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Showing posts with label Xinjiang. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Xinjiang. Show all posts

Saturday, 10 April 2021

World War III: Will History Record that Jody Wilson-Raybould Was the Canadian Gavrilo Princip?

 "If I listened to John Bolton, we would have had world war six by now!"

                                                        Donald Trump, President of the USA

Homo Sapiens?  Are we?

When Yuval Noah Harari speculated in Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind, rather off-handedly, that the human species was unlikely to be around for another thousand years, I thought he was exaggerating.  These days, I'm not so sure.  One thousand years is beginning to sound optimistic.

The Doomsday Clock

In 2020, the Doomsday Clock moved to 100 seconds 'til midnight.  According to the "Thucydides trap" hypothesis, a war between China and the USA isn't just possible, it is statistically probable. When he first presented this hypothesis in 2015, Harvard professor Graham Allison argued that 

Managing this relationship [China/USA] without war will demand sustained attention, week by week, at the highest level in both countries. It will entail a depth of mutual understanding not seen since the Henry Kissinger-Zhou Enlai conversations in the 1970s. Most significantly, it will mean more radical changes in attitudes and actions, by leaders and publics alike, than anyone has yet imagined.

Since 2015, we have been moving rapidly in the opposite direction, with marked acceleration in 2021.  According to the 2021--Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

US and Russian nuclear modernization efforts continued to accelerate, and North Korea, China, India, and Pakistan pursued “improved” and larger nuclear forces. Some of these modernization programs are beginning to field weapons with dangerous enhancements, like Russia’s nuclear-tipped Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles, which are being installed on new SS-29 (Sarmat) missiles designed to replace 1980s-era intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Russia continues to field battalions of intermediate-range, ground-launched, nuclear-armed missiles—missiles previously banned by the now-defunct Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, from which the United States withdrew in 2019. China, which has historically relied on a small and constrained nuclear arsenal, is expanding its capabilities and deploying multiple, independently retargetable warheads on some of its ICBMs and will likely add more in the coming year.

The Triggers of war

The causes of war usually involve complicated gestalts which experts will spend generations attempting to untangle and explain. The causes of the Vietnam War are entangled with the vagueries and incoherence of an ideological Cold War which make them near impossible to fully understand even fifty years later.  However, in our high-school history classes, we Boomers were always instructed about the "triggers of war."  For example, the Spanish-American War was triggered by the sinking of the USS Maine.  "Remember the Maine" became the battle cry of the war; however, subsequent investigations concluded that the sinking of the Maine was likely an accident caused by an internal explosion onboard. (For more recent "triggers" see Petrodollar Warfare: Understanding the US Obsession with Iran



The most significant trigger of all time was a 19-year-old Bosnian-Serb named Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914, which led to World War I which, arguably, with the botched Treaty of Versailles, led to World War II.  I first alluded to Gavrilo Princip in 2018 in a post on "The Chaos Theory of International Trade." 

Imagine a high-school history class after World War III. There are a lot of "ifs" here: if there is a third world war, if the Species survives, and if History is still taught in high school.


A History of the future

My historical narrative begins with Richard Donoghue, a young army officer who joins JAG (Judge Advocate General's Corps), first as an attorney, then becomes a judge.  In 2011, he accepts a position as vice president and Chief Litigator for CA Technologies, one of the largest tech companies in the world (in the top 100 according to Bloomberg).  [CA needed a good lawyer.  In 2006, the chairman of the board was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud.]  January 2,  2018, Donoghue leaves CA to become US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  Eight months later (22 August 2018),  Donoghue issues a warrant for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei and daughter of the company's founder

Why was Meng arrested?

Why? [Try explaining this to a class of high-school students!]  The charge is "bank fraud."  For most people, "bank fraud" means she stole money, but not in this case. According to the indictment, at a meeting in a tea-house in Hong Kong in 2013 she allegedly told an executive of HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation) that Huawei did not control a company called Skycom which was doing business in Iran in contravention of US sanctions.

Is she guilty?

Did she really say this?  Did she really fool HSBC into contravening US sanctions?  Who knows?  Does it really matter? HSBC had already been convicted of money laundering, including making investments in Iran, but Meng's "lying," saying or not saying, really has no bearing on the ultimate story.  There was no precedent for arresting a business executive for moving money in Iran, though many companies had been convicted and paid fines.  Meng was arrested because the USA, for political reasons, ideological reasons, business reasons, security reasons (choose the one which makes the most sense to you), was out to get Huawei.  Meng (and Canada), it has become evident, were collateral damage in the plan to undermine Huawei.  The sensible thing for Canada to do was just get out of the way, but it was up to the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to get us out of the way.

Meng was traveling the world as Huawei's leading sales-person but, apparently, Donoghue couldn't find a country willing to serve his warrant.  Then, on December 1, 2018, he asked the Canadian Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in keeping with the Treaty on Extradition Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America and the Canadian Extradition Act to have Meng arrested, and she did.

Why arrest Meng in Canada?

