Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, in China to boost trade ties and mend fences amid a string of diplomatic spats with Beijing, said Wednesday he still plans to raise human rights concerns during his talks with Chinese officials.
Mr. Flaherty said it was his “duty to be frank” about Canada's concerns and that he would to raise the issue of Huseyin Celil, a Chinese-Canadian being held in a Chinese jail for alleged terrorism links.
“We raise issues that we believe are important to Canadians,” Mr. Flaherty said. “We believe in protecting the rights of Canadians around the world.”
With all due respect, why is Flaherty even speaking on this file? It is especially confusing, given who he meeting:
during meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Jin Renqing, and with the governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan.
Mr. Flaherty was also scheduled to meet with China's top insurance regulator, as well as banking and securities regulators and officials from its state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.
If you want to tackle human rights issues, then bankers and the insurance industry are clearly the place to start? Huh? What exactly can Flaherty accomplish, except to further alienate? I thought Emerson's visit was primarily an exercise to thaw relations, now you have Flaherty spouting off to officials, that have no practical influence.
If Canada wants to raise human rights issues, then McKay and Harper should take the lead, either directly or indirectly. Canada doesn't need a Finance Minister shooting his mouth off to state planners. This area isn't part of Flaherty's portfolio, and the fact he feels it necessary to publicly chastize the Chinese lends credence to the view that he isn't well schooled in diplomacy. I'm sure the bankers will heed Flaherty's stern words.