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July 2, 2019

Celil for Meng

Reuel S. Amdur

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"When it comes to Ms. Meng there has been no political interference. . . and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed." That is what Christia Freeland, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the media in Washington on June 13. Let's see how that might play out.

In the first place, Meng Wanzhou can play out the extradition case in the courts for years.  During that time, Canadians will be held in custody in China in nasty conditions.  Our interests in agricultural sales to China will be stymied.  One or two of our nationals convicted of drug offences could be executed.  Then,  if she is deported to the U.S.,  Trump has made it clear that he is prepared to let her go in exchange for trade concessions.  Thus, Canada, playing by the rules, experiences serious multi-year damage in order to enable the U.S. to flout the rules, if indeed we can agree that Freeland’s position is the rules.  In short, “America First.”

We are asking Trump to pressure China to release two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.  We seek U.S. pressure while failing to exercise the power that we have.  Instead, we choose to be good Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, carefully playing by rules that everyone else ignores.

And by the way, it is not just two Canadians.  Canada has forgotten about Canadian citizen Imam Huseyin Celil, who has been jailed in China for 13 years.  Celil, a Uyghur human rights activist, was extradited to China from Uzbekistan where he was visiting in-laws.

Canada’s approach to China has been to treat each case separately.  China requests the extradition of a crook who has made it to Canada.  Canada gives the person a full court hearing to determine if the grounds for deportation are valid.  Before deportation, we get assurance that the death penalty will not be inflicted, and then off he goes, no quid pro quo.  Why?  Why has Canada not insisted on Celil’s release before giving China what it wants?  Freeland’s “right way to proceed” turns out to be a one-way street. 

Capitalist Communist Meng Wanzhou is very well connected with the Chinese rulers.  They are prepared to move heaven and earth on her behalf.   China needs oil seed and ordered billions of dollars worth of Canadian canola.  Cancelled.  The Chinese diet is heavily reliant on pork, and her local supply is severely impacted by an epidemic of African swine fever.  She threatens Canada with overly rigid inspections of all pork imports, as a result of which there will be spoilage.

The implication for Canada is that it is time to make a deal—Celil for Meng.  Then all the other pieces will fall into place.  Jean Chrétien is advising that we negotiate.  Our cashiered ambassador John McCallum, who wants Meng released, or Chrétien himself should be sent to China to negotiate.  Whoever is sent needs to make Celil’s release an essential element of the deal. 

Trudeau has been doing everything he can, short of going against American interests, to try to cozy up to Xi Jinping and his government. Xi would certainly prefer to deal with Trudeau rather than Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives, who well might replace Trudeau and the Liberals. Scheer has made it clear that he will not be Mr. Nice Guy in dealing with China. In response to the canola cancellation, he is prepared to withdraw from China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Xi does not want that.

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