Delivery workers sort parcels for their customers in Beijing, China on “Singles Day,” a holiday that has grown into the world’s busiest day for e-commerce, Nov. 11, 2016. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)Delivery workers sort parcels for their customers in Beijing, China on “Singles Day,” a holiday that has grown into the world’s busiest day for e-commerce, Nov. 11, 2016. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)

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Kina, the world’s largest e-commerce market, counts more than 400 million online shoppers even as half the country remains offline, but eager Canadian businesses face significant hurdles to gain market share.

Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com are making a big push in Canada trying to get more Canadian businesses to join their platforms and sell to the Chinese.

Alibaba’s billionaire chairman Jack Ma will be making his pitch to Canadian business—alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—at an event in Toronto called “Gateway 17” on Sept. 25.

The Toronto Region Board of Trade hosted JD.com in July for a business roundtable with more than 50 Canadian companies.

Canadian products have an excellent reputation in China. The growing Chinese middle class is leery of cheap Chinese goods and values the quality of Canada’s manufacturing and pristine environment for agro-food products.

More broadly, China is undergoing a lengthy transformation from an investment-oriented economy to a consumption-based one—away from heavy industry and toward the service sector. E-commerce has a vital role to play in the Chinese government’s strategy.

“E-commerce platforms are really helping to standardize market access in China to people of all income groups, which is an important priority in China,” said Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, in a phone interview.

Reasons for Concern

E-commerce might simplify certain aspects of doing business in China, but pervasive challenges like lack of rule of law and intellectual property (IP) violations are but a couple of the difficulties foreign businesses face.

OSS. President Donald Trump initiated a probe into China’s IP theft, which is estimated to be responsible for between 50 og 80 percent of all IP violations that harm the U.S. økonomi, ifølge IP Commission Report. den US-. Chamber of Commerce estimates 86 percent of all counterfeit goods come from China and Hong Kong.

Bottles of wine from Clear Lake Wineries, an export operation of Ontario wines to China. (Courtesy Mary Whittle)

Bottles of wine from Clear Lake Wineries, an export operation of Ontario wines to China. (Courtesy Mary Whittle)

“A lot of product on Alibaba is counterfeit. Consumers know that too,” said Mary Whittle in a phone interview. She is the CEO of Clear Lake Wineries, a family-run business that exports Ontario wines to China.

derimot, China is cracking down on IP violations for good reason. It realizes that some of its companies can be global champions provided other companies don’t plunder their IP. So they must be protected. The number of settlements in the last few years is up roughly fourfold under the stronger judicial framework, says De Silva.

IP violations aren’t limited to fake goods. They can derail a business when an unscrupulous company learns of the legal name of a legitimate business and becomes the first to register or use that name in China. It then files a claim against the genuine business when it tries to register or use the name in China.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (CTCS) warns that patents and trademarks registered in Canada or other countries are not usually protected in China and that regulatory enforcement can still be unsatisfactory. The CTCS website even has an extensive section on business risks related to corruption in China.

A lot of product on Alibaba is counterfeit. Consumers know that too.

— Mary Whittle, CEO, Clear Lake Wineries

Another warning from the CTCS, in a section titled “An Introduction to E-Commerce in China,” states: “Government policies regulating the marketplace are dense, complicated, and prone to changes without notice.”

An extreme example of China’s opaque regulatory enforcement is the case of John Chang and Allison Lu, owners of Lulu Island Winery based in B.C., who are facing a minimum of 10 years—and possibly life—in prison for alleged wine smuggling into China. The winery said it believed it had followed all the applicable laws, yet Chang has already been serving jail time.

“The arrest of Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu for a fabricated customs violation is an assault on their basic rights, a breach of China’s international trade obligations, and China’s own customs laws,” Conservative international trade critic Gerry Ritz said, as reported by the CBC in May.

In an email to The Epoch Times, Brianne Maxwell, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said: "We are following the case of Mr. Chang and Ms. Lu closely. Canadian officials are in contact with the relevant Chinese authorities and are providing consular assistance to Mr. Chang, Ms. Lu and their family. Canadian representatives have raised the case with Chinese authorities at high levels. To protect the privacy of the individuals concerned, further details on this case cannot be released."

Rule of law is necessary for business to thrive in a legitimate manner. Clearly it still has a long way to go in China.

The Chinese e-commerce giants are basically facilitation and delivery mechanisms. But doing business in China is much more than filling an order. The Chinese consumer is bombarded with options and a variety of marketing schemes. The reality is that many countries are trying to sell to the Chinese, which makes marketing efforts to distinguish products costly. Competition is intense.

Whittle says she was told by JD.com that a business could spend $400,000 on a marketing campaign for a month and there’s no guarantee the message would register with consumers.

“It is a very difficult market to penetrate and you can do a lot of things right and it’s still hard, very difficult to break through the noise, competing against every other country and every other product,” Whittle said.

The e-commerce giants may be trying to put dollar signs in the heads of Canadian businesses, but there are many factors for success that are beyond their control.

Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETBiz

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Sailors with the Chinese navy stand on the deck of a missile frigate in Manila on April 13, 2010. The Chinese regime is building a military base in Djibouti that will extend its military reach. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)Sailors with the Chinese navy stand on the deck of a missile frigate in Manila on April 13, 2010. The Chinese regime is building a military base in Djibouti that will extend its military reach. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s first overseas military base—located at a critical choke point for global trade looking to navigate the Suez Canal—could be a geopolitical game changer, but it has less impact in military terms.

Establishing the Djibouti base at the Horn of Africa signals the Chinese regime’s long-term strategic intentions, say experts. A Chinese Communist Party that once pledged to stay out of the affairs of other countries is now building military capacity far beyond its immediate border.

But the change is less important to China’s military capability than to its ability to directly intervene in global shipping. Tidligere i år, the regime convinced Panama—home to the world’s other great shipping pass—to cut ties with Taiwan and fully back China’s claim on the island nation, which the regime describes as a breakaway province.

These moves follow a series of port deals that have given the regime the ability to ensure its critical shipping lanes.

Inntil nå, derimot, none of those facilities have been for direct military use.

Establishing the Djibouti base reverses a long-standing military policy, said Gabe Collins, a researcher and co-founder of China Signpost.

“If you look at basic foreign policymaking throughout the vast majority of the PRC’s history, overseas bases are major redlines they weren’t willing to cross, and they pretty clearly crossed that now," han sa. Collins co-authored a report on the base and its implications two years ago.

Territorial claims in the South China Sea. (VOA News)

Territorial claims in the South China Sea. (VOA News)

The change comes as the Chinese regime becomes increasingly bellicose in its expansive claim to a major swath of the South China Sea. The regime has also been vocal and threatening in its ongoing and multiple border disputes with India. Those disputes have reached an intensity not seen in decades.

Military reform

Personnel from China are now en route to build out the facility, carried on ships that are part of the regime’s rapidly modernizing military.

That military is being reformed to develop the capability to fight battles beyond its shores.

The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) aims to, among other things, “improve its ability to fight short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts at greater distances from the Chinese mainland,” reads the secretary of defense’s 2017 report to Congress on Chinese military developments.

While the regime is most intent on potential conflict in the South and East China seas, Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled concern in strategic rival India that the PLA is gaining another position that could threaten Indian interests.

Limited military value

Fortunately for India, the actual military strategic value of the base is limited, said Collins. While it may be useful to launch attacks against much weaker foes in the Middle East or North Africa with limited attack capabilities, it is as much of a liability as it is an asset in a conflict with a greater power.

“I suspect that base would become a high explosive sponge fairly quickly. It’s a targeter’s dream because it’s built a way outside of the town," han sa.

Using Djibouti as a base of operations to fight another great power would be like throwing stones from a house made of “very, very, very thin glass,” said Collins. The base wouldn’t last long, han sa.

The base is more useful for power projection into regional conflicts, a refueling and resupply depot rather than a base of operations. The fact that the United States, Frankrike, and Japan have bases there reinforces the point. til dags dato, China has used its commercial facility there for years in ongoing anti-piracy efforts and to evacuate 500 Chinese nationals from Yemen in 2015.

Those operations gave China the pretext to forward-deploy naval forces in the region. With its Djibouti foothold now being expanded for military use, the regime gains a base in a country that is relatively stable in a region rife with conflict. For an expansionist China looking to build geopolitical influence in Africa and with oil-rich Gulf states, it’s an important gain.

“If you have an amphibious ship with some armed helicopters on it, and you are dealing with insurgents in some countries in East Africa, or even Yemen or place like that, you just came to the table with a lot of currency and you can play all night long,” said Collins.

Even if India can have some confidence that the base has limited military value, the ability China gains to forward deploy its navy along a critical shipping lane has unsettling implications.

Pax Sinica

The Chinese regime has been working to secure its presence at the world’s most important chokepoints for shipping oil: the Strait of Malacca, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz, the Panama Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Turkish Straits.

