LILLEY: Ignore China’s warning that Canada should learn its lesson

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The only lesson Canada should take away from the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is that the Chinese government cannot and should not be trusted.

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While officials in Beijing are prattling on about what Canada should learn from this ordeal, officials in Ottawa should ignore them.

In a news conference that was completely detached from reality, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, claimed that Kovrig and Spavor had confessed to their crimes, admitted guilt, had only been released for medical reasons and that their release had nothing to do with the release of Meng Wanzhou.

The release of Meng, though, was a moment of glory for China and its diplomacy, she said.

“The Meng Wanzhou incident is a political frame-up and persecution against a Chinese citizen, an act designed to hobble Chinese high-tech companies. Now Ms. Meng Wanzhou has returned to China safe and sound,” Hua said.

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“Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, suspected of committing crimes endangering national security of China, applied for release on bail for medical reasons.”

She then went on to say that Canada should learn from this.

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“The Canadian side should not have done the dirty work for the U.S. Canada should draw lessons and start from its own interests,” Hua said.

China is a country that wants an extradition treaty with Canada and other western nations but has been highly critical of Canada arresting Meng under an extradition request from the American government.

It should be noted that the case against Meng and Huawei dates to President Barack Obama’s time in office, even though her detention took place under the Trump administration and continued under President Joe Biden.

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Her arrest was not some political move cooked up by Trump; it started and ended in the Department of Justice in Washington.

The extradition hearings in Canada followed the rule of law. The Trudeau government was right to stand firm on that front, despite pressure to give into hostage diplomacy and release her in exchange for the two Michaels.

The Chinese government doesn’t respect the rule of law because their system of government is not based upon it. They have engaged in not only hostage-taking to get their way, but they continue with bully diplomacy even after getting their Huawei princess back.

The lesson that Hua is warning us about is that next time Canada should do what China wants. I wish I could say this was an idle threat, but we’ve just gone through China holding two of our citizens for more than 1,000 days to make a point.

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Despite Beijing still maintaining the cases were not related, we all know the truth.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said over the weekend that the government’s eyes are wide open on China and that the position of the Trudeau government towards China is coexist, compete, cooperate and challenge.

There will inevitably be things that we need to challenge the Chinese government on, including blocking Huawei from our 5G system. That reward cannot be granted after they kidnapped our citizens.

To effectively challenge the dictators in Beijing, though, we will need our allies on side. As the recent announcement of the security and defence pact between the U.K., U.S. and Australia shows, we have some ground to make up with our allies on the trust side.

  1. Michael Kovrig, centre right, waves to media as his wife Vina Nadjibulla, centre left, and sister Ariana Botha after his arrival at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians who were imprisoned in China for nearly three years are home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

    THE SWEET TASTE OF FREEDOM: The two Michael’s are free and back on Canadian soil

  2. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor back to Canada at Calgary airport Saturday morning.

    GOLDSTEIN: Trudeau right about two Michaels, wrong about China

  3. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is out on bail in Vancouver living a life of luxury and enjoying holiday visits from family amid the pandemic while Canada's Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain hostages imprisoned in China.

    LILLEY: Canada’s two Michaels finally freed from Chinese prison

We were excluded from that pact because the Trudeau Liberals have been seen as too weak in dealing with Beijing.

Hopefully, with this ordeal behind us, the new “eyes wide open” foreign policy will take a tougher stand and side with our allies while ignoring threats from the likes of Hua.

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