Madam Speaker, I am splitting my time with the member for Avalon.
I consider it an honour to offer a few thoughts on this debate, and I appreciate it being brought forward onto the floor of the House today. May I say, as a starting proposition, that I regard the government of China as an asymmetrical, existential threat to Canada unlike any of our other potential opposition. I also take the view that we, as Canadians, are exceedingly naive about the ambitions of the Communist Party of China, and I also take the view that the Chinese government knows a great deal more about us than we know about it.
I thought it would be helpful if I went through my week and talked about the various times this issue had come up. This week was science meets Parliament, and I had an absolutely fascinating conversation with a scientist from the University of Toronto who is a leading scientist on the CRISPR technology for gene editing and gene splicing. He was brilliant. It was fascinating, and the mind leaps to all kinds of possibilities; however, on second thought, not all of these possibilities are to the betterment of humankind.
When I asked the scientist about Chinese involvement, he said that this was open source technology and that there was an exchange of research, but I got the distinct impression that the knowledge flow seemed to be one way. We are in a situation where Canadian brains and Canadian taxpayers' money funds leading-edge research and someone else benefits. Then, the someone else who benefits turns it into commercial technology and sells it back to us. It is not a happy cycle. This is a serious, serious issue in the academic community.
Second, last night was Taiwan Night at the Chateau Laurier. I cannot imagine that anyone walked away from that evening thinking that the Ukrainian issue was anything other than the number one threat to the disturbance of world order. I can also not imagine that anyone would walk away from that night not thinking that a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan was anything other than the number two threat to world order. This is our eleventh largest trading partner, and fifth largest trading partner in Asia. It shows that this is a threat that we think is kind of over there, but in fact it is quite relevant to us.
I just point out as an illustration the speed with which the independence of Hong Kong was simply rolled up, regardless of the millions of Hong Kongers who took to the street to protest their rights and their freedoms, which have now effectively been lost. Can we be so naive as to think that the Chinese government wants to do the same thing in Taiwan?
The third item was the election of yet another Marcos in the Philippines. The name Marcos stands for infamy and for rapacious greed. The Marcos family, over the generations, has looted the Philippines of its wealth and then sold off the assets to the highest bidder. China must be delighted with that outcome. No longer is it going to be challenged on building a military island in the South China Sea, nor is it going to be challenged by the severely outgunned Philippine navy in the South China Sea. This is simply a terrific outcome, as far as China is concerned.
The fourth incident just this week was that I had a conversation with someone who everyone in this chamber would know, and his comment was, “China does not regard Canada as a serious player.” This was in the context of how we take care of our own security, and the multiplicity of covert and overt intrusions into Canadian society and life by the Government of China.
Regarding the fifth incident, members will know that last week there was an opportunity to speak with the governments in exile from Tibet. Some members here might even have Tibetan interns working with them. Does anyone actually believe that Tibet is a free and independent country? That is perfectly the way the Chinese government likes it.
Sixth, it is my intention next week to initiate debate on Bill S-211, which was alluded to by my friend. The simple summary of the bill is that Canadian companies and governments would have to examine their supply chains and certify they are free of forced labour. This week, I was asked by one of my colleagues about solar panels being sold in Canada, and whether either the panels or components were infected by slavery. The concerning answer is that there is a strong likelihood they were.
The day before that, I was in a conversation with one of Canada's leading journalists, and he asserted that 90% of the cotton products coming out of Xinjiang are produced by slaves, likely Uighurs.
That was just my week. That is the concern that Canadians are expressing to me in various forms.
I would also commend to the House's attention a book I just finished by Peter Frankopan, a professor from Oxford, called The New Silk Roads. In it, the author outlines all of the initiatives around the world the Chinese government has taken with respect to the new silk roads. The fly cover says:
All roads used to lead to Rome. Today they lead to Beijing.... In the age of Brexit and Trump, the West is buffeted by the tides of isolationism and fragmentation. Yet to the East, this is a moment of optimism as a new network of relationships takes shape along ancient trade routes.
It is a very clear-eyed analysis of what is going on in the world, literally under our noses. We naturally look to our American colleagues for leadership, but as many have rightly pointed out, the American leadership is fractured along partisan lines and self-consumed by difficulties within its political orbit.
Some of the deals that have been consummated under the silk road initiative have been disastrous for many other countries. One of the classic examples of this is Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was dominated by the greedy and kleptocratic government run by the Rajapaksa family, which indebted the nation through vanity projects and then was forced to sell off the country's assets at discounted prices.
As I wind up, I want to thank my colleagues for bringing this debate forward. It is a serious debate, and it is something that needs to take place. I therefore will be supporting the idea of a standing committee.