The Chinese reigme is working to gain influence at every major oil trade chokepoint. (Epoch Times)

The Chinese reigme is working to gain influence at every major oil trade chokepoint. (Epoch Times)

In doing so, the regime could play a major role securing or controlling world trade. That trade is now assured through the “Pax Americana,” a state of relative international peace overseen by the United States.

But a “Pax Sinica,” or “Chinese Peace,” could look very different, said Collins.

“One of the things you have to look at is the countries that are serving as security guarantor, you have to see what sort of mentality they bring to the table. Are they coming to this with a mercantilist mindset or much more with a globalist and trading oriented mindset,” asked Collin.

The United States has been an equal opportunity security provider, han sa, basically indifferent to where oil was going, whether it be Europe or East Asia.

“We don’t discriminate at all in how we provide security based on the destination of the shipment and so I think that’s something that makes the Pax Americana unique," han sa.

While China’s intentions are unclear, its aggressive claims in the South China Sea and habit of using PLA hackers to steal commercial technology for China’s state-owned companies and high-priority industries are just two of many examples fueling allegations that the regime takes the mercantilist approach to trade.

At the moment, China can do little more than fly its flag in Djibouti, said Collins. It naval assets are limited to the few warships and support vessels that have made a passing presence there.

But that could change, and China could take a tactic it has used successfully in the South China Sea—using “coercive tactics, such as the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict.”

From that perspective, even if the base has little value in an actual war, it could boost efforts to otherwise assert the interests of the Chinese regime.

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Falun Dafa Association of Canada president Li Xun speaks during a rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on June 26, 2017, calling for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian who is currently detained in China for practising Falun Gong. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)Falun Dafa Association of Canada president Li Xun speaks during a rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on June 26, 2017, calling for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian who is currently detained in China for practising Falun Gong. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)

Starting June 25 and continuing for the next few days, rallies appealing for the rescue of a Canadian citizen detained in China are being held in several cities across the country.

Falun Gong practitioners and supporters are staging protests in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa and the Chinese consulates in Vancouver and other cities to condemn the arrest of Vancouver resident Sun Qian and to call for her immediate release.

A Chinese-Canadian businesswoman who became a citizen in 2007, Sun was detained by the Chinese authorities in February for practising the traditional spiritual discipline Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa.

As the vice president of Beijing Leadman Biochemistry, Sun travelled regularly between Vancouver and Beijing for work. While she was in her Beijing residence on Feb. 19, mer enn 20 plainclothes security agents barged in, ransacked her home, and took her away.

She has since been imprisoned at the Beijing First Detention Centre’s 414 Prison Room, a facility notorious for its brutal treatment of detainees.

“The arbitrary arrest and mistreatment violated her right to freedom of belief guaranteed under China’s own constitution and international law,” says a statement from the Falun Dafa Association of Canada (FDAC) on the occasion of the national appeal for Sun’s release.

After a visit with her lawyer on May 5, Sun was pushed to the ground by four male guards, sprayed in the face with a pungent chemical, and handcuffed and shackled, according to Sun’s sister, Sun Zan. The handcuffs and shackles remained on day and night from May 5 to May 18. She was also forced to wear the same socks and underwear for over two months.

ID card image of Sun Qian. (The Epoch Times)

ID card image of Sun Qian. (The Epoch Times)

“My daughter has not committed any crime,” wrote Sun’s 78-year-old mother in a statement. “On the contrary, she has become an even better person [through practising Falun Gong]. But under the CCP’s tyranny, she is now detained instead. I have no choice but to worry about my daughter.”

In a speech at the rally in Ottawa on June 26, Falun Gong practitioner Hongyan Lu called for Sun’s release and also talked of her mother, Huixia Chen, who has been detained in China a second time for her beliefs.

“On June 3, 2016, she was again illegally detained, enduring brutal torture and brainwashing even at 60 years of age, unable to have contact with family members,” Lu said. “In February this year, Canadian citizen Sun Qian was abducted from her Beijing residence, illegally held, and endured torture, also because she practises Falun Gong. These are only two cases out of the millions of cases of Falun Gong practitioners being cruelly persecuted in China.”

Since the Chinese regime launched its campaign of persecution against the practice in July 1999 due to fear over its immense popularity, Falun Gong adherents have been systematically subjected to arrest, torture, and killing. It has been estimated that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, remain unlawfully imprisoned.

“I hereby call for the immediate end to the persecution of Falun Gong, the immediate and unconditional release of Sun Qian and my mother Huixia Chen, as well as all illegally imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners. Let all those perpetrators of the persecution be brought to justice,” said Lu.

Falun Gong practitioner David Cordero speaks during a rally on June 25, 2017, calling for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian who is currently detained in China for practising Falun Gong. (Feng Tang/The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioner David Cordero speaks during a rally on June 25, 2017, calling for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian who is currently detained in China for practising Falun Gong. (Feng Tang/The Epoch Times)

Health Problems Healed

According to the FDAC statement, Sun used to suffer from liver and heart problems as well as depression, but soon after she started practising Falun Gong in 2014, all her health issues disappeared.

Alice Zhang, who spoke at the rally in Vancouver on June 25, a day before the Ottawa rally, likened Sun’s improved health to that of her mother in China, who is also being held in China for practising Falun Gong.

“Like Sun Qian, my mother also had many illnesses for which she was unable to find a cure, and after practising Falun Gong she became healthy and no longer suffered from illness. But now she is being jailed by the Chinese communist regime,” she said.

“I have come here not only to appeal for the freedom of Sun Qian, but also for the release of my mother and all imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners. My hope is that all citizens in mainland China will soon have the right and freedom to practise Falun Gong.”

At the Vancouver rally, David Cordero said he finds it “inconceivable that the Chinese regime is actively building an international image while still persecuting a kind-hearted group of people who believe in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” referring to the guiding principles of the practice.

“This runs counter to the principles of international civil society," han sa. “The Chinese regime should immediately release Sun Qian, and at the same time the Canadian government should make greater effort to urge the Chinese regime to release Sun Qian.”

MP Peter Kent speaks at a press conference in support of efforts to secure the release of Canadian citizen Qian Sun detained in China for her practice of Falun Gong, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 9, 2017. (Jonathan Ren/NTD Television)

MP Peter Kent speaks at a press conference in support of efforts to secure the release of Canadian citizen Qian Sun detained in China for her practice of Falun Gong, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 9, 2017. (Jonathan Ren/NTD Television)

Although Sun’s family members have not been allowed to visit her, she has received two consular visits since she was arrested. Several high-level Canadian officials have appealed for her release, including Conservative members of Parliament Peter Kent and Michael Cooper, former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, NDP MP Cheryl Hardcastle, and Green leader Elizabeth May.

“We are grateful to the thousands of Canadians who have signed petitions calling for the release of Ms. Sun and we are also grateful to over a dozen MPs from all parties who have called for Ms. Sun’s immediate release and intervention from our government,” the FDAC statement said.

“We condemn the Chinese communist regime’s illegal detention of Ms. Sun, and we urge the Canadian government to intervene and solidify Ms. Sun’s immediate release and the release all jailed Falun Gong practitioners.”

Falun Gong practitioners  gather in front of the Chinese Consulate in Calgary to appeal for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian, who has been detained in China since Feb. 19 for her faith in Falun Gong. (The Epoch Times)

Falun Gong practitioners gather in front of the Chinese Consulate in Calgary to appeal for the release of Canadian citizen Sun Qian, who has been detained in China since Feb. 19 for her faith in Falun Gong. (The Epoch Times)
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Demonstrators march against the CETA trade deal near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Feb.15, 2017. Globalization has not been kind to incomes of most of the middle class in developed world economies. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)Demonstrators march against the CETA trade deal near the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Feb.15, 2017. Globalization has not been kind to incomes of most of the middle class in developed world economies. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

MONTREAL—Geopolitical risk is running high despite all seeming well with U.S. stock markets, but evaluating broader trends, which include “de-globalization” and China’s economic transition on asset prices and inflation, is critical at this time.

Volatility—the degree of fear in the market that can be measured by the VIX (S&P 500 volatility)—is extremely low. Meanwhile an elevated level of policy-related economic uncertainty prevails; investors have little confidence that impending government actions will work.

“It’s a little bit spooky how disengaged the two have been to each other,” said Lisa Emsbo-Mattingly, Fidelity Investment’s global asset allocation director of research, at the International Economic Forum of the Americas juni 12.

While it seems the world is heading for a period of synchronized economic growth, geopolitics—or non-market factors—such as aging populations and rising inequality remain headwinds.

Diversification has always been critical for investors to smooth market ups and downs on a path to achieving financial goals. In times of market stress, asset prices tend to move together (increased correlation) and it becomes costly to change a portfolio’s investment mix due to greater costs for buying and selling (worse liquidity).

Domestic Focus

With globalization having distributed economic growth toward emerging and frontier markets, den US-. hegemony has been eroded, said Marko Papic, senior vice president of Geopolitical Strategy at BCA Research, a 68-year-old Montreal-based independent investment firm.