Why did she accept to have Meng arrested?  [Try explaining this to a high-school class!]  Why would she accept to proceed with this unprecedented arrest which would have predictable and dire political consequences?  To most of the world, the arrest would appear arbitrary and illegal, Canada kowtowing to US hegemony--showing the Americans that Canada would ditch its trade deals with China if that's what the Trump White House wanted.  In truth, the Americans, that is, Donoghue did the minimum in asking Canada to serve the warrant.  Chances are they were surprised by how easy it was to get Canadian law enforcement onboard even to the point of "accidentally" contravening Meng's rights. Donoghue did the necessary,  specifying that the crime was "bank fraud," which was on the Treaty's list of extraditable offenses. And he went through the motions of a Grand Jury trial, which would have been a foregone conclusion.  

Is there any chance that the USA will keep a Chinese executive in prison?

Has anybody noticed how little the Americans have to say about the seriousness of Meng's crimes?  Clearly, the Americans are keeping their options open; allowing them to release Meng at a later date without much fanfare.  The last thing the Americans want is to have a major Chinese executive in a US jail, while they continue to do 100 to 150 billion dollars in trade every year with China.  Can you imagine a situation--with Meng in a US jail--where every American business executive who travels to China or any country where China holds influence would risk arrest and/or extradition? Meng's extradition to the USA allows only three possibilities:  1) she and/or Huawei will pay a fine proving that she should never have been extradited in the first place (the Extradition Act and the Treaty specify that the minimum requirement to justify extradition is one year of imprisonment), 2) an all-out Sino-American war or 3) she will be released (without prejudice) and some US Democrat will express media-wide surprise that Canada went along with the ill-conceived Republican plot (orchestrated by John Bolton and Richard Donoghue) to arrest her.

Richard Donoghue's conflict of interest

I originally speculated that there might be a financial pay-off for Donoghue from CA Technologies for slowing down a competitor--Huawei.  But CA Technologies was sold to Broadcom in 2018, so Donoghue's pay-off would probably have to come elsewhere. 

Donaghue was given the honour of announcing the conviction of El Chapo, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, in 2019.  Of course, attorneys, NYPD, FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, etc, etc, had been working the case for 30 years, but Donaghue got the plum of announcing the conviction after little more than a year on the job.  Then he was promoted to special duties on the Ukraine file.  In public media, no-one seemed to know exactly what "Ukraine file" meant, but I interpreted he was assigned to getting the dirt on Hunter Biden. When William Barr resigned as Attorney general, Deputy Attorney General Rosen replaced him, and Donald Trump named Donoghue the new Deputy Attorney General.

Did Trump know?

Did Trump know the very day he was having a one-on-one meeting with Xi that Donoghue was having Meng arrested in Vancouver?  No.  Despite hedging in the Guardian interview, claiming he didn't know if Trump knew, John Bolten confirms in this book that he, as National Security Advisor, had been informed of Meng's arrest and decided not to tell President Trump.  Trump was incredulous when he found out and, according to Josh Rogin in Chaos under Heaven, complained that they had "arrested the Ivanka Trump of China."  

Why did Jody Wilson-Raybould arrest "the Ivanka Trump of China"?

Why did Jody Wilson-Raybould arrest "the Ivanka Trump of China"?  When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the arrest:

“The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case,” he told reporters. “We were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works but of course there was no engagement or involvement in the political level in this decision because we respect the independence of our judicial processes.”

If extradition isn't political, why was the Prime Minister informed in advance? Who were "the appropriate authorities"?  According to the Canadian Extradition Act, the only appropriate authority was the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.  Who is "them" in the PM's statement?  Did the PM think that Richard Donoghue or the American DOJ was the appropriate authority to decide a Canadian extradition case?  As I've pointed out a dozen times and a dozen different ways, the claim that in Canadian extradition law, "there is no engagement or involvement in the political level in this decision" is completely wrong.  It is easy to disprove the claim of the independence of the judicial processes in extradition cases with a quick click on the Canadian Extradition Act and 15 minutes of reading.  I think we can forgive the PM for not knowing the Canadian Extradition Act just days after (and before) Meng's arrest.  But what about Jody Wilson-Raybould?  What about the "free" and "independent" Canadian media which has been repeating or ignoring this falsehood for over two years now?

Who makes extradition decisions?  The Minister? Or "officials"?

Eleven days after Meng's arrest, Jody Wilson-Raybould issued a statement, in lockstep with the PM's misinformation, saying that "The decision to seek a provisional arrest warrant from the court is made by Department of Justice officials without any political interference or direction." I believe that it may be common practice for "Department of Justice officials" to seek an arrest warrant without necessarily consulting the Minister of Justice, but this was obviously no typical extradition case.  Moreover, what the law (The Extradition Act) specifies is:

Since Jody Wilson-Raybould was both Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the law specifies that Jody Wilson-Raybould "may" (she could have ignored or refused the request)  authorize herself "to apply for a provisional arrest warrant."  Nowhere does it say that DOJ officials were supposed to make the decision and keep Jody Wilson-Raybould out of the loop.

Why would Jody Wilson-Raybould pass the buck to underlings?

Why would Jody Wilson-Raybould duck her responsibilities as Minister of Justice?  Well, there was the SNC Lavalin case.   [Try explaining this to high-school students!]  We've already been there, but the short version is that the PMO had been putting pressure on JWR to break the law and give SNC Lavalin a pass on its various bribery crimes.  JWR resisted and was on the verge of being demoted out of Justice for her resistance when Meng was arrested.  

