By Tenzin Dharpo
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Dec. 5, 2017. Photo-The Canadian Press
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 6: The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is on visit to China said that he raised issues related to human rights, objection to death penalty as well as fate of imprisoned Canadians in China. He addressed the issues with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who assured discussions with President Xi Jinping later on.
Trudeau told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, “We can have strong and frank discussions about issues that we see differently without endangering the positive relationship we have.
“Whenever I meet with world leaders, I bring up the issues of human rights. This is no exception. I brought them up last night — human rights and consular cases with Premier Li and I will certainly be addressing those issues with President Xi.”
However, there is no clear indication if such talks were cursory footnotes under the larger economic goals for which Trudeau’s administration were there for and to ward off human rights activists who have criticised the Canadian PM’s waning efforts on the particular front.
Tibetan President Dr. Lobsang Sangay earlier last month in an interview with BBC said that while China’s economic prowess grows, nations in the free world should not side-step fundamental issues for trade commitments.
“Human rights, democracy, environmental rights, all these discourse are diminished or diluted in all the countries where they have free trade agreement. I have been to Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Norway just recently and they all don’t want to talk much about Tibet, human right, democracy. This is you know quiet scary because there is lot of self censorship going on,” the head of the Tibetan polity told noted TV journalist Yalda Hakim on her program 'The Impact'.
The Harvard educated statesman also questioned, “the issue is should we transform China and make them look more like us, liberal democracy, or should we transform to look more like China. That’s the choice. So hence we have to take a principle stand. Of course you must have free trade, you must engage with China, but don’t give free-pass.”
Prior to Canadian PM’s visit to China, Students for a Free Tibet, an activist group urged the Canadian government to speak up on human rights issue in China and particularly Tibet where atrocities on Tibetans have been a ground reality for over few decades now.