Evidence of meeting #11 for Canada-China Relations in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was kong.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael C. Davis  Professor, Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center, Columbia University
Benedict Rogers  Co-founder and Chair, Hong Kong Watch
Cheuk Kwan  Immediate Past Chair, Toronto Association for Democracy in China
Avvy Yao-Yao Go  Barrister and Solicitor, Board Member, Toronto Association for Democracy in China and Clinic Director, Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Annie Boyajian  Director of Advocacy, Freedom House
Samuel M. Chu  Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council
Jerome A. Cohen  Professor and Faculty Director Emeritus, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law

1:55 p.m.

Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Samuel M. Chu

I think there are two particular factors. I think that the ongoing protest, the fact that it has lasted now, in the public eye, under international watch, for 13 months, meant that what is happening now in Hong Kong created a direct threat to the stability of their control overall in China. The second thing is that, again, what we've done is create a global intervention at this point. I think those are the two things that make things particularly threatening to Xi.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you.

Mr. Bergeron, you have the floor for two and a half minutes.

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

I am going to pick up on the question from Mr. Fragiskatos.

Mr. Chu, was the national security law passed simply because the government of Hong Kong ended up not passing the extradition legislation?

1:55 p.m.

Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Samuel M. Chu

I think this goes beyond that. This is partly a reaction to.... This was not the first attempt last year. It was not the first attempt for them to implement an extradition or security law. This has happened before.

What is different and what goes even further, another feature that's very scary in the national security law, is that there is now a Chinese security office on the ground operating in Hong Kong directly, outside of the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong government. I think what you're seeing is that this is one step further than just national security or extradition. This is now de facto Chinese enforcing and charging and investigating “crimes” directly with Chinese security forces, rather than having any involvement in the Hong Kong government.

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chu.

In the first section of this meeting, a good part of our discussions focused on the integrity of Hong Kong's legal system under the national security legislation. Is the fact that Hong Kong's director of public prosecutions has resigned not evidence that the Hong Kong system has moved completely under the control of the People's Republic of China?

Let me put the question first to Mr. Cohen.

1:55 p.m.

Professor and Faculty Director Emeritus, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law

Jerome A. Cohen

I think we have not given sufficient attention to the resignation of the director of public prosecutions. Here he is, the most important official for deciding who gets prosecuted in Hong Kong, and he's not even allowed to know what they're going to do about prosecutions under the new national security law. I don't blame him for resigning.

His boss, the secretary of the department of justice, is a very nice, able person, but she's a commercial lawyer who is an expert on arbitration. I arbitrated a case where I asked her to be the chief arbitrator. She's not an expert on criminal justice.

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you, Professor.

1:55 p.m.

Professor and Faculty Director Emeritus, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law

Jerome A. Cohen

Decisions are being made by the security people from Beijing.

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you, Professor.

Thank you very much, Mr. Bergeron.

Mr. Harris, you have the floor for two minutes and 30 seconds.

2 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses again.

I want to ask a question that all three of you can respond to, because you're all U.S.-based, although Professor Cohen spends a lot of time elsewhere as well, and so does Mr. Chu, of course.

The U.S. motivations have sometimes been questioned in terms of aggressiveness toward China in recent months and the last year. They are motivated by trade considerations, by commercial considerations, the politics of the president in an election year, combatting the rise of China in the world and its influence in the world, etc. There's even talk of a new cold war.

I want to ask the question, because that affects some people's attitude towards this. How should Canada act towards China in a way that essentially distinguishes itself from some of these considerations, which are fairly obvious to us because we're so close, but may not be obvious to other parts of the world? How do we act vigorously and importantly without being caught up into any of these other motivations?

Ms. Boyajian, you haven't spoken yet in response to me, so I'll let you go first.

2 p.m.

Director of Advocacy, Freedom House

Annie Boyajian

Sure.

I would just say that regardless of who is in control, our position at Freedom House is that trade and security and human rights are inextricably linked. There was a lot of “business as usual” across presidential administrations in the U.S., be it under Bush or Obama. No matter who the leader is—of course, you don't want to act willy-nilly and escalate things unnecessarily—human rights should be a major consideration, and especially now with the escalation of the national security law. As I mentioned, we have seen growing efforts by the Chinese government to export repression—

2 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Thank you.

2 p.m.

Director of Advocacy, Freedom House

2 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Can we get Professor Cohen in on this, please?

2 p.m.

Professor and Faculty Director Emeritus, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law

Jerome A. Cohen

I think we'll be in a very dangerous period until the American election is successfully concluded. It's obvious that the Trump people are exploiting China now in a way to get him re-elected. It's the reverse of what Nixon did in 1972. He exploited China to have a favourable change in our relations with China, following what Prime Minister Trudeau did in October 1970. Now we're going in the wrong direction. I think that after the election, if things go well, we will have an improvement, a more balanced China policy.

The danger now is throwing out the baby with the bath.

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you very much, Professor.

Thank you, Mr. Harris.

That concludes the time we have. I want to thank our witnesses. I know that all members are deeply grateful to all of you for appearing.

I want to let members know that we are working on a possible 10:30 a.m. eastern start on Monday in order to give time to deal with the motions that Mr. Genuis mentioned earlier. If that's agreed to by the whips, it will appear on the notice of meeting for Monday's meeting. We can't do it at three o'clock because another committee is starting at three o'clock on Monday. That's the situation.

Mr. Genuis, is it on that point?

2 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Yes. As these are substantive motions that are not dealing with witnesses, I would suggest that these discussions be in public. That's where we began the discussion on the motions, so I would suggest that. It facilitates the transition as well.

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

That actually would be my expectation, although we will have to pause, of course, for the sound checks and so forth, as members will understand.

August 13th, 2020 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Thank you.

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Again, I'd like to thank especially our witnesses. I'd also like to thank all the technicians and the analysts, our wonderful clerk, and everyone else who supported this meeting.

The meeting is adjourned.