in 2004, and for the UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur in 2004-2005. She described some of what she heard during her victim interviews during the UN inquiry, including testimony from a 10-year-old Darfuri girl who was gang raped by the Janjaweed. Another brave woman came forward and told her that approximately fifty African Darfuri girls and women in her refugee camp alone had been raped. One of the racist insults used by the perpetrators was, "Slave, get out of my country". Bodkin told us that she continues to suffer post-traumatic stress in part because the "killers are still running rampant".

The government of China since 1997 has been the largest supplier of arms to the government in Khartoum. Tanks, fighter planes, bombers, helicopters, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades- all were paid for from oil revenues generated mostly by the China National Petroleum Cooperation. The deputy foreign minister of China, Zhou Wenzhong, insisted during 2004, "Business is business. We try to separate politics from business". The Chinese diplomats at the UN Security Council and elsewhere have mixed business and politics in respect to Sudan continuously during at least the past decade. Mia Farrow is fully correct in how she refers to the government of China's active and continuous role in Sudan's ongoing catastrophe. "Genocide Olympics" is her still fully applicable phrase.

Steven Spielberg should resign as artistic consultant to the Beijing Olympics unless the Government of China does far more than it's doing now to stop the killing, raping and bombing in Darfur and elsewhere.

There is no doubt that the government of China's more recent interest in stopping the unspeakably cruel violence, which continues against communities deemed 'African' in Darfur, is related to offsetting for public relations purposes the "Genocide Olympics" charge.

  • Over the past decade, the government of China has provided the Bashir government with more than $US ten billion in commercial and capital investment, mostly for oil investments, with crude oil comprising virtually all of Sudan's exports and most of it going to China.
  • According to one source within Sudan, up to seventy percent of the Sudanese government's revenues from oil are spent on arms, a good deal of them coming from China. Nick Kristof of the New York Times has reported that the government of China has built four small arms factories in Sudan.
  • The most valuable service President Hu of China has provided to Bashir's government is using China's permanent veto at the UN Security Council to protect the Sudanese regime from any robust peacemaking initiatives while the slaughter in Darfur continues. Only following Mia Farrow's op-ed piece in March, 2007, which accused the government of China of assisting in genocide, did China's UN representative join in the unanimous Security Council resolution 1769 to send 26,000 civilian police and peacemakers to Darfur.

More than three months after the authorization of the hybrid UN/African Union peacekeeping force by Security Council Resolution 1769, the Sudan government continues to resist. Militarily capable Western governments, including Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries, are failing to provide essential peackeeping force elements, to provide tactical and transport helicopters, as well as significant ground transport resources. The designated UNAMID force commander recently noted that "there would be at most 8000 troops in Darfur by January (2008)--only 1000 more than the current force."

We all know that full deployment of UNAMID will not end the catastrophe for various reasons, including the fact that it cannot arrest the Janjaweed and will be unable to go anywhere the government of Sudan objects to. All responsible governments must act quickly to save lives. Resolution 1769 is the only means the international community has to stop the killing and raping-and we must somehow make it work quickly.

Five policy proposals

Here are five policy proposals in respect of Canada-China relations for 2008 and beyond which would change the dynamics of our relationship and apply more realistic approaches:

1. Canadian jobs and economy must be our priority.

According to a survey of more than one thousand Canadian businesses by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) revealed quite recently,  fully one fifth of Canadian manufacturers have responded to the rising Loonie by shifting production to China. What is happening in British Columbia? A well-informed Montrealer, for instance, told me recently that approximately seventy companies from his province would not be manufacturing in China now without Export Development Corporation (EDC) financial help. I was not able to determine the extent and nature of EDC assistance to such relocations-if any-but no taxpayer money should be going to relocate jobs to China or anywhere else. 

2. Our values must be asserted continuously in dealings with Beijing

All democratic governments, including Canada's, must cease being delusional about the party-state in Beijing. There were approximately 87,000 protests across China in 2005 alone about everything from massive rural unemployment to corruption to poor health care. The regime continues to rely on savage repression and brutality to maintain itself in office, but what are Canadian diplomats in China effectively doing to show themselves to be the friends of the poor, persecuted and abused? What are they doing to advance the rule of law and human dignity? Canada should seek to replay in China the important role we had in establishing popular democracy in South Africa in the late 1980s.

3. Apply lessons of non-violent civic resistance elsewhere to China

There are lessons presumably to be applied very carefully (in light of the Tiananmen protest experience in 1989 and elsewhere since) in China from the non-violent civic resistance which occurred in Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, Chile, Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, the Baltics, South Africa, Serbia, Peru, Georgia, Romania and other nations. Each was different in terms of boycotts, mass protests, strikes and civil disobedience. In all, authoritarian rulers were delegitimized and their sources of support, including their armed defenders, abandoned them. The government of Canada should make it clear to all that it stands with the oppressed people of China and seeks a peaceable transition to the rule of law and democratic government.

4. Zero tolerance in future for unfair trade practices in Beijing

There will in future be zero tolerance in Canada when unfair trade practices are used by the government of China or exporters there, including theft of intellectual property and the continued refusal to honour commitments made to the World Trade Organization on joining in 2001. Our border and other customs personnel should, for example, work much more carefully to seize counterfeit products made in China or anywhere and to seize precursor chemicals used to manufacture cocaine, heroin, Speed and Ecstasy.

5. The key strategic partners for Canada in Asia must be India and Japan until China democratizes

Until China becomes a democracy, Canada's strategic partners in East Asia should be Japan and India in large part because both are longtime democracies with independent judges, the rule of law and support for human dignity. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany during her recent visit to India has made essentially the same point in respect of India. We should also pay much more attention to other partners in Asia than has been the case over the past decade.

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