Tag Archives: Red China

Criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of coronavirus is not racism

Posted on by

Criticism of the Chinese government’s handling of coronavirus is not racism

Marcus Kolga: By wrapping themselves in ethno-nationalist rhetoric, the Chinese Communist Party often claims that a critique of their actions is equivalent to a critique of their people—a tried and true tactic in the authoritarian playbook

Marcus Kolga is a digital communications strategist and expert on foreign disinformation. He is a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad.

When we criticize the actions of governments run by autocrats and dictators, like those in Russia and China, we must bear in mind that it is not the citizens who are responsible for their government’s abuse and negligence; they are in fact, the greatest victims of it.

For instance, the Chinese people bear no responsibility for their government’s illegitimate imprisonment of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Hussein Celil. It is also the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) criminal negligence that directly contributed to the mass outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, and the ensuing pandemic we face today. In fact, I very much doubt the families of China’s COVID-19 victims are celebrating their government’s actions today.

When we criticize the actions of these governments, we must be very specific and accurate in directing our criticism towards those who are in power. In the case of China, it is the Communist Party that holds exclusive decision-making power, and in Russia, the Putin regime. In both cases, the people of these nations have no meaningful say in the decision-making process of their governments, and face arrest and imprisonment for criticizing them.

MORE: When will the Chinese government be held accountable for the spread of coronavirus?

By generalizing our disapproval and outrage towards the citizens of these regimes, we risk hurting and stigmatizing these communities, and that plays directly into the disinformation warfare tactics that such regimes are engaged in against the Western world, including accusations of “racism.”

Authoritarian regimes frequently label foreign criticism of their policies as “racist” as a way to delegitimize them and polarize debate. By wrapping themselves in ethno-nationalist rhetoric, these regimes often claim that a critique of their actions is equivalent to a critique of the people itself; this heightens the need to be precise with our language and aware of the propaganda efforts of authoritarian regimes. It’s a tried and true tactic in the authoritarian playbook.

China’s former ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, accused the Canadian government of “white supremacy” last year, when Canada demanded the release of its citizens who had been arbitrarily detained in China, in retaliation after Canada complied with a U.S. extradition request for Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou.

MORE: China kidnapped two Canadians. What will it take to free them?

Last week, the E.U. published a report that warned Vladimir Putin is seeking to use the COVID-19 pandemic to destabilize Western nations and undermine our alliances. The report states that the Russian government’s cynical disinformation attack is designed to “aggravate the public health crisis in Western countries, specifically by undermining public trust in national health care systems, thus preventing an effective response to the outbreak.”

In the apparent absence of any evidence that would disprove the E.U. claim, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Pskov accused the E.U. of “Russophobia” in an effort to intimidate European policy-makers, critics and media into silence.

The same tactic has been used by the Russian government to discredit Canadian political leaders, like Chrystia Freeland, whose Ukrainian background has been cited as tainting her judgment. Putin critics, like myself, have also been labelledRussophobic” for advocating for Canadian Magnitsky human rights legislation, a law that was lauded as the most pro-Russian measure that any Western government could take, according to assassinated Russian pro-democracy opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov.

Yet the concerns of Canadians who are worried about ethnic communities being stigmatized by the global pandemic must not be dismissed either. As the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin has pointed out, President Trump’s recent reference to COVID-19 being a “Chinese virus” is “simplistic but technically accurate,” and plays into the hands of Chinese Communist Party propagandists, who in turn use this to provoke anti-Trump and anti-Western sentiments.

Leading U.S.-based Chinese human rights activist Jianli Yang told me that he “may not like the term ‘Chinese virus’ that President Trump has been using in the past few days,” but he doesn’t believe “it is intended by him for any racist meaning.” He believes that Trump was using the term to counter the Chinese government’s attempts to “divert responsibility for its mishandling of the outbreak which has resulted in this global pandemic.”

Yang believes that “there should be and must be a moment when all, victimized individuals and countries, come together to hold the CCP regime accountable.”

Here in Canada, we can be fairly certain that our governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, at all three levels of government, have been shaped by our sensitivity to potential accusations of racism by Chinese government propaganda. Why else did Canada refrain from limiting travel from Hubei and China, only to close off virtually all foreign travel mere weeks later?

Canada is not alone in facing such foul accusations.

In Sweden, a former, long-serving Swedish MP, Gunnar Hökmark, wrote in a recent opinion piece that “China’s leaders should apologize to the world for epidemics coming from China because of the dictatorship’s failure to address food safety, animal standards, and because its repression of truth and the freedom of its own citizens.” China’s ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou condemned the statement and accused Hökmark of “stigmatizing” China. China’s ambassador also went on to criticize Hökmark, his colleague Patrik Oksanen and their think tank, the Stockholm Free World Forum, for being part of an “anti-China political machine” and for “attacking, slandering and stigmatizing China.”