The combination of the laws governing Remediation Agreements (a new, Liberal version of Deferred Prosecution Agreements) and those governing the Public Prosecutors Office made it impossible for JWR to do what the PMO was asking without breaking the law.  The Extradition Act is the exact opposite in terms of the Minister getting involved.  The Act makes it the Minister's responsibility to investigate and make a decision.  Would the public understand this difference?  Did politicians know the difference?  Both Trudeau and Freeland have been very public in denying this distinction and insisting that extradition is a judicial and not a political decision--despite the explicit wording of the Act and the Supreme Court's ruling to confirm that extradition is an "executive"; i.e., political decision.

When Allen Rock, former Minister of Justice, was on Power and Politics to present the argument that Meng should be released, Vassy Kapelos asked him if he had ever intervened in an extradition case.  He hadn't.  I was struck by his response but then it occurred to me:  politicians are politicians.  Politicians don't like to get publicly involved in extradition cases because there is nothing for a politician to gain.  No matter what decision they make, they will be criticized by one quarter or another.  For a politician, it's always better to leave the impression that an extradition was decided by anonymous officials.

We shouldn't be too surprised that JWR decided not to take the heat and opted for "bureaucracy as usual" despite the obvious that this case was not "as usual." Someone from the PMO should have pointed out her power according to the law: 

Since the PMO and JWR were already at odds (not speaking to each other?) over SNC Lavalin, we can imagine that in the end no-one said anything.

Now what?

The atomic scientists who manage the Doomsday Clock point out that 

Unchecked internet disinformation could have even more drastic consequences in a nuclear crisis, perhaps leading to a nuclear war that ends world civilization. Disinformation efforts across communications systems are at this moment undermining responses to climate change in many countries. The need for deep thinking and careful, effective action to counter the effects of internet-enabled disinformation has never been clearer.

Are we at war with China?

The general Canadian public could be forgiven for imagining that we are already at war with China.  China has been accused of genocide in terms usually reserved for the Holocaust.  The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is being compared to the Third Reich and Xi Jinping to Hitler.  China is being accused of undermining Canadian sovereignty, intimidating Canadian citizens, taking over Canadian businesses, manipulating Canadian politicians, mistreating Canadian workers, arbitrarily imprisoning Canadians in China, infiltrating Canadian universities, cyber espionage, and stealing Canadian intellectual property.  What more do we need to know before going to war?

In addition to the rape, murder, sterilization, forced labour, and mass imprisonment of Uyghurs, China is overthrowing democracy in Hong Kong, threatening Taiwan, and illegally claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea.  The Chinese are using dystopian levels of surveillance of their own citizens, especially ethnic minorities. And the Chinese are responsible for the coronavirus which has spread around the world and killed millions.  What more do we need to know before going to war?

The Devil's advocate

Dare we consider a Chinese perspective and response?  Despite claims of "free speech" and "transparency," it has become common practice to denigrate and dismiss anyone who challenges the common Canadian discourse on China (and/or Meng). 

Here, at least, it is possible to play "devil's advocate." 

A response to terrorism?

There is no genocide taking place in Xinjiang.  Every neutral observer who has visited the region comes to this same conclusion.  China faced a terrorist threat in the region and, in comparison to the USA with its invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan killing a million Muslims, has responded with moderation and efficiency in dealing with religious extremism. As reported by  Colin Clarke and Paul Rexton Kan in “Uighur Foreign Fighters: An Underexamined Jihadist Challenge,” The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague 8, no. 5 (2017):

Uighurs, specifically individuals of Turkic descent from China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, have become a noticeable part of the constellation of globally active jihadist terror groups. Uighur jihadists first came to the world’s attention when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001. While continuing their cooperation with the Taliban under the banner of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Uighur jihadists have now spread to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. ETIM’s members are part of the Turkestan Islamic Party fighting with the Al-Qaeda umbrella group in Syria, but other Uighurs have joined IS in Syria and Iraq, and still others have joined local terror groups in Indonesia. 

China:  A multi-ethnic nation

China is home to twenty-six different ethnic groups.  While Western democracies have paid lip service to individual human rights as they practiced "systemic racism" and "white supremacy," over the last 30 years, China has raised 800 million of its citizens out of dire poverty--many from the ethnic minorities it is now being accused of mistreating.  As reported by the Brookings Institute, China's policies with regard to the Uyghur began in the 1990s, but only since China's economic power began to rival that of the USA have we heard any claim of genocide.


Hong Kong is part of China--not a distant island

Hong Kong is literally a stone's throw from the mainland and has always been part of China.  As a condition of losing the Opium Wars, whereby the British Empire forced China to accept imports of opium, China accepted that Hong Kong would remain a British colony for 99 years.  That period of 99 years expired in 1997 at which time China reclaimed sovereignty over Hong Kong while allowing it to operate as a distinct, autonomous region.  China was prepared to allow this situation to continue until demonstrations, protests, and riots broke out in Hong Kong.  Even after the demonstrators' demands were met and the new extradition act repealed, riots continued with demands for full, Western-style democracy.  China's allowing Hong Kong to, once again, become a Western colony is about as likely as the USA returning Texas to Mexico.  Logically, the continuing protests can only be understood as part of an American plan to destabilize the country and eventually overthrow the regime in Beijing.  The fact that Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations, had frequent meetings with Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, confirms this interpretation.

