Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Michael Ignatieff's Sino-Cluelessness

Ignatieff fails to account for Chinese human rights record

Posting on the National Post's Full Comment blog, Ezra Levant has some choice words for Liberal leader Michaelf Ignatieff.

Ignatieff, Levant insists, has spoken "false praise to power".

In a speech delivered at China's Tsinghua University, Ignatieff embraced Jean Chretien's craven approach to China; all he needed to do to make it complete was swap the phrase "good governance and rule of law" for "human rights".

In fact, despite China's human rights record -- the Chinese Communist Party's legacy written in blood -- Ignatieff's greatest human rights-related barbs were reserved for Canada.

"I am a proud Canadian, proud of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the rights we accord religious and linguistic minorities, and the constitutional acknowledgement of our Aboriginal peoples," Ignatieff said. "I will defend these achievements everywhere, but I am not blind to the gap that exists between our ideals and reality for some of my fellow citizens. Indeed, I am in politics to narrow that gap."

Canada certainly hasn't always been perfect. But it's drawn the line at harvesting the organs of religious minorities to sell internationally, as China has done to practitioners of Falun Gong -- an abuse revealled internationally by Liberal Party icon Irwin Cotler.

In fact, Ignatieff spoke very softly about China's human rights record.

"In my classroom at Harvard, there were vigorous debates about China," Ignatieff continued. "My Chinese students did not always see eye to eye with other students on such issues as the death penalty, the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, access to the Internet and the largest issue of all, to what degree, to what extent, and at what level, economic liberalization should be followed by increased democratic rights."

"But I made it clear that the ultimate decision about these questions will be made, not by foreigners, but by the Chinese people themselves," he naively added.

Of course, the world remembers what happened the last time too many Chinese citizens tried to campaign for democratic freedoms in China. The state ran them down with tanks.

Many Chinese citizens today still do not know about the Tiananmen Square massacre. They are generally not taught that it took place, nor was it covered by the Chinese media of the day.

The farther away within China one lives from Beijing, the more unlikely one is to know about the events of June 4, 1989. Ignatieff, speaking just one month removed from the 20th anniversary of that atrocity, has no such excuse.

Perhaps some would see it as fitting that Michael Ignatieff, the grandson of a Russian diplomat who, by Ignatieff's own admission, once effectively bilked China out of some border provinces would try to make amends by so blatantly caving in to the Chinese phenomenon of "shame diplomacy" -- attempting to shame foreigners out of criticizing China's human rights policies.

An honest Canadian leader would broke no such pressure. Canadians who believe in human rights were rightly embarrassed by Jean Chretien's cowardly approach to this topic.

Michael Ignatieff has embarrassed us again -- but at least he hasn't embarrassed us as Prime Minister.

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