“We know from history, when more countries get to say and pursue what they want, it is a less stable world,” Papic said. “Today we have the highest number of conflicts going on at the same time.”

China has its eye on filling the void left by the United States as the post-Cold War order crumbles. Under Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the United States can no longer be a reliable partner.

Knowing what’s going on in China now is more important than ever.

— Paul Podolsky, partner, Bridgewater Associates

And Canada intends to play a bigger role on the international stage, based on recent comments from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We worry that East Asia will be the powder keg of the 21st century,” Papic said. Chinese and American economic symbiosis is tenuous at best.

In a more multi-polar world, Papic argues that it will be smaller and medium-sized businesses that will benefit relative to the large multinationals that prospered as globalization took hold.

“Any economy, sector, or particular stock that derives most of its final demand from within the jurisdiction in which it is domiciled will be the [investering] theme of the next 15 til 20 år,” Papic said.

The China Factor

“Swings in the global economy come from the swings in China’s economy,” said Paul Podolsky, a partner at hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.

China’s boom came from its cheap cost of plentiful labor; derimot, that’s less true today than it used to be. Its more recent rapid buildup of debt has propped up the world economy.

The issue is that plenty of economies—Canada, South Africa, Australia, Brazil—depend on China’s continuing to operate a credit-driven economic model. derimot, if the Chinese authorities are able to pull off the difficult transition away from a debt-fuelled investment model toward a domestic consumption model, it will be painful for emerging markets and commodity-driven economies. But China will benefit in the long run.

“Their domestic economy, that really needs to be resolved before they start thinking about global domination,” Papic said about China, whose 19th communist party congress takes place in the fall.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its forecast for Chinese GDP to grow 6.7 prosent 2017. This is up from a prior estimate of 6.6 prosent. Chinese credit growth slowed in May under the tighter supervision of policy-makers.

We worry that East Asia will be the powder keg of the 21st century.

— Marko Papic, senior vice president, Geopolitical Strategy, BCA Research

“Knowing what’s going on in China now is more important than ever,” Podolsky said. He added that the short-term prognosis for China looks good—at least the rapid debt buildup is denominated in its own currency, of which more can be printed.

Specter of Inflation

As globalization grew, production moved to cheaper sources of labor—China and emerging markets. Among the reasons the populist wave rose is the failure of globalization to boost incomes for the middle class in developed world nations like the United States and United Kingdom.

Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, has targeted helping the middle class in his two budgets. “We need to deal with the sense of anxiety people are facing,” he said in discussing the rejection of the status quo seen by the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s election, and the Liberals returning to power in Canada in 2015.

As the global economy moves away from peak globalization, an upside risk for inflation develops. If free movement of capital and labor is restricted, supply is more costly to produce, resulting in higher prices.

“Our view is that we are exiting a deflationary period and entering an inflationary one slowly but surely,” Papic said. “And then gold will realize its role as a safe haven.”

OSS. stock markets have been in a “Goldilocks” scenario, supported by low interest rates, low inflation, good corporate earnings, and a low threat of an imminent recession.

“I would not say there’s a lot of complacency in the market. The VIX is reflecting a very exuberant market,” Emsbo-Mattingly said, adding that the recovery emanated from a Chinese recovery, which has been good for cyclical stocks globally.

“My concern is we’re at peak valuations, peak growth. A lot of things are as good as they’re going to get,” Emsbo-Mattingly said.

Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETBiz

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MP Garnett Genuis on Parliament Hill on April 10, 2017. Genuis is urging the government to support his private member’s bill to combat organ trafficking. (NTD Television)MP Garnett Genuis on Parliament Hill on April 10, 2017. Genuis is urging the government to support his private member’s bill to combat organ trafficking. (NTD Television)

OTTAWA—Conservative MP Garnett Genuis raised forced organ harvesting in China this week in the House of Commons in the hopes of securing government support for his private member’s organ trafficking bill.

“Canada needs to be vocal in standing up for international human rights, and in particular for the rights of persecuted minorities. Even above that, Canada needs legislation which would define in Canadian law our opposition to involuntary organ harvesting in cases where it comes back to our shores,” Genuis said on May 17.

“This really is a no-brainer and it should be a non-partisan issue.”

Genuis pointed out that Bill C-350, which aims to counter forced organ harvesting, is the same as Bill C-561 put forward by former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler. That bill only made it to first reading in the last Parliament.

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who had previously put forward a similar bill that also failed to make it through the legislative process, seconded Bill C-350 when Genuis introduced it on April 10.

Bill C-350 would amend the Criminal Code to impose penal sanctions against those who, whether in Canada or abroad, knowingly acquire or trade in human organs that have been removed without donor consent or for financial gain. It would also amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to render inadmissible those non-Canadians who engage in the trafficking of human organs.

Genuis referred to the harvesting of organs from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China while they are still alive—an atrocity that was first exposed in a 2006 report by Canadian lawyers Davd Matas and David Kilgour.

“Sometimes these organs are cut out of a person while he or she is still living and without anaesthetics, screaming in pain as the person’s body is cut apart. In many cases, organ harvesting is a form of further abuse, targeting members of persecuted religious minorities," han sa.

According to “Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update,” released last June by Kilgour, Matas, and investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, other religious minorities besides Falun Gong practitioners being killed to supply China’s highly lucrative organ transplant industry are Uyghur Muslims, House Christians, and Tibetans.

The report estimated that “between 60,000 og 100,000 organs are being transplanted in Chinese hospitals every year, with the source for most of those organs being prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong practitioners.”

Canada needs legislation which would define in Canadian law our opposition to involuntary organ harvesting in cases where it comes back to our shores.

— Conservative MP Garnett Genuis

“There is a real urgency to move forward with this kind of basic human rights legislation given escalating human rights problems around the world, and given the emphasis this government is putting on Canada’s relationship with China,” Genuis said.

Complex Issues

In reply to Genuis, Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, said the bill “raises some complex legal and social policy issues.”

“There are a number of complex issues that are raised by this proposed legislation specifically related to the extraterritoriality provisions, which would capture Canadians travelling abroad," han sa.

“In addition, there are other international implications, including under existing United Nations conventions as well as the Council of Europe, which has adopted its own convention against trafficking in human organs. These are all international treaties and conventions, which we will be looking at very closely as we approach the second reading vote.”

Mendicino noted some of the aspects of the bill: “It would require medical practitioners who examine a person who has had an organ transplanted to report the identity of that person as well as other health information to this proposed new entity. As part of this regulatory regime, the bill would impose a duty on the person who receives an organ to obtain a certificate establishing that it was donated and not purchased.”

Genuis said “there is a lot of detail” in the bill and explained the importance of that.

“The detail is important for ensuring that there is effective administration of the provisions that are in place, that we are actually not just saying that we are against organ harvesting, but we have a mechanism in place to address it concretely.”

He said he is open to amendments to the bill, and asked Mendicino whether he could count on the government’s support at second reading.

Mendicino replied that “the government is taking a hard look at this bill, without making any comment about what our position will be at second reading.”

Genuis noted that there is currently no law preventing Canadian citizens from going abroad, acquiring an organ which they know or which they should know has been taken without consent, and then returning to Canada for continuing medical treatment.

He noted that organ transplantation in China is a booming industry, with the regime investing large amounts of money into new buildings, staff, and research and training in transplantation.

“Given this massive capital establishment coupled with the high volume of transplants, the transplantation industry in China is built on not just the ready supply of available organs in the present, but also on an expectation of an indefinite supply of organs for the future, " han sa.

“As such, we should greet claims by the regime that this practice has ended with severe skepticism.”

“Bloody Harvest/The Slaughter: An Update” found that China’s state-driven transplantation industry transplants far more organs—by an order of magnitude—than can be accounted for by officially acknowledged sources, which Beijing says are limited to executed death-row prisoners and voluntary donors.

Israel, Spain, Italia, and Taiwan have passed laws restricting their citizens from travelling to China to receive organ transplants from illicit sources.

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Hongyan Lu speaks at a rally in front of the Chinese embassy on April 25, 2017, to mark the 18th anniversary of Falun Gong practitioners’ large-scale appeal for freedom of belief in China on April 25, 1999, and to call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong. To her right is Falun Gong practitioner Joanna Qiao holding a sign seeking help to call for the release of Lu’s mother, Huixia Chen, from detention in China and facing three years to life imprisonment for her belief. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)Hongyan Lu speaks at a rally in front of the Chinese embassy on April 25, 2017, to mark the 18th anniversary of Falun Gong practitioners’ large-scale appeal for freedom of belief in China on April 25, 1999, and to call for an end to the persecution of Falun Gong. To her right is Falun Gong practitioner Joanna Qiao holding a sign seeking help to call for the release of Lu’s mother, Huixia Chen, from detention in China and facing three years to life imprisonment for her belief. (Donna He/The Epoch Times)

OTTAWA—The largest appeal for freedom of belief in Chinese history was commemorated in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on April 25, 2017.

