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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the official welcome at the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, Sunday, September 4, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the official welcome at the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, Sunday, September 4, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Globe editorial

Globe editorial: More than ever, Canada must not sign an extradition treaty with China Add to ...

That was quick. On Tuesday, just hours after the Australian government killed its unratified extradition treaty with China, a Chinese government official was pleading with Canada not to follow the same route.

“Such a treaty will help the two countries in having an institutional guarantee in combatting transnational crimes,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said.

The quickness with which Beijing turned its attention from Australia to Canada speaks to two things. One, that China considers this country to be a prime destination for refuge-seeking Communist Party members who run afoul of the party, or who are suspected of corruption.

And two, that China realizes its stated desire for an extradition treaty with Canada is very much at risk of being unfulfilled.

As it should be. Such a treaty would be an explicit endorsement of China’s legal culture – something Canada must not give under the current circumstances.

Among its many questionable practices, China detains party members accused of corruption and tortures them, through lack of sleep, beatings and far worse, into signing confessions. Known as shuanggui, it is an extralegal process that takes presumed guilt as its starting point.

More than one million Chinese people have gone through this brutal system. Many go from shuanggui straight to prison, where they do time for crimes they confessed to under duress. Police are not allowed to investigate the abuses inflicted on detainees.

As well, China detains, for months at a time, rights lawyers, publishers and others who challenge the authority of the regime.

Canada simply cannot justify signing a deal that would formalize the return of Chinese citizens to a regime that uses torture to extract confessions, and which uses party-controlled courts and judges to silence critics.

Furthermore, China needs to understand that it can’t get the international respect it craves without ending the blatant human-rights abuses in its justice system. Getting a deal with Canada would be a huge coup for Beijing. But it would be an epic display of near-criminal irresponsibility for the Trudeau government to give shuanggui and the detention of human-rights activists the blessing of this country.

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