I KNOW FROM experience the most efficient way to start a fist-fight in some circles is to use, without irony, the word evil. As in the phrase Axis of Evil. On this principle, George W. Bush was mocked for years by lefties who noted condescendingly (though correctly) that the President’s eyes were just a bit too close together for the nation’s good. One afternoon in the mid 90s, the man who would memorably link Iran, Iraq and North Korea — Bush Jr’s speechwriter, David Frum — passed in front of my car while I was at a red light. I confess repressing an urge to step on the gas. Some years on, however, I’ve a greater respect for Mr. Frum, and in part it’s due to the fact that I think there really is such a thing as evil, perhaps even in axis form.
How does a regime qualify as evil? First, it must through its actions promote widespread human misery. An evil regime will disregard human wellbeing at home, and will furthermore cause misery abroad, violating international laws and strengthening foreign dictatorships and genocidaires and paramilitary outfits. An evil regime will engage in colonialism, torture of dissidents, censorship, ethnic cleansing, repression, and as a matter of course the stifling of human creativity and freedom. Overall, an evil government will promote and reinforce conditions which are detrimental to the development of the human being. Obsessed with self-preservation, it will pour its resources into a secret police force, re-engineering camps, prisons and torture chambers for political dissidents, and so on. And the evil will poison the animal and plant worlds also, killing and stunting life wherever and in whatever form it exists. Ladies and gentlemen, read that paragraph again, and know that every word of it applies without need of qualification to China.
It is against this background that I read today the farcical words of a CBC report:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will raise the crisis in Syria on his trip to China, a top Canadian government official says, a day after China joined Russia in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution calling on Syria’s president Bashar Assad to step down.
I have already written about the boilerplate cynicism of ‘raising the issue’ with the Evil Empire. We know why Mr. Harper is visiting China, in the company of business leaders and China Institute hacks — and various other Canadian diplomats and politicians, past and present, many of them on the Communist Party of China’s payroll — and it is not to advance human rights in China or the wellbeing of Syrians. The only purpose of the trip is to advance business deals, foremost the Synopec/Enbridge pipeline. For years the Chinese Communist party has been scheming, behind closed doors but also in the open air, to take control of North American resources. With the current government’s active help, they’ve had a good degree of success. Of course, conniving is what colonial nations do best, and Canada would have nothing for the taking if it hadn’t a history of theft itself. The moveon-dot-org crowd is famous for pointing out that the West has led the world at the business of arming compliant dictators against ‘their’ people, in order to further the transfer of resources from the Third World to the First. No one can credibly deny the guilt.
My grievance with this assessment is that it often and observably descends into the muck of moral equivalence. ‘Why oppose Saddam Hussein or the Taliban, when Bush is just as bad? Why talk about Iran or North Korea or China, when these countries are simply trying to advance their national interests and sovereignty, like America?’ What rotten arguments, and how commonplace. The answer — I don’t know how anyone could miss it — is: principle dictates that one condemn like things in like manner. The moral equivalence is between the US in Indochina and the Soviet Union in Chechnya, and not the actions of these two in Afghanistan. As for China, any Western equivalent of Beijing’s behaviour in Tibet and Sudan and Zimbabwe and China itself would have to be drawn from the very worst abuses of the colonial era’s apex. So, yes, let’s condemn Western imperialism, but notice also what’s happening in other parts of the world right now.
Mr. Harper, like his Western counterparts, speaks of China in euphemism. To say that this country “engages in human rights abuses” is equivalent to saying that President Assad is being not at all very nice. The inner circle of the Communist Party of China is killing a lot of people, and enslaving more. These folks care not a touch for international law or human rights or the principles of free trade, and they will never allow the Chinese people to be more than their politically retarded and economically exploitable children. China’s autocrats are committed to genocide in Tibet, and they mean to control the people and wealth of oil-rich African nations for their own exclusive benefit. They probably lose no sleep over their policy of arming cooperative dictatorships in politically opaque countries (like Equatorial Guinea) and buying politicians in supposedly transparent countries (like Canada). The effort has paid off handsomely, so much so that the Chinese Communist mafia CV includes not only genocide, massive environmental destruction, and a state-sponsored murder rate greater than that of the rest of the world combined, but also 3.18 trillion dollars of US currency reserves.
The CPC bosses depend upon their cheap and compliant labour pool and their oil revenues to keep the dirty boat afloat. North American politicians are happy to oblige. When the current Conservative government first came to power in 2006, there were signs that Canada would not adopt the studied properties of a doormat. Between then and now the necessary minds were changed. They became a little more pliant, a little more rubber-like. And now the door is wide open to Beijing, and it’s Canada’s shame.