Human rights: Couillard does not intend to lecture the Chinese

News 21 January, 2018
  • Photo archive Pascal Huot
    The prime minister Philippe Couillard is in China as part of a larger economic mission.

    Patrick Bellerose

    Sunday, 21 January 2018 08:09

    Sunday, 21 January 2018 08:11

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    BEIJING | The prime minister Philippe Couillard does not address the issue of human rights during his meetings with chinese leaders as part of its economic mission.

    • READ ALSO: Couillard began his second journey in China

    “This is certainly not the Quebec that will dictate – or other parts of the world – to China, how they will govern themselves internally”, he stressed at the end of his first day at the head of an economic delegation of around 140 companies and organizations that will tour China until the 27th of January.

    China is frequently criticized for its limitations to the freedom of information, expression and association. The european Union stressed in a recent “deterioration of the situation” in 2017.

    Despite this, as during his first visit in 2014, the prime minister Couillard refuses to publicly discuss the issue of rights and freedoms, out of fear of harm to the success of the economic mission. “I’m not here for the purpose of lessons with China on these issues,” he says. I am here in order to help our delegation to be successful, and therefore the province of Québec to succeed.”


    Its federal counterpart, Justin Trudeau, had yet addressed the subject of human rights with its two main chinese leaders during his visit last December.

    Moreover, prime minister Trudeau addresses the issue each time it has the occasion, stressed the ambassador of Canada to China, John McCallum, present at the launching of the mission. “We want to be very clear with the Chinese about our values. When you are a good friend to someone, we can speak truthfully,” he says, indicating that this role belongs especially to the federal government.

    For Philippe Couillard, rather, the exchanges between Quebec and China, which will influence the asian giant on the path of rights and freedoms. “The more contacts, the more there are interactions between the peoples, the more we made progress,” he says.

    Free trade

    In his welcome speech to the participants of the mission, Philippe Couillard stressed that the global economic environment is currently facing fundamental changes.

    Today, China is the champion of free trade, while the United States Donald Trump to adopt a posture of protectionism.

    China is also “seriously” in the fight against climate change, says the prime minister Couillard. “This is a reversal of the geopolitical amazing, what’s happening now,” he says.