Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Women in Science | Main | Harper Adds Heat, Not Light, to Marriage Debate »

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Do the right thing

In its reporting on the visit MP Jason Kenney made to pay his respects to Zhao Ziyang, the Canadian media doesn't get it quite right. This CP story says, for example:

Upstaging the prime minister's visit to China, Conservative MP Jason Kenney went to the home of Zhao Ziyang, the deposed Communist party chief, to pay respects Friday to a reformist purged for sympathizing with pro-democracy protesters before they were crushed by the military in 1989.

As one China-watcher said to me on the phone yesterday from Washington, D.C., (we were actually discussing an unrelated issue) Kenney didn't just upstage Martin, he upstaged every foreign politician in the world with that visit and it took a helluva lot of courage. Ya know, I kinda enjoyed hearing a Canadian being praised for having some backbone.

This guy called Martin's response--where he accused Kenney of intruding on the family's privacy--shameful. Okay, so that wasn't so great to hear because, you know, Martin's the guy officially representing you and me overseas.

Here's the quote from the Globe and Mail, "PM chides Kenney over visit to Zhao family":

"If somebody's father dies and they say they don't want to turn it into a media event and they want you to respect your grief," he said, "I think probably the greatest tribute you can give to somebody for whom you have admiration is that you respect that family's grief. Jason Kenney didn't do that.”

As Cheadle notes in his CP report, Kenney "was thanked effusively, and departed with his shaken but proud interpreter."

Now, back over to Martin. "You do not defend human rights by simply making statements," Martin said. "You defend human rights by being persistent and consistent." When I pointed out to this guy in D.C. there had been a follow-up story in which it was reported that Martin later launched into a tirade in Bejiing on same-sex marriage in Canada, he burst into a peal of spontaneous laughter, coughed a bit, and then noted the irony of standing in the middle of tyranny and babbling about rights back home. He pointed out that Martin only raised the issue of human rights with the Chinese at the end of his visit, and then only timidly.

Look at the quotes of the interpreter, who overcame the fear of the very real prospect of losing his job, to help Kenney. The interpreter says, "The respect for the leader really convinced myself to go further." And what's happened? Here's an AP story on the wire today;  Security Stepped Up at Home of Zhao Ziyang. A quote:

"[Zhao]'s a hero of the Chinese people. We will always miss him," said teacher Ng Ping-lam, 56.

And here's a little backgrounder from a few days ago in Epoch Times:

According to the report, after Zhao’s death on the morning of Jan. 17, a few Chinese known for independent thought, intellectuals, religious members and public figures of the thinkers’ circle, closely monitored and were not allowed to leave their residences without notification or were closely followed when they left. Many people’s telephone lines were cut.

Posted by Kevin Steel on January 22, 2005 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Do the right thing:

» Politicizing the Dead from Plum Blossoms
The varying degrees by with the CCP, HK "Pro-Democrats", and a certain Conservative MP have responded politically to the death of Zhao Ziyang, and whether such moves have helped or hurt the dead and the living. [Read More]

Tracked on 2005-01-22 11:28:44 PM


Thanks Kevin. Very interesting post.

Posted by: Greg Staples | 2005-01-22 4:23:05 PM

From Jason Kenney's press release, issued this afternoon:

“Paul Martin is just making things up to divert attention from his soft-pedaling of human rights. The Zhao family has been receiving visitors all week – at least those who haven’t been turned away by Chinese secret police blocking their home,” said Kenney.

“I was only able to get through the police barricade to express my condolences because the Zhao family sent a representative to ask that I be admitted. I was asked to write a condolence message, and was thanked profusely by the family’s representative, who gave me a picture of Mr. Zhao as a sign of gratitude.”

Martin expressed no such concern for the Zhao family’s privacy on Thursday night when asked if he would consider a condolence visit, saying “I’ll talk to those who control my life, but I can just tell you that it’s not on the schedule at the present time.”

Kenney revealed that the real reason for Martin’s angry response to his visit was expressed earlier by Canadian Ambassador Joseph Caron, who tried to stop Kenney from paying his respects on Friday.

“Shortly before leaving for the Zhao residence, Ambassador Caron implored me not to do so, saying that my visit would upset the Chinese communist leadership. He made no allusion whatsoever to the Zhao family’s concerns or privacy as a reason for not going,” Kenney said.

“It is patently clear that Paul Martin concocted this nonsense about the family’s privacy because he’s ashamed to admit how beholden he is to the brutal Communist leadership in Beijing. As a Canadian, I’m ashamed that our government would join the Chinese authorities in trying to stop me from making a simple expression of grief and solidarity for democratic reform.”

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-22 4:27:08 PM

Hi Norman,

Thanks for providing this. Do you know of there is a website containing this press release? If not, could you email it to me.


Posted by: Greg Staples | 2005-01-22 4:40:03 PM

Norm, you're biting the hand that's kept you warm and fed over the years. You wouldn't lose your government pension? NAH..... not a chance.

Posted by: circe | 2005-01-22 9:50:44 PM

Foreign Affairs has issued a statement of condolence. Interesting timing, to say the least.


Posted by: Kelvin | 2005-01-22 11:30:56 PM


If you'll let me know who you are, I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I start to receive my pension.

As to having been kept warm and fed over the years, there've been several hands.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-23 4:58:49 AM

Norm, see circe run,see circe hide,see circe blush. I don't usually but I have a dose of "hemlock" waiting.

Posted by: circe | 2005-01-23 3:18:26 PM

don't sweat it.

Posted by: Norman Spector | 2005-01-23 3:57:29 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.