Canadians and our government must take great care to avoid generalizations that risk stigmatizing Canadians of Chinese heritage, or any other community, whose governments engage in similar repressive behaviour, including the Russian and Iranian regimes. However, we must also be alert to regime propagandists who seek to dismiss and silence legitimate criticism of their actions when they smear critics with false accusations of “racism.”

As Jianli Yang underlined for me, “the Chinese Communist regime is not justified in accusing anyone of racism, who criticize its early-stage covering up of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the latest information (disinformation) war against other countries.”

Justin Trudeau on Castro’s Death- a PM without Common Sense

Posted on by
Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadain Association for Freedom of Expression gloats with talk show host Brian Ruhe about How Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuc…
Published on Dec 2, 2016

Paul Fromm, Director of the Canadain Association for Freedom of Expression gloats with talk show host Brian Ruhe about How Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stuck his foot in his mouth by overpraisingFidel Castro in his eulogy. Brian and Paul discuss the theory that Justin Trudeau is the son of Fidel Castro!

Below is a FAIR USE of an article by PAUL WELLS, National Affairs, Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, at:
https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2…

I want to talk about the rest of Canada’s weird, hesitant relationship with Cuba. But first, since I’m just getting to it now, a few words about Justin Trudeau and Fidel Castro.

We haven’t seen Justin Trudeau mourn like this since his dad died. In expressing his “deep sorrow” at the death of Castro, a “larger than life” figure whom Trudeau lauded as “a legendary orator” —

Sorry, let’s just pause right there. Legendary orator? On Sept. 26, 1960, Castro addressed the United Nations General Assembly for four and a half hours, a record unchallenged to this day in the most boring room on earth. In 1998 in Havana, he spoke for seven and a half hours. Calling Castro a great orator is like calling porn legend Ron Jeremy a romantic: it confuses volume with quality.

Onward. Trudeau lauded Castro’s “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people,” whose speech and dietary protein Castro rationed, by law, for decades. I guess it was tough love.

To be sure, Trudeau balanced his praise with criticism. “During Castro’s rule, thousands of Cubans were incarcerated in abysmal prisons, thousands more were harassed and intimidated, and entire generations were denied basic political freedoms,” the prime minister wrote. Just kidding! No, that last quote isn’t from Justin Trudeau at all. It’s from Human Rights Watch. As for the PM, in a communiqué overflowing with praise for Castro, he could find room for only one word about the Cuban dictator’s human rights record: “controversial.”

Nor can the PM’s defenders long sustain the notion that his statement must have been penned by some careless lackey in the Prime Minister’s Office. No, the communiqué is too solidly in line with the entire Trudeau family’s record on the man to be anything but an honest reflection of Justin Trudeau’s thought.

Castro was a pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau’s funeral. The PM’s brother Alexandre Trudeau wrote in this newspaper a decade ago that Castro was “something of a superman,” whose “intellect is one of the most broad and complete that can be found.” Alexandre Trudeau wrote that he “grew up knowing that Fidel Castro had a special place among my family’s friends,” even if ordinary Cubans “do occasionally complain, often as an adolescent might complain about a too strict and demanding father.”

One notes family similarities in prose style.

Justin Trudeau is defending the statement he made following the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. The prime minister says he never shies away from addressing human rights issues.(THE CANADIAN PRESS)
So a prime minister who claims to prize evidence-based policy was caught putting family connections ahead of the exhaustively documented abuses of a man whose death marks a crucial step in his own people’s long-delayed march toward freedom.

But the rest of us — we cold and bashful Canadians — will probably continue to watch Cuba as we have for decades, unsure or divided in our response to events in the land Fidel Castro leaves behind.

Exhibit A in the theatre of ambivalence is Justin Trudeau’s predecessor. Stephen Harper met Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and still the president of Cuba, only 19 months ago, attending what would be Harper’s last Summit of the Americas in Panama City. The two men sat smiling awkwardly at each other in hard-backed chairs next to a little round table.

Probably most Canadians not named Trudeau have long known that Cubans did not have the government Canadians would want for them — and, indeed, not the government Cubans would choose, were they granted the freedom to change their minds about the revolution. But that knowledge doesn’t tell us which mix of engagement and isolation is wisest.

Most Canadian leaders have fallen back on a policy of doing a little less than the Americans. It’s a deeply unsatisfying policy. John Diefenbaker resisted putting Canadian forces on a war footing during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Harper let Obama decide on a change in stance, providing only conference facilities and plausible deniability.

Having blown some political capital by saying what he thinks, Trudeau is now going to skip Fidel Castro’s funeral. It’s a retreat to ambivalence dictated by a public outcry that must have astonished the prime minister, who grew up with a photo of Fidel Castro in his family’s home and thought, perhaps, that everybody does.

Paul Wells is a national affairs writer. His column usually appears Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.