Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I invite the witnesses to choose their preferred language for interpretation if they are not able to understand what I am going to say in French. I would also like to thank them for their important contribution to the work of this committee.
We are seeking to do an in-depth study on China-Canada relations and so the question of Hong Kong is of great importance for us, not only because it has an effect on Taiwan, as Mr. Williamson pointed out, but also because Canada is a member of the Commonwealth. In that context, the violation of the joint declaration by the government of China concerns us, as, in the Second World War, Canada saw a number of its sons perish during the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong. So the future of Hong Kong is very important to us, and the reason why we are very specifically focusing on the current situation.
During the current health crisis, we have seen criticisms of Xi Jinping, even inside the People's Republic of China. Many hold the view that he is the president who has the greatest grip on power since Mao Zedong himself, and we are asking ourselves a number of questions.
For those of you who had the opportunity to hear the first part of this meeting, we have a kind of dilemma with welcoming activists to Canada. By welcoming a large number of those activists, are we going to weaken the democracy movement on the ground in Hong Kong?
The issue of sanctions raises another dilemma. A number of people think that sanctions would have the effect of weakening Xi Jinping's grip on the People's Republic of China and its people. Others, however, think that sanctions could reinforce the feeling of Chinese nationalism and strengthen Xi Jinping's power over the People's Republic of China and its people.
I would like to hear what the witnesses think about that tough old dilemma, starting with Ms. Boyajian. Can sanctions have effects that are more detrimental than desirable for the objectives that Western democracies are seeking, specifically with regard to Hong Kong?