Ottawa Should Really Learn the Diplomatic Finesse

Who would have thought that the West would one day have to bow to a communist country such as China, all in the name of a powerful and money-colored phrase “global commercial agreements?” So, when a western nation’s leader criticizes China for a host of things that are wrong with that country, his opposition calls him a laughing stock, while China itself snubs him at the recent Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. In case you are not on par with the latest Canadian diplomatic faux pas at the top level, the leader in question is Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Since Harper came to power less than a year ago, his treatment of China was, at best, well, frosty! During his recent trip to China, he even freely offered his comments that were, for the better part, neither sought nor appreciated.

And, what did Chinese do? Well, they quietly ignored PM Harper’s comments while he was in China. But, once both countries entered the international stage at the APEC summit, China’s President Hu Jintao applied the very effective technique of prominently ignoring Canada’s PM for the entire world to see, awarding him only 15 minutes of his time on a Saturday. I have to say, it was truly pathetic to listen to PM Harper hail his 15 minutes (of infamy, shall I say,) that he spent with President Jintao as a “historical event,” while the Chinese media buried the story, oh, about six feet deep.

Now, I have to say kudos to Prime Minister Harper for harping on civil rights issues in China, which should be a concern to more world leaders. However, he shouldn’t have gone about it in such an undiplomatic and unrefined manner.

It is a fact of life that the West needs access to the biggest single market in the world. We need to keep pumping resources in China’s red hot economy because just the fumes from their engines are enough to keep our old hankers going, too.

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that Canadian CEOs are livid with Harper for sabotaging their commercial relations with China by throwing the proverbial human rights “wrench” right into the wheels of economic cooperation it took them years to get going.