We rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese premier. We put on a 4 course state dinner. But I knew when Prime Minister Trudeau uttered these words "Mutual Suspect", those were his Freudian slips.
And suspicious we are! Canadians have learned recently that amidst all the enthusiasm the Trudeau government boasted about renewed relationship with China, China has pushed for an extradition treaty with Canada.
There are very good reasons why countries such as Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia don't have extradition treaties with China. All these countries take great pride in its judicial independence and the rule of law. Because they realize China could potentially use the extradition treaty to punish its political dissidents.
As China flexes its muscles and embarks on its territorial ambitions, it has quietly tried its hand at influencing the Chinese diaspora abroad. From the much disgraced Confucius Institute to pressuring a Vancouver based Chinese newspaper to dismiss their writer because he consistently produces what the Chinese government considers "Anti-China" content, I am starting to feel the anxiety of Beijing looming over my shoulder. And I don't like it!!!
As a Chinese Canadian, I take great pride in China's rising, lifting millions of people out of poverty and creating a vibrant middle class now consists of almost 200 million people. But at the same time, I remain apprehensive and suspicious because I understand some of those economic gains were made on the backs of those who are struggling with their daily lives.
As second generation Chinese Canadians, we have a moral dilemma here. Do we continue to toll the line for the Chinese communist party on national unity like most of our parents and some "community leaders", or we accept our Taiwanese friends' narrative on self-governance?
Do we turn a blind eye on the horrible conditions Tibetans and Uyghur Muslims are living under, or we take a more compassionate approach to actually help them address some of their grievances?
Do we elect someone who gladly takes campaign contributions from the Chinese Canadian business community but then stays very quiet when our Chinese Canadian businessmen get in trouble in China, and even worse, blatantly refuses to admit that China has a human rights problem?
As Second generation Chinese Canadians, we have a conscious choice to make. We must decide if we want to fully sign on to Canadian values: freedom, liberty and commitment to social justice. Because ultimately, we will be the bridge that connects the Chinese community and the rest of Canada. We should have a strong voice on how we'd like to shape our Canadian values.
As Dr Martin Luther King once said, the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict. And today, the Chinese diaspora is at a cross road. We must have the moral courage to resist some of the economic incentives China is dangling right in front of us, no matter how tantalizing they are.
Furthermore, we must "take up arms" to guard the liberal democracy we so enjoy right here in Canada, because we living in the diaspora are the external change agents for what will happen in China someday.
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