On April 25, 1999, mer enn 10,000 people gathered peacefully in Beijing to appeal for their freedom to practice Falun Gong and the release of arrested fellow practitioners. Forty-five or so practitioners had been beaten and detained in the nearby city of Tianjin.

De 45 practitioners were released that evening, so those who had gathered to appeal left quietly and went home.

derimot, just three months after the unprecedented appeal, then-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched a nationwide campaign of persecution to “eradicate” Falun Gong that continues today.

“We are honouring the spirit of peace, justice, and compassion with which that appeal was held 18 År siden,” said Xun Li, president of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada.

“I am here to honour the April 25th peaceful appeal. Meantime I also hope to draw attention to my mother’s case,” said Hongyan Lu, a Falun Gong practitioner living in Ottawa.

Hongyan recounted how her 60-year old mother Huixia Chen suffered from hepatitis B, cirrhosis, stomach problems, and endometriosis in 1998 when she began practicing Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa.

“Just a few months into practicing Falun Gong that year, all her illnesses miraculously went away and she became good-tempered,” said Hongyan.

derimot, Huixia was arrested in June 2016, together with other fellow practitioners.

In the first 20 days after the arrest, Huixia “was tortured and locked in a chair made of metal bars and not allowed to move,” said Hongyan. “This destroyed her health and made it hard for her to walk or stand up. She’s very weak. She has also been forced to endure brainwashing sessions.”

Huixia is detained in Shijiazhuang Second Detention Center.

“My relatives in China are still struggling to get any updates on my mother and unfortunately have made little progress,” Hangyan said. “We have no idea what’s happening or what may happen to my mother under a regime without an independent or effective legal system.”

Hongyan noted that her mother’s experience is typical of the tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners in China.

“I call for the end of the persecution and the release of my other and all other incarcerated Falun Gong practitioners,” she said.

“It’s time to end this evil crime.”

Falun Gong is a traditional spiritual discipline of the Buddhist school. It consists of meditation, qigong exercises, and moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice spread quickly due to the profound benefits experienced by practitioners in their physical health and mental and moral wellbeing.

By the late 1990s Chinese government surveys estimated that 70–100 million people had taken up the practice. Due to paranoia over the immense popularity of the practice, which was not under state control, Party leader Jiang officially launched the brutal persecution in July 1999.

I 2006 the United Nations stated that 66 percent of reported victims of torture were Falun Gong practitioners. The U.N. and other groups have also reported growing evidence of rape, torture, widespread hate propaganda, deaths, and even state-orchestrated forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners to supply China’s booming transplant trade.

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Xiang Junbo, Chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRCUS) at the National People's Congress March 12, 2016 i Beijing. (Lintao Zhang / Getty Images)Xiang Junbo, Chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRCUS) at the National People's Congress March 12, 2016 i Beijing. (Lintao Zhang / Getty Images)

China’s powerful financial sector has officially been put on notice.

Xiang Junbo, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRCUS), was placed under investigation for “severe disciplinary violations” last week, according to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s top anti-corruption organ.

Så langt, Xiang is the highest-ranking cadre from the financial industry caught in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

The inquiry into Xiang could open the floodgates on future investigations into the Chinese financial industry. Sources close to Zhongnanhai—headquarters compound of the CCP and the state council—told The Epoch Times that Xi is targeting corruption within the financial sector in 2017 and Xiang is the “first tiger” captured in the effort.

Sources suggested that Xiang’s crimes are “severe” and relate to the Chinese stock market volatility in recent years. The investigation could also lead to corruption implications of top officials at other financial regulatory bodies such as the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Xiang, 60, has extensive connections and experience in China’s financial sector. Prior to his appointment at the CIRC, Xiang was chairman at the Agricultural Bank of China, one of China’s “Big Four” state-owned commercial banks. Before that, Xiang was a deputy governor at the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank. He worked at the Audit Commission earlier in his career.

The sacking of Xiang has surprised many in the Chinese financial sector. He was one of China’s top finance officials and a member of the CCP’s central committee. His commission oversaw an insurance industry with rapidly growing clout and a penchant for overseas asset acquisitions.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has been hawkish on reforming the financial sector in recent months. At a speech on March 21, Li urged authorities to take powerful measures to prevent corruption in the financial sector, which is vulnerable to the advent of shadow banking, bad assets, and illegal internet financing, according to state-controlled Xinhua.net.

The Xiao Jianhua Connection

Xiang’s capture was likely precipitated by the recent disappearance of CCP insider Xiao Jianhua, a billionaire Chinese investor residing in Hong Kong.

China’s insurance industry has garnered immense power—and controversy—during Xiang’s oversight.

Xiao disappeared from his residence at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong in late January, and was brought back to Beijing for interrogation. The Zhongnanhai source told The Epoch Times that Xiao provided information a number of top-level officials with allegiances to the “Jiang Faction.” His testimony could have served as one of the bread crumbs leading to Xiang’s investigation.

Xiao is among China’s richest individuals, with a sprawling investments across several sectors, including banking, eiendom, information technology, and rare-earth minerals. He was worth $5.8 billion as of 2016, according to the Hurun Report.

It’s unclear where Xiao currently stands politically in the current Jiang Faction-Xi Jinping divide, although he seems to have established connections to both. I 2006 Xiao assisted Zeng Wei, the son of former Party vice-chairman Zeng Qinghong, to privatize Shandong Luneng through a series of shell companies owned by Xiao. Zeng was a top CCP official during the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao regimes.

Og i 2012, an entity owned by Xiao acquired shares worth at least $2.4 million from Qi Qiaoqiao and Deng Jiagui, the sister and brother-in-law of Xi Jinping.

Insurers Gone Rogue

China’s insurance industry has garnered immense power—and controversy—during Xiang’s oversight in the last six years.

From 2012 til 2016, China’s insurance sector grew 14.3 percent in overall and non-life insurance grew 16.5 percent in premiums volume, according to data from Munich Re. I fjor, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second biggest insurance market by premiums.

Under governance of the Xiang-led CIRC, the insurance sector has turned into a den of corporate raiders.

Traditional insurers are bastions of conservatism, holding stable assets such as government securities and corporate bonds. Insurers by nature must consider preservation of their clients’ capital as paramount.

But not in China. Sensing opportunity in a low interest rate environment, over the last few years Chinese insurers expanded outside of traditional insurance activities by issuing wealth management products called universal life policies. These products, which offer high interest rates and are a hybrid between a bond and a life insurance policy, have been popular with consumers dissatisfied with bank deposit rates of around 1 prosent.

Munich_Re_China

(Kilde: Munich Re)

Flush with cash but saddled by promises to pay high yields, Chinese insurance companies poured money into risky and volatile assets not typically associated with insurers. These firms took large positions in Chinese publicly listed companies and snapped up overseas assets including foreign companies and real estate.

Evergrande Life—a unit of property developer China Evergrande Group—saw its premiums increase more than 40 fold in 2016.

Evergrande and Foresea Life—a unit of Baoneng Group—used their proceeds from universal life policies to amass a large stake in real estate developer China Vanke during the last year. A public and protracted dispute to wrest control of Vanke from founder and CEO Wang Shi ensued, creating a market firestorm which was finally dispelled after Beijing intervened late last year.

The raid on Vanke was far from the only instance of aggressive asset accumulation by insurers, but its virulent nature—Baoneng and Vanke engaged in a public war of words—created the most headaches for Beijing.

Som en bransje, insurance has also been a major vehicle to funnel money abroad in the form of foreign acquisitions, at times in opposition to Beijing’s official stance on stemming the outflow of yuan. Anbang Life was at the forefront of such purchases, and made headlines in 2015 for purchasing New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel for nearly $2 milliarder. I 2016, Anbang bought Strategic Hotels & Resorts fra Blackstone Group for $6.5 milliarder. The company’s biggest gambit was a failed $14 milliarder tilbud om overtakelse av Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

For years, the cavalier investment strategies of insurers had the implicit blessing of the CIRC. After he took reins of the regulator, Xiang endorsed more flexible usage of insurance premiums and insisted on “giving innovation the biggest freedom” within the industry, according to a South China Morning Post report.

The insurance industry’s contribution to recent stock market gyrations (via equity purchases) and downward pressure on the Chinese yuan currency (through foreign asset purchases) could be factors in Xiang’s downfall. But allegations against Xiang may go beyond insurance given his previous stops at the Agricultural Bank of China and the People’s Bank of China.

Xiang had not seen in public for several weeks leading up to February, stirring rumors about a possible arrest. He reappeared on Feb. 22 at a news conference, and railed against the insurance industry for their recent activities. Xiang stated that the CIRC “will punish top executives and revoke their licenses, and definitely not allow the insurance industry to be turned into a regal club.”

The CIRC has stepped up efforts to rein in the activities of insurers in the last few months. A mid-December announcement lowered the ratios of equity to be held at insurers, and barred them from using insurance deposits to fund equity purchases. By the end of February, CIRC had already rejected four license applications, matching the total for all of 2016.

But for Xiang, it was perhaps too little too late.

