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

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Chu, I'm going to make a few statements [Technical difficulty--Editor].

In your opinion, have I now violated China/Beijing's, national security law, making me a potential problem for the PRC?

1:10 p.m.

Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Samuel M. Chu

The screen froze for a few seconds. You're having a lot of difficulty technically, so I only got the very last part. Could you repeat the first part?

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

“I support a democratic China.”

“I believe the PRC should embrace democracy.”

1:10 p.m.

Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Samuel M. Chu

Welcome to the club of international fugitives.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Yes.

1:10 p.m.

Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Samuel M. Chu

You've demonstrated that. We're half joking, but I think the implication here is that having this hearing, talking about any kind of Canadian policy toward Hong Kong and China that involves sanctions over human rights violations particularly, is apparently something that will trigger.... I think, in your case, it might start with sanctions, but definitely under the national security law, you would now be subject to arrest.

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

All right. I regret that unless things change, you will not be able to visit your ancestral home again, nor potentially even talk to your grandparents.

I had the pleasure of living in Hong Kong during the handover in 1997 and 1998, and I have experienced the freedoms there, both initially under the colonial rule as well as under the Sino-British agreement and the Basic Law. It is clear that much has changed, owing to Beijing's heavy-handedness.

Ms. Boyajian, if you were a foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, what are some of the things you would recommend that the Canadian government do, both to aid the people of Hong Kong and to prepare to safeguard the freedoms currently enjoyed in Taiwan or the Republic of China?

1:10 p.m.

Director of Advocacy, Freedom House

Annie Boyajian

I think it's critical for Prime Minister Trudeau to impose meaningful penalties on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who have committed rights violations. We have already seen this be very effective in the United States. China's prickly response can tell you how effective it was. That response would be all the stronger if Canada deployed the Canadian version of the Magnitsky Law.

I think it's also critical to conduct a careful review of imports and exports. Anything coming from mainland China or Hong Kong made with slave labour should be prohibited. In the U.S. we have something that is currently pending called the Uyghur forced labor prevention act that creates a rebuttable presumption, meaning that, if a product is coming from Xinjiang, we assume that it's made with slave labour and companies have to prove otherwise. That sort of model would be an excellent one.

We also think it's critical to mitigate, prepare for and respond to the risks facing Canadians not only in Hong Kong, but also Canadians who live in Canada and are working on human rights issues, so that if we start to see politically motivated arrests in Hong Kong, we are ready to evacuate people quickly and insist that they have consular access and be protected from torture.

I think it's also very important, now that information is cut off, that you continue to seek information from actual Hong Kongers. There are some great diaspora groups. I commend you all for bringing so many excellent diaspora folks to the committee already, but I have been asked by Hong Kongers to convey to you excellent work by the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. I'm told they have a deep understanding of CCP infiltration in Canada.

Lastly, I think it's critical for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to go ahead and conduct that review of whether CGTN/CCTN have violated operations—and transparency requirements for Chinese media would be good as well.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you.

Are you able to speak to Taiwan at all? Is that in your bailiwick?

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Answer very briefly.

1:15 p.m.

Director of Advocacy, Freedom House

Annie Boyajian

On Taiwan—and I'm sure Professor Cohen will have more to say—we are concerned. I heard the previous panel say that they think it is next. With things like the Chinese government trying to bully Taiwan out of multilateral institutions, as we've seen with the World Health Organization, for example, we should respond forcefully and not allow them to happen.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you very much, Ms. Boyajian and Mr. Williamson.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Chair, I have a point.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

I think you will see that I did adjust your time a bit. You're timing it yourself, I believe. I did try to add some time. I hope it's—

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

It looked like I was down 50 seconds before you started to—

August 13th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

I don't think so, but at any rate, I do have to make sure that all members have their chance to ask their questions and get the time they have.

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Very well.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

I'm trying to manage all of that. I don't think we have Professor Cohen back yet, but hopefully we will shortly for the benefit of witnesses.

Now we go on to Mr. Oliphant for six minutes, please.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank all of the witnesses. I believe Mr. Cohen said earlier that we have had some pretty exceptional witnesses today.

Again, I want to thank the clerk and the analysts for organizing this in such a thoughtful way.

I want to begin with Freedom House and Ms. Boyajian. I'm a big fan and use your your scorecards and your ratings extensively in my work in Africa and around the world, so thank you.

Noting the sanction that has been placed on your president, Mr. Abramowitz, has this ever happened before? Has a country sanctioned you or your organization before for this activity?

1:15 p.m.

Director of Advocacy, Freedom House

Annie Boyajian

This is the first time Freedom House and the first time Mr. Abramowitz have been sanctioned. Those sanctions are unspecified. As I mentioned, last December we were slapped with organizational sanctions by the CCP, as were several other American organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, the IRI and NDI.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Thank you.

I've been watching the sanction ping-pong going on with China/Beijing sanctioning 11 American citizens, and then Mr. Trump sanctioning 11 Chinese. It's going back and forth.

Do those sanctions that were imposed by Mr. Trump have teeth? Are they going to work, or would it be more appropriate to have those done multilaterally because of where people hold their assets, and what could be done?

What would your recommendation be?

1:15 p.m.

Director of Advocacy, Freedom House

Annie Boyajian

Doing it multilaterally is always better. The more countries that do it, the better, but these are very effective targeted sanctions. Similar to your own Magnitsky Law, these block visas of the sanctioned individuals so they cannot come to the U.S., and they also freeze any U.S.-based assets they have.

What is critical to this being so effective is that countries around the world look to the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Treasury and U.S. financial institutions, and, if we put a freeze order in place, what we often see is a domino effect around the world so that EU states, the U.K. and others won't allow those individuals access to any funds they have in their accounts as well.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

That's something we're going to have to consider in this committee.

Mr. Chu, thank you for your ongoing work and courage, and for being with us today. I'm looking at the extraterritorial effects of the national security act, and obviously we're beginning to see how they play out. You mentioned the restrictions on your travelling to Hong Kong, your concerns about talking to your parents and about travelling to countries that have ongoing extradition agreements with China.

How do you find out information about where those extradition agreements are and whether they would be effected or not?

1:20 p.m.

Founding and Managing Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Samuel M. Chu

HKDC has been part of a much larger global coalition that has been pushing. We thank the Prime Minister's government for suspending the extradition treaty between Canada and Hong Kong.

I think the design of it is to have a dark cloud, because there is not a lot of clarity in a lot of regions and countries. They do not spell things out specifically. In the case of the U.S., for example, even within the U.S. extradition treaty with Hong Kong, there is very specific wording and language that says that any politically motivated charges would not be recognized or accepted and that extradition to Hong Kong should never be used as a vehicle for a country, in this case the Chinese government, to do extradition via Hong Kong as an entity.

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

That's understood.