Security and surveillance

Yes, China uses CCTV to guard the security and safety of its citizens, just as is done in London, England, and in every major city in the world these days.  Chinese computer surveillance systems have been developed but they are nowhere near as widespread or invasive as the Anglo-American ECHELON system designed to intercept private and commercial communication all over the world, or the PRISM surveillance system used by the US National Security Agency to spy on US citizens as well as people around the world.  Chinese data collection is modest in comparison to that of American technology companies like Facebook and Google.

Education in Xinjiang

China believes that education is the key to equality.  As outlined in MA Rong's research on "The development of minority education and the practice of bilingual education in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," Uyghurs, traditionally, have the highest birth rate in China but  . . .

The development of an education system started late in Xinjiang, where there were only 525 college graduates and 593 high school graduates in 1957 (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Bureau of Statistics, 2006, p.519). In 2005, however, college enrollment reached 59 000,

And university enrollment of Uyghur both throughout China and abroad has continued to grow. 

Is Paid labour "forced labour"?

Uyghur workers are paid for their labour wherever they work.  On some occasions, they are required to work outside their home regions where their labour is needed but are paid wages that exceed what they would earn at home. Throughout its history, China has called upon its citizens and leaders of the Communist Party (including Xi Jinping) to work as manual labourers in the fields as a demonstration of equality, discipline, and solidarity.

The Arrest of two Canadians

There are only two possible explanations for China's arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and in both cases, Canada is to blame.  Either they are guilty of espionage (presumably on behalf of Canada) as the Chinese courts have alleged or, as is generally assumed in Western media, they have been imprisoned in retaliation for Canada's arrest of Meng--in which case Canada is guilty of having thrown the first punch.

Where's the truth?

Here's a Chinese joke I encountered on Quora.  A young Chinaman is at customs about to enter the USA.  The customs agent asks him, "Why are you entering the USA?"  The young man replies, "I'm here to study the new brainwashing techniques."  The agent responds angrily, "We don't have brainwashing in the USA, we're not like China!"  "Yes, yes, that's it," the young man answers, "that's what I'm here to study."

"The truth," it is commonly observed, "is always the first casualty of war."  In the claims and counter-claims about China, I don't know where the truth lies, but the more I investigate, the more I find the inflated and inflammatory rhetoric of Western mass media to be uncontextualized, weakly supported by evidence, and reckless.

The "Thucydides trap" denied

In Chaos Under Heaven, Josh Rogin claims that the "Thucydides trap" "theory doesn’t fit the US-China relationship." As Rogin rightly points out, there are many variables in the lead-up to war.  One weakness of the theory, according to Rogin, is that "it assumes that China's rise is inevitable."  In 2015, China's rise might have been an assumption, but in 2021 it seems an undeniable fact.  By what measure would it be possible to conclude that China has not risen to the level of a world power?

Rogin concludes: "The Thucydides Trap concept is interesting, but we shouldn’t base our strategy on it."  "Interesting" is what we academics say when we want to say nothing. Given that the subtitle of Rogin's monograph is  "the Battle for the 21st Century," what is the logic of claiming that as we concoct a strategy (for what?) we should not consider the possibility of a war?  No-one in their right mind wants a war and yet they keep happening.  The whole point of the Thucydides argument (as I've quoted above) is that it is possible to avoid a war.  We can reduce the risk of war by cooling down the rhetoric, by being empirical, logical, accurate, precise, transparent, well-informed, and measured--all the things that we are not doing and being now.  Simply denying any possibility of a war does not reduce the possibility of it happening.

How a hot war begins

I was ten when President Kennedy announced that Soviet ships bringing missiles to Cuba would result in a nuclear war.  In our town, we had a special siren to announce that nuclear bombs had been launched.  I vividly recall the day the siren sounded.  No, it wasn't a nuclear war, but some idiot thought we should test the system without bothering to inform ten-year-olds like me. Cuba is 103 miles from the USA.  Taiwan is 81 miles from China. While the USA continues to impose sanctions on Cuba; goods, services, and people move freely between Taiwan and China.  According to the Taiwanese government website: "Today, Taiwan is one of the biggest investors in China." However, China is ready to go to war to prevent a US-backed Taiwan from declaring independence.  At least one observer has pointed out that "A US War with China over Taiwan Would Be Foolish and Costly"--not to mention potentially nuclear and absurd because Taiwan and China seem to be getting along fine if not for US intervention.

Preparations for war

With relatively little notice being taken in Western media, both China and the USA are preparing for war.  The focus of preparations is the South China Sea.  In theory, the battle is between China and the Philippines over conflicting claims of territorial waters. The Philippines, like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada, is a pawn in the conflict between the USA and China.

Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific, warned that Chinese military developments looked to him like a nation planning for a war.

Davidson added that he believed China would attempt to forcibly reunify Taiwan "in the next six years." To guard against this possibility, Davidson asked Congress to provide a whopping $27 billion in additional funding over the current defense budget.