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MP Garnett Genuis on Parliament Hill on April 10, 2017. He said he hopes his private member's bill aimed at combating forced organ harvesting in China receives all-party support. (NTD Television)MP Garnett Genuis on Parliament Hill on April 10, 2017. He said he hopes his private member's bill aimed at combating forced organ harvesting in China receives all-party support. (NTD Television)

OTTAWA—Conservative MP Garnett Genuis formally introduced his first-ever private member’s bill this week, aimed at combating a grave issue inflicting harm on spiritual believers in China, but also impacting Canadians.

Bill C-350 revives former Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s Bill C-561, which aims to fight forced organ harvesting.

“This bill seeks to combat the scourge of forced organ harvesting, when organs are taken from people against their will, often gruesomely and without anaesthetic and while a person is still living, and often when the individual’s only so-called crime is engaging in a particular religious or spiritual practice, ” Genuis said in the House of Commons on April 10.

The bill amends both Canada’s Criminal Code and Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

“It makes it a criminal offence for a person to acquire an organ that they know was acquired without consent. It also and makes those involved in forced organ harvesting inadmissible to Canada,” Genuis explained.

“As the government seeks to deepen Canada’s relationship with China, this bill is needed now more than ever,” he added. “It’s very important for Canada to prioritize human rights, and this is one important way we can do that.”

Genuis said in an interview with New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD) that the practice of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience in China has been a major concern.

“It’s just terrible that people would be targeted for this, having committed no crime, simply exercising their rights under section 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to practice a religious or spiritual practice based on their belief. Certainly, that’s a concern.”

As the government seeks to deepen Canada’s relationship with China, this bill is needed now more than ever.

— MP Garnett Genuis

Cotler, a former justice minister who wrote the original bill in 2015, said in a previous interview with NTD that the bill “will deter the Chinese engaged in this from continuing this criminality because it will send a message that they will be held accountable. It will combat the culture of impunity that has reigned thus far with regard to the organ harvesting and criminality that underpins it.”

“Regarding Canada,” he added, “it will ensure that we are not complicit in this and that Canadians do not engage in this practice, and they will be put on notice that they will be held accountable if Canadians are engaged in this practice.

“So it sends a dual message, both to those engaged in that criminality in Canada and those in Canada who are complicit in it. On both sides they will be held accountable.”

Genuis said that his fellow Conservatives “are very much behind” the issue, but all-party support is needed.

“To make it all the way, we need to build those bridges across party lines. We are well on our way to doing that. We have got clearly some strong support in other parties. Getting it all the way is going to require us to keep building on that. But there is no reason any party should be reluctant to do this. This is a basic human rights issue. It’s something that all parties should get behind," han sa.

Genuis already has Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s support to second the bill. Wrzesnewskyj has in the past twice proposed a similar private member’s bill to combat forced organ harvesting in China.

“We will be cooperating and working hard to make sure we finally have a Parliament to pass this legislation,” Wrzesnewskyj said.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis and Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj on Parliament Hill on April 10, 2017. Genuis already has Wrzesnewskyj's support to second Bill C-350. (NTD Television)

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis and Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj on Parliament Hill on April 10, 2017. Genuis already has Wrzesnewskyj’s support to second Bill C-350. (NTD Television)

The bill was inspired by the over 10 years of research done by two Canadian lawyers, David Matas and David Kilgour, on state-sanctioned organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners in China, which kills the victim in the process.

Matas and Kilgour, along with investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann, released a report in June 2016 which estimated, based on evidence such as hospital data and doctors’ statements, that Chinese hospitals have performed some 60,000 til 100,000 transplants a year since 2000, with the source for most of the organs coming from prisoners of conscience, primarily Falun Gong practitioners.

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Former religious freedom ambassador Andrew Bennett (L) and Canada’s former ambassador to China David Mulroney at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)Former religious freedom ambassador Andrew Bennett (L) and Canada’s former ambassador to China David Mulroney at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

OTTAWA—With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s new ambassador to China, John McCallum, ambitious to pursue ever greater engagement with the world’s most populous nation, two former ambassadors on April 3 addressed the annual parliamentarians’ forum on religious freedom concerned about rights violations in that country.

“China remains one of the world’s most egregious violators of freedom of religion,” former religious freedom ambassador Andrew Bennett told a packed audience. Bennett is a senior fellow at think tank Cardus, where he chairs a group dedicated to celebrating the importance of faith in Canadian society.

“Let’s be clear, there is no debate about the lack of religious freedom in China. Its government is tightly controlled by an avowedly atheist party,” said David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China and current president of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.

Completing the panel were human rights advocates and representatives from various faith groups, including the Falun Gong, Tibetan, and Uyghur communities, along with reigning Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin, whom Chinese authorities declared persona non grata for her outspoken views on rights abuses in China.

Hope and resilience were uplifting themes, but also cautionary advice amid the stark reality of rights abuses as Bennett and Mulroney charted proposals for moving forward to increase protection for religious believers in China.

What Canada Can Do

Mulroney said Canada took a very important step forward by creating an Office of Religious Freedom led by Bennett. derimot, now that this initiative has been dissolved by the Liberals and folded into an Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion, he had some recommendations for the government on how he believes this change can continue to improve on the effort.

The government should make it clear, through projects and funding, that the office truly is open to promoting the broad spectrum of human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mulroney said. It should also “listen and learn” about local conditions and needs and reach out to partners across Canada who are dedicated to advancing religious freedom.

As well, “building Canadian bridges to China’s inspiring and courageous religious believers is, in my view, smart diplomacy,” Mulroney said.

Building Canadian bridges to China’s inspiring and courageous religious believers is, in my view, smart diplomacy.

— David Mulroney , Canada’s former ambassador to China

Bennett agreed, adding that “the first step needs to be greater awareness-raising and education of the elites in this country around the role of religion,” including the role it plays in geopolitics and even international trade.

i mellomtiden, he said the key is “to recognize the depth of the problem, that China is among the countries with the most severe government restrictions on religious freedoms, and that has to be factored in how the Canadian government approaches human rights.”

“Canadian corporations that are engaged in investment, eksport, and trade in China should also, in their corporate social responsibility frameworks, factor this in,” said Bennett.

Dess, “it means to engage very publicly with the Chinese government on its human rights record,” said Bennett, adding that governments and advocacy groups need to do much more to expose Chinese government actions and demand improvements in behaviour.

Bennett also cautioned against treating China as “special” and saying that the regime operates and governs in a different way and has different values. “To use this as an argument for not taking action against human rights violations is moral relativism at its worst," han sa.

“We need to reflect that Canadian values are not simply Canadian values. The values of freedom, democracy, justice, rule of law, and human rightsthese are cosmopolitan rights that speak to a universal, objective truth. That must be the basis for our engagement with the Chinese government and indeed with all governments,” said Bennett.

Co-host David Anderson, MP, at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

Co-host David Anderson, MP, at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

‘A Cautionary Note’

“We should not be under any illusion, as China engages more and more with the political, economic, and social frameworks of the world, that that is having any impact on their human rights record,” Bennett said.

He said the more China engages in international fora, one would hope that there would be pressure put on the country to improve its record on human rights including religious freedom. “But they remained unmoved.”

Bennett added “a cautionary note for those countries such as Canada and our allies who continue to seek deeper relations with China, political relationships, trading relationships, defence relationships—we need to hold the Chinese government’s feet to the fire.”

We should not be under any illusion, as China engages more and more with the political, economic, and social frameworks of the world, that that is having any impact on their human rights record.

— Former religious freedom ambassador Andrew Bennett

Persecuted For Their Faith

Joel Chipkar, spokesperson for Falun Dafa Association of Canada, described the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners launched by former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin in 1999.

“He unleashed a relentless propaganda campaign that blanketed the country, and also created an extra-legal police force, called the 610 office, with absolute power that hunts down, arrests, and can even kill practitioners without trial.”

Carole Samdup, executive director of the Canada Tibet Committee, as part of her talk showed images of China’s repression of religious freedom in Tibet.

“Here what you see is a video that was smuggled out depicting nuns being forced to dance on the stage, which actually breaks their religious vow. And the next slide will show some other nuns who were required to sing patriotic songs.”

Rukiye Turdush, former president of the Uyghur Canadian Society, said the Chinese government puts serious restrictions on religious publications. “Chinese police forces can search Uyghurs’ home any time, without any searching warrant, and they confiscate the Koran, Bible, or any kind of religious books.”

In an interview after the forum, Mulroney expressed his “great admiration for religious believers in China.”

“I was always deeply impressed by their courage, and by what they are contributing to the rest of Chinese society. So I think it should be a real priority for Canadians to reach out and support believers in China.”

Joel Chipkar of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada speaks at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

Joel Chipkar of the Falun Dafa Association of Canada speaks at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

‘It’s Incumbent On Us’ to Speak Out

“Canada does have to be extremely careful that it is not naive in its relationship,” said MP Judy Sgro in an interview after the forum. “And there needs to be conditions as we move forward on rights.”

