Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) as they prepare to inspect Chinese honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 31, 2016. Justin Trudeau is on a one week vist to China from August 30 to September 6 and will also attend the G20 Summit in Hangzhou. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty)



 Published: April 7th, 2017

There is going to come a point, soon, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government will discover that Canadians have had just about enough of being told that what they need is “more, more, more” to do with China, as John McCallum, our ambassador to Beijing, likes to put it.

We’ve been hearing a great deal of this sort of thing lately as the processions of lobbyists, mandarins and yesteryear Liberal grandees slowly circle around the altar of a free-trade agreement with Xi Jinping’s police state. The problem is, we’ve heard the same hosannas in several variations over the past 30 years or so. And the consequences always seem to leave us with less, less and less.

What’s changed is that China has reverted to excesses of despotism that replicate the repressive superstructure that was on its way out in the days before the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. Beijing’s swaggering hybrid of robber-baron capitalism and Leninist discipline is not so easily disguised by the tailored suits and refined manner of its diplomats.

RELATED: Why the Liberals’ ugly ties to Beijing will make the work of a smart new cabinet harder

Take China’s new ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, for instance. Lu arrived in February straight from his post as director general of the policy research bureau in the foreign affairs department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. He has made it plain, in a series of interviews, that he wants a Canada-China free-trade agreement, on China’s terms, and he intends to brook no backchat from Canadians about human rights or democracy.

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