Scholars call on Canada to draw from Taiwan's experience with China

2019/01/30 21:54:44 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau / CNA file photo

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau / CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) A group of 57 scholars from around the world issued an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday in which they said that in the wake of the detention of three Canadian citizens in China, Canada should draw from Taiwan's experience with Chinese government interference.

Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, are currently detained in China for what many analysts believe is revenge for the detention in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, a top Chinese telecom executive.

Another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was handed the death penalty Jan. 14 for alleged drug trafficking.

The 57 scholars, who specialize in Taiwan studies or who have observed cross-Taiwan Strait relations for decades, said China is playing hostage diplomacy with Canada.

"We thus urge you to remain strong and uphold the rule of law in the face of the PRC's intimidating tactics. We also call on our own governments to stand in solidarity with Canada at this time," they said in the letter.

Noting that Taiwan has had to deal with a very similar situation, the letter goes on to note that Taiwanese national Lee Ming-che (李明哲) disappeared during a visit to China in March 2017.

"Mr. Lee, a longtime and respected human rights worker and democracy advocate, has been in Chinese detention for almost two years now. He was held incommunicado for many months, eventually put on a show trial in September 2017 and sentenced to five years in prison for 'subverting state power,'" the letter reads.

"In spite of its momentous transition to democracy in the 1990s -- or perhaps because it represented a democratic alternative -- Taiwan has long been at the receiving end of pressures and bullying from the rulers in Beijing. Taiwan's experience in dealing with these may be helpful for Canada at this point," the letter reads.

China also uses economic pressure on Taiwan, including using Taiwanese businesspeople working in China to pressure the government, it says.

Canada and Taiwan are in the same boat and should cooperate and coordinate much more than they have done before, the scholars said.

"We thus recommend that you use this occasion as an opportunity to review and enhance Canada's relations with a free and democratic Taiwan, strengthen exchanges based on shared values and principles of human rights and democracy," the letter reads.

The signatories are from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Taiwan.

(By Chung Yu-chen)
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