Saturday, June 09, 2007

Harper warns China about democracy and human rights

Very good Mr. Harper, but why stop there? There is still the espionage issue that needs to be tackled and organ harvesting of living Falun Gong practitioners.

Ottawa Citizen HEILIGENDAMM, Germany - June 09, 2007 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday that, as China's power grows, the country will come under "increasing pressure" from the international community on issues such as democracy and human rights.

"As it grows in importance and wealth, it will face increasing pressure from the world community on issues of democratic development and human rights, on issues like climate change and environmental protection, and on issues of corporate social responsibility, in particular the responsibilities of Chinese enterprises and commercial activities in the Third World," the prime minister said.

Harper, who has not shied from criticizing the Communist regime, met Hu on the final day of the G8 summit here in this Baltic Sea resort. China is not a member of the group of eight leading industrialized nation, but, as a major developing country, it was invited to attend, along with India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

The prime minister said he emphasized the need to "grow and deepen" the ties between the two countries, but that did not stop him "from aggressively and appropriately raising very legitimate concerns."

Next year's summer Olympics in Beijing will be a test of China's standing on the world stage, predicted Harper.

"When you open your country to the world that way and ask every television camera in the world to come in, I think it would be in your own self-interest to make that image as positive as it can be."

In Ottawa, China's ambassador to Canada, Lu Shumin, said his government is open to continuing a dialogue with Canadian officials to discuss human rights.

"I still believe the relations between China and Canada are basically moving forward," Lu told a news conference.

Harper's remarks in Germany came a day after he reproached fellow G8 leader Vladimir Putin for being unwilling to accept criticism about democratic reform and human rights in Russia.

The prime minister also ruffled feathers in Beijing last fall when he pressed China on its human-rights record. He vowed that Canada would not "sell out" its beliefs in democracy, freedom and human rights to the "almighty dollar."

His remarks drew an icy response from Chinese officials and troubled Canadian business leaders who are trying to build trade ties with the fast-growing Chinese economy.

At one point last fall, Hu cancelled a meeting that had been scheduled with Harper at a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation nations. The pair eventually met on the sidelines of the summit, but a Chinese official described the meeting as "very brief."

A major irritant in bilateral relations has been the case of Canadian activist Huseyin Celil, an Ugyur Muslim recently sentenced by China to life in prison for terrorism-related offences. Canada has pressed for more access to Celil by consular officials and lawyers. Harper said Friday he raised the case with Hu, but did not elaborate.

This week, Harper said any successor to the Kyoto accord on climate change should include the United States and fast-emerging economies such as China and India.

But China has resisted setting any "quantifiable" emissions targets, even though it is projected to surpass the U.S. in the next few years as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Ottawa Citizen with file from Mike De Souza (CanWest News Service).

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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