Canada-China “military agreement” lacking in media coverage

“It is difficult to say which is more depressing. The fact that our supposedly free media is becoming either selective or negligent in its reporting, particularly with regards to Communist China, or the fact that our Conservative government is becoming more and more cozy with Beijing’s communist regime. Examining recent events, the latter should be less surprising.”

This is a guest column; ‘Mihael Willman’ is the pseudonym for a concerned Canadian – JG.

What is it about Toronto-area newspapers and TV stations who waste lots of ink and time on often irrelevant news stories, or flog to death an issue, such as the Rob Ford still unconfirmed crack-cocaine smoking video, yet when it comes to news about events of crucial national importance, there is barely so much as a whisper? (Media agencies across Canada are no better in this regard.) We already know how the Canadian media completely ignored former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s farewell tour to China, at a time just days before the Liberal party elected a new leader. Also totally ignored and unreported were any possible agreements McGuinty may have signed during this trip. He could have handed over the entire province to China and we’d have been none the wiser, thanks to our vigilancely-challenged media.

This lack of Canadian media vigilance has now been further confirmed. Conducting research this weekend, on recent news articles showing how China is spreading its tentacles around the world, I read the article by Bill Gertz, entitled: “Rising Red tide: China encircles U.S. by sailing warships in American waters, arming neighbors” which appeared June 7th, in several Washington area publications, such as The Washington Times and The Washington Free Beacon and was included in the “Bits & Pieces – Military News” section of this blog. One third of the way through the article, two simple, but earth-shattering, sentences had me wondering if I had fallen through “the looking glass” in “Alice in Wonderland.”

In the words of Bill Gertz: “North of the U.S. border, Canada this week concluded a military cooperation agreement with China during the visit to Beijing by Canadian Defense Minister Peter G. Mackay. The agreement calls for closer cooperation between the two militaries, including bilateral military exchanges.”

Not having heard or read anything about this visit to Beijing by MacKay, I went back to the internet to search for possible news stories. The first item was an announcement on the “National Defence and the Canadian Forces” website. It reported that MacKay, the first Canadian Minister of Defence in the last 10 years to visit China, met his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, “to discuss their views on the challenges of regional and global security, as well as Canada-China defence relations.” According to the Canada News Centre website, MacKay announced: “This visit helped set the stage for an enhanced military-to-military relationship between the Canadian Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Our security ties are an important component of building understanding with China in a range of areas.”

The report goes on to say that Canada’s military will take part in the 2014 Asia-Pacific exercise (“the world’s largest international maritime exercise”) with China, which “will mark the first participation of China in the exercise, designed to prepare military forces to work together in missions ranging from providing humanitarian aid to full combat operations.” One can only ask in what possible scenario does Ottawa imagine getting involved in “full combat operations” with China? Certainly not as potential military allies? The news item concludes with: “Canada remains committed to deepen our defence relations with China and engage in dialogue on issues of regional and international security.” Since when has Canada become such a close ally of Communist China, and particularly under the leadership of Stephen Harper, who was previously so critical about Communist Chinese, its human rights violations and lack of democratic principles?

There was one article by Jessica Murphy, in the June 1 issue of the Toronto Sun, entitled “Peter MacKay plans tough chat with Chinese counterpart.” In an interview with QMI Agency, MacKay said: “I’ve met with a number of my counterparts here in the last few days. They are quite clarion in their calls for China to respect their jurisdiction, their sovereignty rights and, in fact, some of the resource implications are of great concern. So I do intend to speak openly, speak frankly and express Canada’s view.” According to Murphy “frank and open” discussions was diplomatic code for a tough chat. MacKay concluded with: “I believe there is much to be gained by having a more robust and honest, open relationship with China, and that includes confronting them on issues of concern.”

Following the meeting in Beijing, Mike Blanchfield of the Canadian Press posted his report, which was only carried on the CBC and CTV websites and Macleans. In an interview with the CP, MacKay reportedly said: “I did lay down markers with my defence counterpart here in China, made it very clear that this is an issue of real concern to Canada,” referring to curbing cyber-attacks originating from China. He also encouraged China “to become more engaged in a rules-based framework that protects critical infrastructure, that protects systems throughout the world and allows for the free flow of information.” In other words, he told China to play nice with the other children on the world’s playground. MacKay didn’t comment on whether he believes that the Chinese government is directly involved in computer-hacking, or just unable or unwilling to control activities by others. He also made no mention of any agreements that he signed while in Beijing. Global TV had a modified and very short, version of this CP news report on its website.

Not a word of follow-up in the Toronto Sun, and nothing at all about the trip to Beijing in either the National Post or the Toronto Star, at least not on their internet websites. The Globe and Mail did carry an article by Campbell Clark, entitled: “MacKay presses China to take regional disputes to UN” without mentioning the fact that the meeting took place in Beijing. Reporting that his Asian tour was an attempt to obtain a greater role in the Pacific region, MacKay was quoted as saying that he did not feel China was wary of Canada’s activity in this respect. “I don’t think that they view Canada with any degree of suspicion. It’s not, clearly, only militarily that we are ramping up our efforts. It’s happening diplomatically, it’s happening economically. It’s happening in ways which are of mutual benefit.”