Ships and chips

It seems a historical motif that wars begin with the sinking of ships.  The sinking of the USSS Maine started the Spanish-American War, the sinking of the Lusitania brought the USA into WWI.  The Gulf of Tonkin incident led to a US escalation of the war in Vietnam. Everyone knows about the Japanese "surprise" attack on Pearl Harbour, but do people know why the Japanese attacked?  It wasn't a surprise.  In fact, it was quite predictable.  The USA had imposed sanctions on Japan, blocking the supply of oil while Japan was at war with China.  The Japanese had to destroy the blockade or lose the war with China.  These days, the equivalent of oil is computer chips, and the USA is doing all it can to block the supply of computer chips to China.  Taiwan is the world's largest manufacturer of computer chips.  The government of Taiwan is happy to continue with its "unofficial" independence and its sales of computer chips to China.  The USA seems to be the one more interested in Taiwan's "official" independence and in cutting off the supply of Taiwanese chips to Chinese companies.

More ships, more triggers

The USA has been conducting naval war games in the South China Sea displaying increases in firepower over the last three years.  In 2021, the USA began simulating Air-Force war games over Taiwan.

As if arresting Meng weren't enough, in the midst of ongoing tensions, the Canadian navy warship, HMS Calgary, crossed the South China Sea because it was the shortest route between A and B, and to show whose side we're on.

With the US canceling the nuclear treaty, Iran has begun to process high-grade uranium once again.  In the face of US sanctions, Iran has formed a closer alliance with China.  As reported in Haaretz, just as new treaty negotiations were getting underway (without US participation), Israeli forces attacked an Iranian cargo ship which had been anchored in the Red Sea for years.

Why blame Jody Wilson-Raybould?

Why blame Jody Wilson-Raybould?  Because I believe in the theory of chaos.  Each of us is the potential trigger of a future that we could not possibly imagine.  And history isn't fair.  From 1949, when the Communist Party of China took control, until 1970, China was treated as a global pariah by Western powers.  In 1973, Pierre Eliot Trudeau was the first Canadian Prime Minister and one of the first Western heads of state to visit China.  From that period until 2017, Canada's trade and diplomatic relations with China grew and improved steadily under both Conservative and Liberal governments, until the government of PM Justin Trudeau faced increasing criticism for becoming too friendly with China.  The Canadian arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Dec. 1, 2018, was an abrupt about-face from the last 48 years of our relations with China.  History will also mark that date as the day Canada was given the opportunity for another Lester B. Pearson moment, the opportunity to prove that Canada could be an independent peace-maker.  History will mark the day, in contrast to what might have been, as the moment when the channels for dialogue and negotiations between China and the West were broken, and Canada played a key role in the break.

To continue my Gavrilo Princip analogy, Richard Donoghue supplied the gun, but Jody Wilson-Raybould pulled the trigger.  Or, at least, she stood down from her responsibility as Minister of Justice, and let anonymous officials of the DOJ take responsibility for pulling the trigger.  In consequence, we face the absurdity of government leaders in two countries saving face with their constituencies by keeping a Chinese under house arrest in Canada and two Canadians in prison in China, the minor inconvenience of declining trade and economies, and 300,000 Canadians living in China put at risk while Chinese living in Canada face Anti-Asian hate crimes.  If the unimaginable worst-case scenario, which I have imagined here, happens, the question which will be asked:  "How did the Canadian Minister of Justice  allow it to happen over something so petty and remote as the allegation of a Chinese executive telling a fib to a Chinese banker in China?"

A Glimmer of hope

The Canadian justice bureaucracy continues to grind on in acquiescence to Richard Donoghue's dictates, meaning Meng and the two Michaels will, unless justice and common sense intervene, likely remain under arrest for another ten years. Richard Donoghue was replaced as Deputy Attorney General on January 20, 2021.  Donoghue has since disappeared from my internet radar.  However, his replacement, John Carlin, offered a glimmer of hope in the opening of his first public statement:

Before I begin, I’d like to address an important issue: the reports of horrific attacks on Asian Americans across the country.  I want to be clear here: No one in America should fear violence because of who they are of what they believe.  Period.  These types of attacks have no place in our society.  We will not tolerate any form of domestic terrorism or hate-based violent extremism, and we are committed to putting a stop to it.

We in the West need to be smart in our dealings with the superpower China has become.  Gross vilification of China and, "trickle-down," ignorant, myopic antagonism toward anyone who in Western eyes looks Asian is the opposite of smart.  

Addendum

"US Nuclear Fears Are Shifting From a Clear Russian Threat to a Murkier Chinese One"


Friday, 26 March 2021

On Reading "The Uyghur Genocide: An Examination of China's Breaches of the 1948 Genocide Convention"

 Apologist for China, Me?

In response to numerous posts I had written on Canada's arrest and detention of the Huawei CFO, Meng Wangzou, I was given friendly advice from a couple of sources that, in light of allegations of an Uyghur genocide,  I should not appear to be an apologist for China.  My immediate defense, even if unnecessary and unspoken, was that I had little or nothing to say about China.  My concern was Canada, what was in the best interest of Canada and Canadians.  As I've already said too many times on this blog, Canada's holding Meng for trial isn't moral or legal.  It isn't even strategic or advantageous from any Machiavellic realpolitik perspective.  It's just plain dumb. The only rationale which justifies her continued detention is the underlying, irrational fear that if we release her, the next day American tanks would come rolling across the border and Justin Trudeau would find himself sharing a cell with Manuel Noreiga.  Even in the Age of Trumpery, I had more respect for our southern neighbours than this.