“It’s important that we are not afraid to identify the lack of freedom that our Chinese brothers and sisters are experiencing and to draw attention of the international community to these injustices,” said MP Harold Albrecht. “It’s incumbent upon us as Canadians.”

Canada does have to be extremely careful that it is not naive in its relationship.

— Liberal MP Judy Sgro

“It just shows that there is a lot more work to do before China joins the international community and is recognized as a member in good standing that respects human rights,” said MP Andrew Saxton. “We just have to continue to engage to make sure they are moving in the right direction.”

“I think it’s true that the regime in the PRC really does want to make sure their government is seen as being respectable and is seen as conforming with international norms,” said MP Scott Reid. “So whenever they are confronted with evidence that the world is rejecting something they are doing, it does have a certain impact.”

Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin speaks at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin speaks at the 6th Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa on April 4, 2017. (Donna He/Epoch Times)

Optimistic Outlook

Mulroney said he spent much time with faith groups in 2009–2012 when he served as ambassador to China, and saw the hope it offered to China’s religious believers.

“I quickly became aware that something as simple as showing up with a message of Canadian concern and support can become, as my colleague the German ambassador eloquently put it, like a candle in the dark for people who are otherwise alone and abandoned," han sa.

MP Garnett Genuis, co-chair of the forum along with MP David Anderson, called on the attendees to help advance the protection of religious freedom in China.

“It’s wonderful that we are able to end this evening on an optimistic note about the triumph of the human spirit over evil,” Genuis said. “Now it’s up to all of you to take the information you gained … and look for ways to become more engaged.”

“Canada can be a candle in the dark, so that we actually, by participating and by bringing up these issues, shine light on the subject and encourage the Chinese government to do better than they have in the past,” said Anderson. “We do have a significant influence, and we can use that influence and hopefully make some great change.”

Lin, the keynote speaker at the forum, said that a few years ago while preparing for her role as a victim of torture in the movie “The Bleeding Edge,” she spent time with two sisters who had escaped China to Canada in order to internalize their experience of abuse when imprisoned for practicing Falun Gong.

Vancouver residents Jing Tian and Jing Cai described to Lin the horrific pain of being shocked with electric batons on their heads, having bamboo shoots shoved under their fingernails, and brutal, life-threatening force-feeding techniques.

“All these tortures were part of the Chinese Communist Party’s psychological reprogramming to make one renounce one’s belief,” said Lin, adding that she was inspired by the sisters’ inner power that enabled them to stay strong.

“That power was the belief of the sisters—truth, kindness, and forgiveness,” she said.

“I think of them when I find myself in the darkness,” she continued. “My family [i Kina] was under great pressure from the Chinese regime in an effort to silence me after I won the Miss World Canada title.”

The Chinese regime “might succeed for a while, arresting human rights lawyers and believers, banning books and blocking websites, but they can never censor the human spirit,” she said.

“They can never take away … the hope and faith in us. They can never take away the human spirit.”

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Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay speaks during the plenary session at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 11th Asia Security Summit in Singapore on June 3, 2012. The IISS is being attended by defence officials from around the world.     AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN        (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GettyImages)Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay speaks during the plenary session at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 11th Asia Security Summit in Singapore on June 3, 2012. The IISS is being attended by defence officials from around the world.     AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN        (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GettyImages)

The Chinese ambassador’s recent remarks that Canada should keep human rights and national security concerns out of free trade negotiations don’t sit well with former cabinet minister Peter MacKay.

“It’s surprising that the Chinese envoy would even suggest such a thing,” said MacKay, a former minister of justice, defence, and foreign affairs in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government, in a phone interview.

In the negotiations, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we are a democratic country, we place a high priority on human rights, we believe firmly in the rule of law.

— Peter MacKay, former cabinet minister

According to a March 24 Globe and Mail report, Lu Shaye, the Chinese ambassador to Canada, said China will regard as trade protectionism any attempt by Canada to block Chinese firms from taking over Canadian companies. Lu added that Beijing doesn’t want human rights to be used as a “bargaining chip” in the talks.

MacKay believes it is critically important for Canada to have human rights and national security issues on the table when discussing trade deals with China.

“I think that our trade pursuit and the protection of our national interests, our security interests, are inseparable," han sa.

“And I believe as well that in the negotiations, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we are a democratic country, we place a high priority on human rights, we believe firmly in the rule of law. … These are notable differences between Canada and China.”

MacKay noted that there is ample evidence of Chinese cyber attacks and intrusions against Canada, indicating that protection of our national interests needs to be foremost in the minds of anyone embarking on trade discussions with China.

In one well-publicized case in 2014, a Chinese state-sponsored cyberattack hacked into the computer systems of Canada’s National Research Council. According to a March 30 Globe report, federal documents show that the cyberattack cost Canada hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Liberal government sparked renewed concern last month when it approved a Chinese company’s takeover of Montreal high-tech firm ITF Technologies, a deal previously blocked by the Conservative government under Harper. The applications of the Canadian company’s laser technology products include making weapons.

“Without national security clearance, it opens up Canada and all of our interests—critical infrastructure, our national security, our banks, our institutions—it opens them up for certain risks, and it will also by the way cause serious concerns amongst our allies, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand,” MacKay said.

History of Hostilities

Western intelligence agencies have often warned that China’s state-owned and private enterprises act in the interest of the Chinese Communist Party to the detriment of the West. Canada decided to block Chinese telecom giant Huawei from a government communications network project in 2012 due to security risks.

A OSS. congressional national security report released in 2012 concluded that risks associated with Huawei’s and Chinese telecom company ZTE’s “provision of equipment to U.S. critical infrastructure could undermine core U.S. national-security interests.”

In another case publicized in 2011, as previously reported by Epoch Times, Chinese hackers penetrated the computers of the finance, defence, and treasury departments in Canada.

Chinese officials have often taken a hostile stance against Canada’s allies. In a Chinese-language propaganda video released in 2015 to commemorate China’s World War II victory against Japan, Chinese military is shown destroying U.S. maritime forces and occupying the Japanese island of Okinawa.

A 2013 documentary film produced by two senior generals in the Chinese military labels the United States as China’s enemy.

‘Eyes Wide Open’ Beats Naiveté

Although an interview with a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson wasn’t possible, department spokesperson Natasha Nystrom said in an emailed statement that Canada is in the early stages of exploratory trade talks with China.

“We are also seeking Canadians’ views on whether and how to pursue a Canada-China FTA [free trade agreement]. The government’s approach is one that puts the interests of Canadians, including the opportunities that exist for the middle class and crucially, our values, front and centre,” Nystrom wrote.

John McCallum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former immigration minister and now Canada’s ambassador to China, said in an interview with the Toronto Star that he is eager to do “even more” than already suggested by Trudeau to improve relations with China. He insisted the Trudeau government will ensure that promoting and protecting human rights remains a priority, and any agreements with China will take these concerns into account.

I think they’re being really naive and really don’t necessarily understand who they’re dealing with.

— Randy Hoback, MP

Randy Hoback, a Conservative MP and vice-chair of the parliamentary committee on international trade, says Canadian administrators shouldn’t be naive when dealing with China.

“They were going to allow the approval of the telecom company out of Montreal, where our security people are saying ‘no way, you cannot let this happen.’ This should be a very dangerous precedent,” says Hoback.

“You have to go into this type of situation with your eyes wide open, and I think they’re being really naive and really don’t necessarily understand who they’re dealing with.”

With reporting by Matthew Little

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A photo of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) platform outside its headquarters in Beijing, Kina. After Canada approved CNOOC’s takeover of Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen, it vowed to reject any future foreign takeovers in the oil sands sector by state-owned companies. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)A photo of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) platform outside its headquarters in Beijing, Kina. After Canada approved CNOOC’s takeover of Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen, it vowed to reject any future foreign takeovers in the oil sands sector by state-owned companies. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)

Canada’s need to attract foreign capital and China’s desire for strategic investments abroad are playing an elaborate game of cat and mouse.

Business ties between the two are deepening. Canada and China are currently engaged in free-trade talks and Canada proposes to invest $256 million over five years to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). To år siden, the two countries opened the first North American renminbi trading hub in Toronto.

De Globe and Mail recently reported that as part of China’s free-trade talks with Canada, Beijing seeks “unfettered access for Chinese state-owned firms to all key sectors of the Canadian economy.” But experts say state-owned enterprise (SOE) investment disadvantages Canada from both economic and—coming from China—ethical perspectives.

“When it comes to Chinese investment, the biggest issue is state-owned enterprises,” said Jack Mintz, President’s Fellow of The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, in a phone interview.

On March 27, de Liberals reversed en 2015 Harper government ruling that prevented a Chinese takeover of Montreal high-tech firm ITF Technologies due to national security concerns. The newly approved purchase by O-Net Communications gives China an edge in weapons technology.

Foreign investment has historically been a critical component of building Canada, said Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz in a speech at Durham College in Oshawa on March 28. His speech pushed for open economies and noted that foreign investment is needed to fund infrastructure in Canada given the inadequate domestic savings base and relatively small population with its vast geography.

