NOTICE: Meng is free, so what is Canada doing now?

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With the extradition of the Huawei executive now being taken care of, Canada no longer has an excuse for not clarifying its Chinese policy.

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So long. Goodbye. Auf Wiedersehen. Bye. And please, Meng Wanzhou, don’t come back.

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The Huawei executive can finally leave Vancouver and return home to China after being released Friday by a New York court that upheld a “deferred prosecution agreement” on fraud and conspiracy charges.

Hopefully she’s not the only prisoner reaping the rewards of the deferred prosecution – coincidentally, the same process so flatly discredited during the long and drawn-out political battle between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Meng’s delayed prosecution could literally save the lives of Canadians caught up in the aftermath of his December 2018 arrest in Vancouver under Canada’s extradition treaty with the United States.

The best known of the 119 Canadians held in Chinese prisons are businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who were arrested just days after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver. Robert Schellenberg, a convicted drug dealer, had his sentence increased to the death penalty.

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But others include Huseyn Celil, who is serving a 15-year sentence on terrorism charges related to his Uyghur plea, and Sun Qian, who was sentenced to eight years for being a Falun Gong practitioner.

All are held in appalling conditions and have little contact with anyone, including Canadian diplomats.

In contrast, Meng was released on $ 10 million bail, living in her multi-million dollar Vancouver home that she sometimes shared with her husband and two children, and benefited from frequent visits from Huawei officials. and Chinese consular staff.

As Canadian legal proceedings dragged on, she sported a heavy GPS tracking device with her high heels on during her various errands, restaurant meals, painting classes and online English lessons with a private tutor.

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Meanwhile, Canada-China relations have deteriorated to the lowest point since reestablishing contact after the communist revolution, setting back decades of work by liberal and conservative governments and corporations to find their way into the lucrative market. Chinese.

Free trade talks abruptly ended, and Chinese sanctions on canola and pork cost prairie producers millions of dollars in lost exports.

As Canada struggled out of this mess, careers were destroyed, or at least diminished.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, was fired for suggesting Meng would likely win his extradition case because of then-President Donald Trump’s comment that he could intervene.

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Former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien advised Trudeau to turn his back on the US extradition treaty to win favor with China.

Despite Chrétien’s failure, 19 former politicians, government officials and diplomats crammed in June 2020, calling for a prisoner swap – Meng for the two Michaels.

Among them are some of the legion of former politicians and officials who have used their internal contacts and knowledge to lobby the government on behalf of Canadian and Chinese companies.

It was an uncomfortable overlap that prompted Conservative MP Kenny Chiu to introduce a private member’s bill in April that would have forced them to register if they were working on behalf of other countries or their companies. ‘State. This made Chiu and her party the target of a disinformation campaign in Chinese newspapers and social media that likely contributed to her defeat in this week’s federal election.

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Meng’s arrest – and the detention of the two Michaels – was the spark of growing animosity against China that has been fueled by growing security concerns over China, its growing belligerence in Hong Kong. , human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority and a pandemic commonly believed to originate in China.

An ongoing RCMP investigation into why two Chinese researchers – one who did not reveal his rank in the People’s Liberation Army – were fired from Canada’s only top virology lab contributes to this .

There are also unanswered questions about whether universities and colleges across Canada have sufficient security measures in place to protect intellectual property and technology from theft.

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Taken together, this has turned Canadian public opinion against China.

A Nanos poll conducted earlier this month found 63 percent believe Canada needs to be more aggressive in its relationship with China. It should be noted, however, that 44% of those polled said that a political party’s stance on China would have no influence on how they voted.

So far, the Chinese policy of the Trudeau government has been largely a policy of appeasement and silence. While the Liberals claim to stand up for human rights, Trudeau and his cabinet were absent in February when parliament unanimously agreed that China’s treatment of Uyghurs meets the United Nations definition of cultural genocide.

Only among its allies Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States in the intelligence network “Five Eyes” who have rejected the participation of Huawei in their 5G networks, Canada has not yet made a decision.

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Canada is also a stranger to a deal struck in federal elections by Britain, Australia and the United States to form a defense pact to contain China’s military might in the Indo-Pacific.

This raises the question not only of whether Canada should be part of such an alliance, but whether our allies trust Canada to be part of it.

With Meng’s case resolved and hopefully both Michael and others finally released, the government has no excuse for not clarifying how it intends to deal with China.

And in an increasingly fractured and belligerent world, Canada may have no choice but to choose sides.

[email protected]

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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