Only one article, by Lee Berthiaume in the Vancouver Sun talked about MacKay and Wanquan announcing “several initiatives aimed at opening channels between their respective militaries.” The article goes on to quote MacKay as saying: “These types of face-to-face discussions really add value and build that sense of mutual understanding and trust that is critical in a very volatile world. The risk of miscalculation and misunderstanding can be grave.” MacKay was also quoted as saying that both the Conservative government and Canada’s military “don’t perceive China as a threat, militarily, to Canada.” China’s communist leadership must be congratulating itself on being able to convince the likes of MacKay and Harper of their “peaceful intentions” regardless of what their actual long-term goals may be. It looks like it is time to establish the “Neville Chamberlain Award” for gullibility in foreign relations, with the first recipients to be Harper and MacKay.

On his Facebook account, MacKay only had two items relating to his Asia visit. Both dated June 3rd, in the first he reported about leading the Canadian delegation to the International Institute for Strategic Studies Conference in Singapore, where he “represented Canadian interests in this strategically important region, and delivered a speech on the evolving threats in the Asia Pacific region.” The second “E route to China” showed him stopping at the Kranji War Memorial dedicated to members of the allied forces who died in the defense of Singapore and Malaya during WWII. Nothing about his meeting with the Chinese defense minister.

It required a look at Chinese news reports, in order to obtain information about the agreements signed by MacKay and his Chinese counterpart. According to the Xinhua news agency and People’s Daily Online, the agreements call for military cooperation between the two countries, with both sides working ”to push forward bilateral military relations.” The report said that “They agreed to establish a work meeting mechanism between the two defense ministries, in order to exchange views on topics of common interest and plans for defense exchanges. The two sides decided to sign an initiative on cooperation plans between the armed forces of the two countries, which will provide guidance for bilateral military exchanges and ensure that the exchanges are reciprocal, appropriate and sustainable.

”The statement also said that the two sides will continue to deepen pragmatic cooperation between the two armed forces.” MacKay was reported as saying that he hoped “for more exchange opportunities between the two armed forces.”

It is unbelievable that as residents of Canada, we have to rely on the biased reporting of Chinese news agencies in order to obtain information on Ottawa’s foreign agreements. So much for our vigilant media!

During the Beijing visit, MacKay also met with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, who said that Canada and China ”have no disputes on fundamental interests and their common interests far outweigh their differences.” Many Canadians would beg to differ with this statement. If asked to identify which countries Canada shares common interests with, Communist China would be near the bottom of the list. While naval officer Jeffrey Paul Delisle was convicted of passing secret intelligence to the Russians, MacKay and Harper seem to be inviting the Chinese military into our military’s inner sanctum. What else can one expect from ”bilateral military exchanges” and strengthening of “defence and military cooperation.”

It is difficult to say which is more depressing. The fact that our supposedly free media is becoming either selective or negligent in its reporting, particularly with regards to Communist China, or the fact that our Conservative government is becoming more and more cozy with Beijing’s communist regime. Examining recent events, the latter should be less surprising. After all it is Harper who has been pushing for greater Chinese investment in Canada, from the oil sands to mines. Similarly, immigration from Communist China has considerably increased since he became Prime Minister. And despite China being identified as responsible for computer-hacking Canadian computers, including those of federal government entities, Ottawa refuses to place blame where it clearly belongs.

In addition, this is the same Conservative government which has been dismissive of U.S. concerns about the existence of fake Chinese military parts, found in military cargo planes, American-made fighter jets, transport planes and even military weapons. In June 2011, Julian Fantino told CBC News ”we don’t have any particular concerns in this country” regarding counterfeit Chinese parts, which has been described as a “billion-dollar problem,” an attitude Canadian defence experts find incomprehensible.

Ottawa is just as dismissive about security concerns with regards to the growing participation in Canadian telecommunications projects by China’s Huawei Technologies, facilitating potential Chinese espionage, unlike the U.S. and Australia and even our own intelligence agency. Dalton McGuinty actually went so far as to give Huawei Technologies $6.5 million of taxpayers’ money to locate its offices and “research facility” in Markham.

Clearly something has gone drastically wrong in Ottawa with our so-called Conservative government. However, if anyone is under the misguided notion that only Canadian politicians are so naive, blind, or just plain stupid, they have not been following recent news. Ottawa appears to be in exalted company, with regards to its naive or willfully blind attitude to potential threats from China.

While the U.S. Pentagon is clearly aware of the dangers Chinese cyber-attacks have posed for America over recent years, particularly after dozens of Pentagon weapons programs and other defense technologies had been recently hacked by China, in 2012 it leased a Chinese commercial satellite (majority owned by the Chinese Government) to provide communication for American troops operating in Africa.

Who knows what other similar actions remain to be revealed. Clearly, self-destructive stupidity by Western politicians and strategically placed bureaucrats is highly contagious! However, one thing Canadians can be certain of, our media will not be in the forefront keeping us informed.

Comments are closed.