Last fall, the Liberal government created a new federal body, the “Invest in Canada Hub,” to better coordinate efforts to attract foreign capital. The government also raised the threshold for the review of foreign purchases of Canadian companies to $1 billion in 2017—two years sooner than originally planned—and published new rules regarding takeovers with national security concerns.

When it comes to Chinese investment, the biggest issue is state-owned enterprises.

— Jack Mintz, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is beating the drum, saying Canada is a great place to invest given the sound banking system, highly educated and skilled workforce, rule of law, and low business tax costs.

SOEs

Open borders and foreign investment increase competition and put pressure on Canadian businesses to perform better. With foreign capital could come new technologies and better management.

But when it is SOEs doing the acquiring, given their tax breaks and other subsidies, it creates an uneven playing field, said Mintz.

“There’s an economic argument that we don’t want to just have high valuations for companies simply because somebody’s willing to buy them up because of some state incentive,” Mintz said.

Considerable debate surrounded the December 2012 Harper government approval of Nexen’s takeover by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

Duanjie Chen, formerly an economist at The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, wrote a report in 2013 about China’s SOEs stating that the Chinese government had engineered their phenomenal growth by granting them cheap or free inputs (hovedstad, eiendom, etc.), “in order to create globally dominant corporate powers.”

“Placing a lower priority on human rights, the environment, social justice, and corporate rectitude give China and its SOEs an edge that have helped them in their goal of leapfrogging competing world economic powers, including Canada,” Chen wrote.

We have to make sure there are clear benefits to the Canadian economy if we enter into an agreement.

— Jack Mintz, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

“Without these explicit and implicit subsidies, China’s SOEs have actually proven to be far less economically competitive than their private-sector rivals,” Chen added.

“I don’t have a problem with private companies coming into Canada and buying assets,” Mintz said, but noted that with SOEs, Canada is not getting the benefits of foreign investment and actually gets negative benefits.

Bumps in the Road

According to a new report by research firm Rhodium Group and global law firm White & Case, China became the second-largest source of foreign investment in 2016, with US$140 billion or 14 percent of the global total.

The report makes the case that Chinese capital is still vastly under-deployed globally. But deploying the capital is starting to meet with resistance.

Outbound deals from China have been slowing so far in 2017. As of March 20, just US$25 billion in deals, which is 70 percent less than the same period in 2016, have been announced, i henhold til en CNBC report citing Dealogic data.

Tighter capital controls in China to stem the decline in the yuan appear to be making Beijing more selective with its outbound foreign investment.

China is also facing increased scrutiny of its investments abroad, although Canada is making strides in the opposite direction. Certain sectors are believed to be more strategic for Chinese capital deployment, such as natural resources and technology—two areas that point Canada’s way.

A Nexen oil sands facility near Fort McMurray, Canada, is seen in this aerial photograph on July 10, 2012. Nexen was sold to China's CNOOC Ltd. in December 2012. (The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh)

A Nexen oilsands facility near Fort McMurray, Canada, is seen in this aerial photograph on July 10, 2012. Nexen was sold to China’s CNOOC Ltd. in December 2012. (The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh)

A complaint commonly levelled against China is a lack of reciprocity. “China has only made limited progress in further levelling the playing field for foreign companies in China, which still face numerous formal investment restrictions as well as alleged informal discrimination,” according to the Rhodium Group and White & Case report.

“This lack of reciprocal openness is fuelling particular frustration in advanced economies, which follow principles of openness and non-discrimination for Chinese and other foreign investors.”

Particularly with sectors of the Chinese economy dominated by SOEs, Chen stated, “And unlike Canada, China jealously guards the sectors in which its SOEs exert absolute or strong control, disallowing any private-sector competitors—domestic or foreign—free entry.”

In attracting foreign investment, Mintz advises Canada to put strong limits on SOEs. “It’s a matter of principle," han sa. “SOEs are compromised by the politics they have to work with. And that includes mixed enterprises,” Mintz said.

Mixed enterprises are partially state-owned. The Rhodium Group, which tracks Chinese investment in the United States, breaks down the ownership of the investment into government-owned versus at least 80 percent privately owned. But U.S. and Canadian intelligence agencies have warned in the past that even non-state-owned firms act in the interests of the Chinese government.

“We have to make sure there are clear benefits to the Canadian economy if we enter into an agreement,” Mintz said.

Canada is an exporting nation and China is the world’s second-largest economy. It seems inevitable that more Chinese capital will find a home in Canada.

“We want all of this to be fair and China is not always fair,” said Paul Frazer, president of PD Frazer Associates, a Washington-based government affairs consultant, in a phone interview.

The Harper government had taken a harder stance on China’s foreign acquisitions, but the Liberals appear to be reversing that stance with an eye on completing a free-trade agreement with China.

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Gordon Chang was a bit early when he wrote the book “The Coming Collapse of China” in 2001.

He predicted the collapse of the Chinese economy and the downfall of the communist party within ten years and his prediction is four years overdue.

derimot, the core arguments he made in the book are more valid than ever as Chang continues to provide us with an uncensored behind-the-scenes view of the Chinese political economy.

Epoch Times spoke to Chang about a superficially stable China in 2017 and what is causing the real friction under the surface.

Epoch Times: China managed to stabilize its economy in 2016, will the regime be able to continue in 2017?

Gordon Chang: China looks strong but it’s actually weak. It has passed the point of no return.

They put in an enormous amount of debt, and they did stabilize the economy. The manufacturing sector is a beneficiary; we are starting to see some inflation. But the cost of this is enormous. It’s the old tactics of using debt to generate growth. It shows desperation more than anything.

There are some things that China should do regarding reform in 2017, but they won’t get it done because of the political imperative. This year we have a half a decade event, the party congress in the fall of this year, where they will either announce a new leader or Xi Jinping remains in control. That is a critical one.

I think they will be successful holding the line through the party congress. After that, they are going to fail.

So they are going to try and hold the line. Xi Jinping has relentlessly taken the economics portfolio from Li Keqiang. He gets the credit, but he also gets the blame. He is not going to want to see a major disruptive event between now and the party congress. It should be obvious, but a lot of people take this into account.

I think they will be successful holding the line through the party congress. After that, they are going to fail. They are going to prevent adjustments for as long as they have the ability to do so. Their ability to create jobs, holding the GDP growth close to 7, all of this stuff they are going to try and do.

Even if it was growing at the official rate, China is creating debt 5x faster than incremental GDP. Beijing can grow the economy with ghost cities and high-speed railways to nowhere but that’s not free, it’s not sustainable.

After the party congress, China is going to go into free fall.

The only thing that can change the Chinese economy is fundamental economic reform. But they are moving in a regressive manner, Beijing is stimulating again. It’s taking China away from a consumption economy, toward the state, away from private companies.

China is not going to have another 2008, it’s going to be a Chinese 1929.

The Chinese dream wants a strong state, and it’s not compatible with market reform. Even if Xi were up for liberalize and change, it would be too little too late. Stimulus is going to increase the underlying imbalances. That’s going to make it more difficult to adjust.

Epoch Times: What is happening beneath the superficial stability?

MR. Chang: Look at what happened last year, capital outflows were probably higher than 2015. Og 2015 was unprecedented, somewhere between $900 billion and a $1 trillion dollars.

The Chinese people see what other people have seen and it doesn’t make sense anymore. They see the economy is not growing. People are concerned about the political direction of the country, and people see the end is not that far away, so they move their money out.

People are also leaving. Young Chinese used to come to America to get an education; then they went back. Now Chinese kids get an education, they try to work for an investment bank, and they try to stay. Things are not as good at home as Beijing maintains.

To stop the capital outflows and maintain stability, they put in draconian capital controls starting in October, november 2016.

They put some real limitations on outbound investment for corporates and multinationals. They can do this, but how much longer? They are disincentivizing people to put money into China because they don’t know they can take it out again. In spite of the controls, they had record outflows. Capital outflows in the second half, when the controls started, were higher than in the first half.

They are going to continue to smooth things out after the Congress, but they won’t have the ability to continue the game. The whole thing is about confidence, and there is a failure of confidence in China.

Epoch Times: They are also using their foreign exchange reserves to manage the decline of the currency. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) for example says the $3 trillion they have is enough to run the economy.

Gordon Chang: They can just give you any number, and you don’t know whether it’s the right one, just like GDP. You cannot go to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SIKKER) and look through their books. They can report anything, and you don’t’ know. They have a high incentive to fake that number.

We also know they have a synthetic short position because they are selling derivatives through the state banks. If you look at the estimates of foreign exchange reserves each month, they always outperform the surveys. China always outperforms, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the FX number can’t be right. Misreporting their FX reserve declines minimizes the problems, so people keep believing in the currency.

They can report anything, and you don’t’ know. They have a high incentive to fake that number.

So I think they don’t have the $3 billioner. They have done the trick Brazil pulled in 2014 of selling derivatives instead of actual dollars. According to my sources, there’s $500 billion dollars still to be accounted for.

