Robin Sears has been visiting China for thirty-five years. He writes that, as Canada's relationship with Donald Trump's America becomes more and more prickly, Canadians should be working hard at establishing a meaningful relationship with that other world superpower:
Historically, China’s service reputation has been closer to that of the U.K. — that is, the customer is always wrong — than to the rest of Asia. Today, the animated digital maps, flawless English announcements, and helpful staff on the Beijing and Shanghai subway systems would make a TTC executive blush.China’s mobile payments infrastructure is growing faster than any in the world — consumers search, pay for and track delivery of everything from food to major appliance purchases in the local version of Twitter by the tens of millions daily. The service is reportedly impeccable.
My wife visited China forty years ago when most people were getting around on bicycles. But things have changed. Sears asserts that those who still see China from the perspective of the 1960's are fools:
Those journalists who see China through a 1960s Cold War lens on policing, law, and civil society have either never seen a real Stalinist police state up close, or are merely promoting an agenda. Those who dismiss and sneer at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “romantic” engagement with the world’s emerging superpower are similarly just fools.No, China is not a democracy. Yes, China’s approach to rights and to the sovereignty of the individual citizen are often deeply troubling, and certainly not ours. But the private, social, and civic space for the ordinary Chinese citizen is greater today than at any time in its history, and expanding. That is surely the more relevant test of progress than whether they have arrived at our level of expectations of rights and freedoms.Trudeau is surely right in recognizing that the Canada/China relationship is the quintessential challenge for our children’s economic prosperity.
Those on the Right have a Manichean view of the world. People are either Good or Evil. For Us or Against Us. That vision was a heresy in its own day. It is a heresy today. The world has never been that simplistic.
Which means that dealing with China is fraught with complications -- dangers and opportunities. What matters is whether or not we have -- in the words of the Serenity Prayer -- the wisdom to know the difference.
Image: Ryan Remiorz -- Canadian Press