By Tenzin Zompa
CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay. Photo-Japan Forward
Dharamshala, June 19: The President of the Central Tibetan Administration, the de facto Tibetan government in exile, this week alerted Canada to be careful when engaging with China in trade agreements. Sangay was speaking in an interview with the Canada’s National Post
Sangay, currently in his second term at the helm of the exile political hierarchy, said, “Especially amid recent uncertainty with Canada’s biggest trade partner, the United States, it makes economic sense to engage with China”.
The Harvard educated lawyer however added, “But Canada should be careful not to self-censor or turn a blind eye to human rights abuses by the Chinese government”. He mentioned Australia’s Free Trade agreement with China in 2015, saying it’s a trend followed by every nation that has trade relation with China.
Sangay said that countries should avoid self-censorship of rights at the expense of establishing trade relations with China. “One should enter into trade with China. You do business with China. You have to have a relationship with China. You can’t avoid it, you can’t ignore it and you should make money.
“But you know, what I’ve noticed is the moment there’s a trade agreement with China, all of a sudden these countries start resorting to self-censorship. First Tibet, then Tiananmen, then Taiwan and all of the environmental and labour issues and women’s rights issues in China,” the Tibetan President said.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been moving forward to establish free trade negotiations with China but his “progressive” approach fails to meet its need with a government whose officials consider labour and gender issues to be “non-trade” concerns.
A former ambassador to China had told the National Post
that when Trudeau travelled to China in December, the reason free trade negotiations were not announced was that Canada wanted to include a reference to labour issues in a press release but that China wouldn’t allow it.
Sangay said emerging concerns should get more notice from Western governments, such as China’s new “social credit” system, already being sold to other countries’ governments after successful piloting in Tibet, and its policing of behaviour by facial recognition.
“The Canadian government should speak out not necessarily as a criticism but as a matter of fact. The type of things that’s happening, if it’s wrong it’s wrong, if it’s right it’s right,” Sangay said.
Dr. Sangay said he hopes the Canadian government can nudge the Chinese government in the right direction, and help encourage it to establish diplomatic talks with the exiled Tibetan officials in India.