Monday, 26 September 2016

Trying to End "Harassment Tourism"

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Now we know why Kevin Garratt was released last week from Chinese after being detained for two years.

In a bid to reset relations between China and Canada, it seems Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is negotiating an extradition treaty so that China can request certain people it deems should be tried for crimes they may or may not have committed.

Immigration lawyers and opposition politicians are crying foul, wondering why Trudeau is willing to return people who may or may not be fugitives to a country that is known for torture and executions. Is this "Canadian" of him?

However Trudeau seems to think he has things covered.

"Extradition is certainly one of the things the Chinese have indicated they want to talk about," he said. "But any discussions around extradition, for example, will be very much in line with Canadian principles and Canadian values and Canadian expectations that are very high."

What exactly does that mean?

Lai Changxing returned to China in 2011
For many years, the Chinese government was frustrated by Canada's oblique responses to extradition requests of people, one of the most famous examples was Lai Changxing, a former businessman in Xiamen who was implicated in corruption scandals that involved smuggling.

He fled to Vancouver where he lived for many years until he was sent back to China in 2011 with promises he would not be executed by imprisoned for life.

In 2000, three secret police investigators applied for visas to come to Canada as workers for China National Pulp & Paper Corporation, saying they wanted to discuss "Chinese users' requirements for Canadian pulp and paper".

But instead they really came to Vancouver to try to pressure Lai to come back to China to face charges of smuggling and bribery, bringing his brother along.

Lai's lawyer complained about this through diplomatic channels and later on it has been revealed that many other alleged fugitives have been harassed by Chinese secret agents who come to Canada on tourist visas.

How far will Trudeau go to make China happy in extraditions?
Talk about abusing the system, and also butting into the internal affairs of another country without going through proper legal channels.

This is ongoing so-called "harassment tourism" is what promoted Trudeau to have talks between the two sides "which allow Canadian officials and Chinese officials to discuss specific cases, to discuss the principles and concerns that both sides have," he says.

While it's understandable Trudeau would like Chinese agents to stop applying for tourist visas to harass people on Canadian soil, will he be able to get the upper hand in what the extradition treaty will be like?

It's kind of like dealing with the devil that has his cards hidden behind his back.

On one level it's good that China and Canada are actively engaged in talks, but on another, does Trudeau know who he's dealing with?

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