Canada Declares a Genocide in China?

Despite my reluctance to comment, all the less so, to be an apologist for China; somehow China keeps becoming a Canadian story.  In January, the Canadian parliament passed a "non-binding" Conservative Party resolution declaring China's treatment of the Uyghurs a genocide.  Here is the resolution in full:


January 25, 2021 — Mr. O’Toole (Durham) — That,
(a) in the opinion of the House, the People's Republic of China has engaged in actions consistent with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 260, commonly known as the "Genocide Convention", including detention camps and measures intended to prevent births as it pertains to Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims; and
(b) given that (i) where possible, it has been the policy of the Government of Canada to act in concert with its allies when it comes to the recognition of a genocide, (ii) there is a bipartisan consensus in the United States where it has been the position of two consecutive administrations that Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims are being subjected to a genocide by the Government of the People's Republic of China, the House, therefore, recognize that a genocide is currently being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, and call on the government to officially adopt this position.




Because Mike Pompeo Said So . . .

I found the justification that 'this is what they are doing in the United States' less than satisfying.  All the more so because the original American genocide declaration was more officious than official--with Mike Pompeo making the declaration 24 hours before the end of the Trump presidency and his tenure as Secretary of State. However, as various media have reported, the incoming Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, has expressed his agreement with Pompeo's declaration.

An "Independent " Report


The Uyghur Genocide and Reclaiming Power and Place

Who wrote The Uyghur Genocide?

Newslines Institue, Fairfax University and Fethullah Gulen

[ . . . ] a "visa mill" rather than a legitimate educational institution. [ . . .] a sham operation where an institution "offers little by way of educational value," but instead lures international students through its ability to offer access to student and work visas, while exploiting them by charging exorbitant tuition costs.  

The report attempts to construct an appearance of broad expert consensus supporting its conclusions, including a list of 33 “independent expert” signatories. Unsurprisingly, this list consists of individuals pushing for a New Cold War and confrontation with China, and who support separatist efforts to transform the mineral-rich, geopolitically important region of Xinjiang into a NATO-oriented ethno-state [. . .]

Where is the United Nations?

The Uyghur Genocide is a legal brief

The Burden of Proof

The report promises to apply "a clear and convincing standard of proof."  To understand this promise, it is necessary to consult the accompanying footnote, which links to a website entitled Standards of Proof in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Fact-Finding and Inquiry Missions which outlines four levels of "standard of proof."  Level three is: 

Clear and convincing evidence. Very solid support for the finding; significantly more evidence supports the finding and limited information suggests the contrary. (60%.) Classic expression is it is clear that.

Feedback Loop

The Uyghur Genocide claims that:

The repeated explicit Government orders (described below) to “eradicate tumors,” “wipe them out completely … destroy them root and branch,” “round up everyone,” “show absolutely no mercy,” “break their roots,” and eliminate “risks within risks, hidden dangers in hidden dangers,” combined with corresponding State practice, belie the purported security goals by targeting any and all members of the Uyghur population.

I attempted to trace the source of these quotations and confirm that they were, in fact, "repeated explicit Government orders."  It has taken me longer to read the 50-page Uyghur report, with its 317 footnotes/hyperlinks than it took me to read the 1550-page Canadian report on Indigenous women.  Almost invariably, the sources of these quotations (above) were newspaper articles or someone else's report. This approach contradicts the rules of evidence but what struck me more was that it has created a feedback loop.  The report was using the media as its source; then the media was using the report as a source.  The effect of the loop, this circulation within a closed circle, is repetition--rather than investigation--of information and escalation of the rhetoric even without new evidence or sources.

Are the sources biased?

No-one should criticize a journalist for writing passionately about human-rights abuses.  However, quoting a journalist who has written a string of such articles as legal evidence is problematic.  If you do an advanced google search of "eradicate tumours" (to include China and eliminate cancer), you get 215 hits. But what does "eradicate tumours" mean?  How should we interpret this expression out of any context?  It sounds like the government has given "repeated, explicit orders" to eradicate Uyghurs, doesn't it?  The phrase "eradicate tumours" is used seven times in the report: once in the table of contents, once as a heading, twice in a footnote and three times in the text, but never in a complete sentence to give it context.  

In order to understand where "eradicate tumours" comes from it is necessary to click on a link in the footnote which leads to an AFP [Agence France-Presse] article by Ben Dooley in which he reports:

Teams like the one sent to Akeqie Kanle from the Bingtuan Broadcast Television University (BBTU)

 [ . . . .]

"The work team is resolute," BBTU's publicity department boasted on social media in an unusual public accounting of the dark side of a work team's operations. "We can completely take the lid off Akeqie Kanle, look behind the curtain, and eradicate its tumours."

Akeqie Kanle is, according to Dooley, a village of 500, and over 100 of its residents have been removed to detention or re-education camps. In the above cluster of mixed metaphors, it is still difficult to interpret an exact meaning for "eradicate its tumours."  The metaphor is in keeping with a theme in Chinese government discourse describing religious extremism as a disease.  The phrase used by "BBTU's publicity department [. . .] on social media" does not appear to rise to the level of "repeated explicit Government orders." It certainly does not mean "eradicate all Uyghurs," as the phrase "eradicate tumours" seems to suggest when used out of context.

