Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Human Rights, Cyber Security to Be Part of Canada-China Free Trade Consultations

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Human Rights, Cyber Security to Be Part of Canada-China Free Trade Consultations

Article excerpt

Rights, cyber to be part of China trade study

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OTTAWA - The federal government wants Canadians to air their concerns about China's human rights record as part of broad consultations on a possible free trade deal.

Business leaders are also being asked to weigh in on a major cybersecurity issue: how to minimize the possibility of the Communist government prying into their commercial dealings in China.

The Liberal government served notice in recent days that it wants to hear from a broad range of Canadians on the proposed free trade deal.

Exploratory talks towards a deal were announced during last fall's meeting in Ottawa between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and China's visiting premier Li Keqiang.

Canada's economic ambitions for deepening trade with China have always clashed with concerns over the intolerance of dissent and crackdowns on freedom in the People's Republic.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, called on the government to commission an independent assessment of the impact that any proposed trade deal would have on human rights.

"It's a story the Chinese government frequently seeks to mask by pointing to the economic growth that the country has seen in recent decades and the huge numbers of people who have been lifted into the middle class," he said.

"And somehow that explains away everything and anything about human rights ills in China."

The government notice says "Canadians may have concerns about China, including issues relating to the environment, labour, gender equality, rule of law and human rights." It says Canada needs to raise those issues with China in order to have a "healthy relationship."

"A free trade agreement with China would not deter Canada from urging and working with China to meet its international obligations in these areas," it says.

Neve said he expects many non-governmental organizations such as his to answer the government's call for input, issued this last week.

Canada's leading business group for fostering relations with China says it too has concerns about moving forward with a full-fledged trade deal. …

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