Then there are illiquid investments in the Chinese foreign exchange reserves, rundt $1 billioner. According to my estimates, you are then down to $1.5 trillion in usable money to defend the currency. The FX reserves aren’t as big and as liquid as Beijing wants them to be.

Epoch Times: So they will have to devalue sooner or later.

Gordon Chang: I don’t think they are going to devalue before the 19th party congress later this year.

Then they are going to devalue, but not as far north of eight [current rate is 6.9 per dollar] as it needs to be. The insufficient devaluation will shake confidence; people think it’s not enough, it has to be more. Eventually, someone is going to figure out that their reserve numbers are wrong. But the one thing they need to defend their currency is foreign currency.

Xi Jinping says the Chinese dream is a strong China. So he is responsible for everything and depreciation never benefits the Chinese consumers. They continue to make stupid decisions. It’s the political system; the political imperative is too strong. It would be too embarrassing to do wholesale reform. He wants to appear strong. They have always tried to prevent natural economic adjustments—by doing that they have made the underlying imbalances bigger.

So in the end, China is not going to have another 2008, it’s going to be a Chinese 1929.

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Grace in Ancient Times illustration by Epoch TimesGrace in Ancient Times illustration by Epoch Times

Qi Xi (620-545 B.C.) was a Minister of State for Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period. He was a selfless, broad-minded person who handled matters in a fair and just manner.

The encyclopedic Chinese classic text Lushi Chunqiu from around 239 B.C —also known as The Annals of Lu Buwei, prime minister of the state of Qin—recorded that when Qi Xi recommended people for public service, he only wished for the good ones to be appointed and disregarded whether the people he recommended had opposed him, or whether they were his own kin.

One day, the Duke of Jin asked Qi: “There is an opening for county magistrate at Nan Yang. Who could be assigned to this post?"

Qi replied: “Xie Hu could be assigned to this post”

The Duke said: “Was Xie Hu not your enemy? How come you recommend him?"

“Your Highness was asking who could handle this job, not who is my enemy!” said Qi.

The Duke then appointed Xie Hu as county magistrate of Nan Yang. It turned out that he really did a good job and the people were full of praise for him.

Qi Xi's statue stands in Qi County in Shanxi Province. This was Qi Xi's land territory to provide him with remuneration. (Internet photo)

Qi Xi’s statue stands in Qi County in Shanxi Province. This was Qi Xi’s land territory to provide him with remuneration. (Internet photo)

After a while, the Duke asked Qi another question: “We need a high ranking army officer in the capital. Who could handle this post?"

Qi replied: “Qi Wu can do it.”

The Duke said: “Is Qi Wu not your son? How come you recommend your own son?"

“Your Highness was asking who could handle this job as a high ranking army officer, not asking who is my son!” said Qi.

The Duke then appointed Qi Wu to the post. He really did a good job and received praise from everyone.

When Confucius heard about this, he said to his students: “To recommend your enemy is not being toady; to put forward your son should not be for self-benefit; only when one has high merit can one recommend people like this. Qi Xi was, derfor, a real selfless, fair one!"

Edited by Damian Robin.

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  • Merker:, , ,
  • Forfatter: <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/zhu-li/" rel="author">Zhu Li</en>, <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/" title="Epoch Times" rel="publisher">Epoch Times</en>
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Cargo trucks drive through a container pool at a seaport in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province in this file photo. Canada aims to do more business with China amid a rising wave of protectionism. (Chinatopix via AP) Cargo trucks drive through a container pool at a seaport in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province in this file photo. Canada aims to do more business with China amid a rising wave of protectionism. (Chinatopix via AP)

While protectionist sentiment is on the rise, Canadian businesses are being encouraged to do more with China, which appears to be in stark contrast to the message U.S. businesses are getting from the incoming Trump administration.

The experience of U.S. businesses in China is worsening. The Canadian government and businesses have to be clear on their objectives in dealing with China in order to succeed, as well as be wary and able to recognize when Chinese actions are not necessarily of long-term Canadian benefit, i følge Paul Frazer, president of PD Frazer Associates and a Washington-based government affairs consultant on Canada-U.S. relations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle aims at strengthening Canada’s business relationship with China. i mellomtiden, president-elect Donald Trump’s tough talk on China has ranged from losses of American jobs to currency manipulation. He has appointed hardline trade representatives to continue to be tough on China.

“I don’t think that what Mr. Trump does with China will necessarily spill over negatively to what Canada would like to do with China,” Frazer said in a telephone interview. Frazer has previously served as minister of public affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, as the consulate general in New York, and in Prague as ambassador to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Working with China is a much heavier lift.

— Paul Frazer, President, PD Frazer Associates

But Frazer seems to hold some skepticism about what Canada is trying to accomplish with China. “I’m not sure we have a clear picture of what Canada wants to do with China yet either, or how it’s going to go about trying to achieve specific objectives.”

Frazer has advocated for the Canadian government to blaze its own trail and not simply ride the coattails of the United States in international relations.

Canadian businesses realize that its biggest growth opportunities lie in China; derimot, the biggest challenge has been the ease with which it can do business in the United States, said Frazer. The United States has the infrastructure, rule of law, and transparency that China doesn’t.

“Working with China is a much heavier lift, as you can imagine,” Frazer said.

‘Buy America’

The rise of the protectionist spectre is not new and “Buy America” isn’t something that has just emerged recently, Frazer said. “It goes back many years and every time it’s proved to be harmful.”

With supply chains deeply integrated across Canada, the United States, Mexico, and globally, the worry is the knee-jerk reaction to stronger calls to embed “Buy America” wherever it can be done. How that could trigger responses of a similar nature in other parts of the world, which can signal a downward spiral of increased protectionism, is something nobody wants to see, said Frazer. This would seriously threaten jobs in both Canada and the United States.

Canadian businesses have been saying that regulations and trade barriers are already hurting export growth, according to the Bank of Canada’s Business Outlook Survey released Jan. 9. “The perception of rising protectionism leads a number of businesses to maintain or build a foreign presence,” the BoC stated.

China won’t be accustomed to dealing with the likes of Trump and this could make it more eager to do business with Canada, albeit on a much smaller scale.

“Where the Canadians will have to be careful is to recognize where they may be taken advantage of, where they’re more a pawn in a bigger game,” said Frazer.

At next week’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, China will be front and centre with a “larger-than-ever” delegation headed by president Xi Jinping, “underscoring China’s determination to assume a global leadership role as other major powers are hobbled by domestic infighting,” according to a Bloomberg rapportere. den US-. presence will be minimal by historical standards.

Canada is in a vulnerable position due to its dependence on exports. The economy has been in the doldrums since late 2014 due to weak commodity prices and flagging export growth.

With the rising cost of production in China, investors may start looking elsewhere the longer it takes to establish greater transparency in regulations and the rule of law.

Some German and U.S. companies believe protectionist sentiment is rising in China. The German automakers have to use local partners to manufacture cars in China.

The most recent American Chamber of Commerce survey, conducted earlier this year, showed that regulatory obstacles are forcing a small portion of U.S. companies to move activities away from China. Eighty-three percent of tech, industriell, and natural resource sector companies are the most downbeat on Beijing’s attitude toward foreign companies. OSS. businesses in China were less profitable in China in 2015 as compared to 2014.

OSS. Politics

A good deal of uncertainty faces Canadian businesses, which are in a wait-and-see mode, according to a Bloomberg interview with John Manley, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.

As Trump’s inauguration approaches, the focus is turning to how the administration will function.

Getting things done is not a slam dunk and the Republican Party is not really united, said Frazer. “It’s papered over at the moment because they have a president who brought them to the dance very successfully,” Frazer said.

He also said that due to the natural tension between the White House and Congress, there could be a rocky patch after Jan. 20 as a number of issues are broached—including health-care reform.

“It’s not a parliamentary system,” Frazer said. “It’s not a prime minister with a majority.

“It’s a president who has to rely on the cooperation, collaboration, and the ability to persuade the folks in Congress to do what he would like to see done.

“And they will push back.”

With additional reporting from Fan Yu

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1.6 million people in China die every year because of air pollution, so many people protect themselves using face masks. (AOL Screenshot)1.6 million people in China die every year because of air pollution, so many people protect themselves using face masks. (AOL Screenshot)

Beijing-based designer Zhijun Wang makes antipollution masks by re-purposing running shoes. Så, smog masks just got more fashionable.

The evolution of smog masks can seem dystopian, but they’re an important safety precaution in China. 1.6 million people in China die every year because of air pollution.

“Every day I have to think about it. I have to wear a face mask to go outside. Is tomorrow going to be so horrifying that I won’t be able to run outside? So I thought, ‘Can I use my own approach to express how I feel about this?’” Wang said.

Runners in Beijing are particularly affected by pollution. It’s recommended that they check the Air Quality Index for smog levels, wear masks during their workout, and even skip days with unsafe pollution levels.

So as pollution gets worse and smog masks get more elaborate, it seems pretty fitting to see designer masks made from running shoes.

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