Canada is “probably” the western country that has taken the longest time to take the measure of the threat posed by China, allowing the regime of President Xi Jinping to extend its networks of influence in the country in an alarming way, denounces the activist Benedict Rogers.
“There are signs that people are starting to wake up […] But it seems that the government [canadien] itself does not move very quickly, ”said Thursday at The Press the English activist, passing through Montreal to promote a new book, The China Nexuswhich documents decades-long abuses by the Chinese Communist Party, both within and outside its borders.
The detention in China of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in response to that of a Huawei executive, Meng Whanzou, has transformed the relationship between the two countries to some extent, but “not as much as one might expect”. , notes Mr. Rogers, who is linked to the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom.
A certain “naivety” regarding the nature of the Chinese regime seems to persist in Ottawa in the Liberal ranks, judges the author, who criticizes the party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for favoring Canadian economic interests in its exchanges with Beijing rather than the defense of human rights.
Recent allegations by the Global network that Beijing financed a dozen candidates in the 2019 federal election are likely to promote a real awareness of the risks associated with too much complacency, notes Mr. Rogers.
He said he was encouraged in this regard by the attitude displayed by the Canadian Prime Minister during a spat at the G20 with the Chinese president.
“I’m glad Justin Trudeau didn’t just let himself be lectured and insisted that Canada believes in freedom of the press, in the need for open debate. The incident also highlighted the aggressive attitude of Beijing, which will help people to see clearly what is happening,” notes Mr. Rogers, who over the years has participated in the establishment of several human rights organizations focused on China’s actions, including Hong Kong Watch.
His very critical perception of Beijing found little echo, in London and elsewhere, a few years ago, but it has become much more widespread today, underlines the British national, who is banned from living in the former colony.
The introduction of a national security law reduced freedom of expression to a trickle there, recalls Mr. Rogers, who documents this development with the testimonies of several activists forced to flee to escape the authorities.
Plea for a common front
His book also explores the extent and causes of the repression against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the persecution of Falun Gong members and Christians, and Beijing’s influence games in Burma, where the ruling military junta is pursuing a fierce campaign of repression with his help.
Xi Jinping, notes the activist, had announced in perfectly clear terms in 2013 after taking office as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party that the regime should strive to build a form of socialism “superior” to capitalism and eventually allow China to occupy a “dominant position” in the world.
“Either people weren’t listening, or they didn’t take it seriously,” notes Mr. Rogers, who today pleads for democratic countries to stand together against Beijing.
Imposing sanctions against those responsible for abuses, particularly in Xinjiang, is notably much more likely to prove effective with such an approach, he says.
“When countries act unilaterally, China is able to isolate them, play them off against each other and create divisions,” notes the activist.
Xi Jinping has consolidated his power, but manifests a certain “insecurity” which leads him to constantly tighten social controls, at the risk in particular of slowing down economic development and fostering popular discontent, says Mr. Rogers, who is not no illusions about the possibility of seeing the Chinese Communist Party lose its grip on power in the short or medium term.
“Despite everything, we know that dictators never last forever,” he says.