China's 9/11

China’s attempts to justify its policies in XUAR  [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] as a war against extremism, terrorism, or separatism do not absolve the State of responsibility for genocide. These policies primarily target Southern XUAR, where Uyghurs constitute approximately 90 percent of the population [. . . .]

Xinjiang is bordered by eight countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. In my sporadic review of The Xinjiang Victims Database, it appears that various ethnicities are being targeted, especially Kazakhs, and anyone who frequently crosses the border.

Although Newslines' report dismisses the Chinese justification of "a war against extremism, terrorism, or separatism," many of the report's uncontextualized quotations come from a New York Times article in which Chinese officials are being quoted at the height of terrorist attacks in 2014. "Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims" is the most comprehensive and balanced account I have encountered since beginning to research this subject.

From the New York Times

According to the NYT article, "The current crackdown began after a surge of anti-government and anti-Chinese violence, including ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital."  In April 2014, "Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31." The same year, "two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally," and "assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39."  

Based on leaked documents, published alongside the article, the NYT claimed:

Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Mr. Xi delivered a series of secret speeches setting the hard-line course that culminated in the security offensive now underway in Xinjiang. While state media have alluded to these speeches, none were made public. 

Terrorist attacks abroad and the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan heightened the leadership’s fears and helped shape the crackdown. Officials argued that attacks in Britain resulted from policies that put “human rights above security,” and Mr. Xi urged the party to emulate aspects of America’s “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.

According to the NYT article, President Xi

traced the origins of Islamic extremism in Xinjiang to the Middle East, and warned that turmoil in Syria and Afghanistan would magnify the risks for China. Uighurs had traveled to both countries, he said, and could return to China as seasoned fighters seeking an independent homeland, which they called East Turkestan.  [ . . .] and urged officials to study how Americans responded to the Sept. 11 attacks.

"After the United States pulls troops out of Afghanistan, terrorist organizations positioned on the frontiers of Afghanistan and Pakistan may quickly infiltrate into Central Asia,” Mr. Xi said. “East Turkestan’s terrorists who have received real-war training in Syria and Afghanistan could at any time launch terrorist attacks in Xinjiang."

In several surprising passages, given the crackdown that followed, Mr. Xi also told officials to not discriminate against Uighurs and to respect their right to worship. He warned against overreacting to natural friction between Uighurs and Han Chinese, the nation’s dominant ethnic group, and rejected proposals to try to eliminate Islam entirely in China.

Freedom of religion is provided for in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, yet with a caveat: the government controls what it calls "normal religious activity," defined in practice as activities that take place within government-sanctioned religious organizations and registered places of worship.

According to the Wikipedia article on Religion in China:

The government formally recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam. In the early twenty-first century there has been increasing official recognition of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion as part of China's cultural inheritance.

According to The Uyghur Genocide, the destruction of mosques is significant, physical evidence of the suppression of Islam.

It is estimated that approximately 16,000 mosques in XUAR, or 65 percent of the total, have been destroyed or damaged due to government policies, largely since 2017, with 8,500 mosques completely demolished. 

Eugenics

The report [The Uyghur Genocide] relies most substantially on the “expertise” of Adrian Zenz, the far-right evangelical ideologue, whose “scholarship” on China has been demonstrated to be deeply flawed, riddled with falsehoods and dishonest statistical manipulation. 

"Rape, torture and human experiments. Sayragul Sauytbay offers firsthand testimony from a Xinjiang 'reeducation' camp"

Among the many newspaper articles referenced in The Uyghur Genocide is one published by Haaretz (a newspaper promising all the news on Israel and Jews around the world) with the lengthy title: "A Million People Are Jailed at China's Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here's What Really Goes on Inside."  The article is based on a series of interviews with Sayragul Sauytbay, a Kazakh, and "a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden."  By her account, Sauytbay was forced to teach Mandarin in one of the camps where she encountered evidence of "rape, torture and human experiments."  She was able to cross the border from China into Kazakhstan illegally.  In Kazakhstan, she requested asylum, but her request was refused by the Kazakh court.  She then escaped to Sweden.


In response to Sayragul's receiving the award, the Global Times claimed that

According to information from the Xinjiang regional government, Sayragul applied for a 10-year-term repayment loan of 200,000 yuan using forged guarantee materials and guarantor's signature from a rural credit cooperative at Chahanwusu town in June 2015, and currently still owes 149,000 yuan from the loan. 

In December 2016, she applied for another 10-year loan of 270,000 yuan using a fabricated purchase contract, of which she still owes 249,000 yuan. She is facing charges of loan fraud, according to China's Criminal Law.

Sayragul illegally crossed the border and went to Kazakhstan from the China-Kazakhstan Horgas International Border Cooperation Center on April 5, 2018. 
"Sayragul claimed that she graduated from medical university and used to be a doctor. But the truth is, she had studied in the nursery class of Xinjiang Ili Health School, and has no working experience as a doctor. She never worked in any vocational education and training center at all," said the spokesperson.

The Chief Witness

Recently, Sayragul published a book entitled The Chief Witness, which is summarized as follows:

Born in China’s north-western province, Sayragul Sauytbay trained as a doctor before being appointed a senior civil servant. But her life was upended when the Chinese authorities incarcerated her. Her crime: being Kazakh, one of China’s ethnic minorities.
The north-western province borders the largest number of foreign nations and is the point in China that is the closest to Europe. In recent years it has become home to over 1,200 penal camps — modern-day gulags that are estimated to house three million members of the Kazakh and Uyghur minorities. Imprisoned solely due to their ethnicity, inmates are subjected to relentless punishment and torture, including being beaten, raped, and used as subjects for medical experiments. The camps represent the greatest systematic incarceration of an entire people since the Third Reich.
In prison, Sauytbay was put to work teaching Chinese language, culture, and politics, in the course of which she gained access to secret information that revealed Beijing’s long-term plans to undermine not only its minorities, but democracies around the world. Upon her escape to Europe she was reunited with her family, but still lives under the constant threat of reprisal. This rare testimony from the biggest surveillance state in the world reveals not only the full, frightening scope of China’s tyrannical ambitions, but also the resilience and courage of its author.

By her account in Haaretz, she was a language teacher in the camp.  She offers no explanation of how she came to witness medical experiments.  In the article, her knowledge of medicine seems very limited and she offers no examples of having used her medical knowledge while in the camp.   There is no evidence to support the hyperbole that "being Kazakh" would be considered a crime in China.  The estimates of  "1,200 penal camps" and "three million" detainees are the highest numbers I have heard so far.  Of course, we must wonder how Sauytay, a closely guarded prisoner according to her description, would manage to gain "access to secret information that revealed Beijing's long-term plans to undermine not only its minorities but democracies around the world." References to "gulags," "concentration camps," "penal camps," and the "Third Reich" are, I suppose, an expected result of the "feedback loop."  Sayragul Sauytbay's being "the chief witness" is belied by multiple witness statements on The Xinjiang Victims Database.

Who Benefits?

Reading The Uyghur Genocide, I asked the same question I asked in my reading of  Reclaiming Power and Place.  Who benefits?  I doubted that the Canadian report and the claim that murdered Indigenous women and girls were victims of acts of genocide were helpful to current and future generations of young Indigenous women.  Will Western proclamations of genocide benefit the Uyghur in China?  

Will declarations of genocide further the goal of an independent Turkic-Muslim state and an eventual civil war which, according to Chinese sources, the current policies are designed to prevent?  Will Western genocide proclamations cause China to change its human-rights policies?  Can Western democracies successfully threaten China into changing politically?



Chaos under Heaven and "the Thucydides Trap"

In Chaos under Heaven, Josh Rogin describes the Trump "China team" as divided into at least three factions:  the super-hawks who viewed China as an enemy and were determined to destroy the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), the hawks who view China as a competitor, and the "Wall-Street clique," Trump's billionaire buddies who saw China as an opportunity.  Claims of genocide seem to align with the ambitions of the super-hawks and the goal of a new Cold War.  I fail to see another Cold War as a desirable objective. In some quarters, ideology makes a Cold War inevitable, but the same ideology rarely considers the historical evidence (the Thucydides Trap) that cold wars usually lead to hot wars.

The trickle-down effect

What was the intention of the O'Toole genocide resolution?  To win points with the Canadian electorate?  To align with American super-hawks?  Excuse my cynicism, but I find it hard to imagine that the Canadian Conservative Party is driven by compassion for the world's Muslims.

Who benefits from the Conservative proclamation?  Certainly not Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor, who are currently on trial in China.  What about the 300,000 other Canadians now living in China?  In August 2019, the Ottawa Citizen reported Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada says that “Canada has not considered any special program for Uyghurs.”  Have the Conservatives lobbied for some change here?

These days there are regular reports of anti-Asian hate crimes, but I have yet to read any recognition that these attacks are the trickle-down effect of China-bashing by Western politicians and journalists. 

See https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/04/19/canadian-target-of-miles-guo-and-steve-bannon-protest-group-says-family-is-still-living-in-fear-as-criminal-case-gets-underway-in-brutal-beating-of-his-friend.html

The Conservative Party, in particular, seems to have trouble deciding where it stands on China and the Chinese.  "On 22 June 2006, newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in the House of Commons" for Canada's historical mistreatment of the Chinese. In 2014,

Harper met with both President Hu and Premier Wen, and signed a number of economic agreements that had been prepared by Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird including a uranium export treaty, and the Canada-China Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments Agreement (CCPRPIA), which was linked by the media to (further) potential Chinese investment in the Athabasca oil sands, and had been negotiated for eighteen years. The negotiations and the text itself were kept secret until November 2016. Chinese officials suggested that the next logical step would be a free trade agreement, which Canadian officials promised to study.

In his blog, August 6, 2005,  Andrew Scheer, who would be Harper's successor as leader of the Conservatives, mocked the choice of Adrienne Clarkson, a Chinese-Canadian, as Canada's Governor-General.  And this year, Erin O'Toole accuses China of genocide while it remains Canada's second-largest trading partner.

Conclusion

Addendum

Twenty-four hours after I published the remark (above) that I had yet to read of any recognition between China-bashing and anti-Asian hate crimes, The Globe and Mail published Doug Saunder's opinion piece, "Confronting China requires us to be precise," which discusses this connection.

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