With Canada and China embroiled in a tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute, all eyes are on the rising superpower’s next move and what it means for Sino-Canadian relations. To help put the latest news in context, The Globe is highlighting books and analysis that help shape a broader understanding of the geopolitical tensions at play.
China’s past and potential future
When Beijing celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2019, many critics saw the lavish public celebrations as a charade of Chinese national unity and power. To better understand the pomp and pageantry, The Globe rounded up four books that closely examine the country’s history and what it might mean for its future position on the global stage.
Those books include:
- Invisible China by Scott Rozelle and Natalie Hell
- The Invention of China by Bill Hayton
- The Emperor’s New Road by Jonathan E. Hillman
- The Story of China by Michael Wood
- Read more: Understanding China: Four books that look at the country’s past, present and possible future
Reporting on China
Earlier this year, The Globe’s Asia correspondent, James Griffiths, reviewed Assignment China: An Oral History of American Journalists in the People’s Republic by journalist Mike Chinoy, which details the difficulty of news reporting in China. Mr. Griffiths writes: “Tracing the history of foreign journalists in China from 1949 to today, Mr. Chinoy’s book is not wholly focused on U.S. media. One of the first foreign reporters to work in the newly established People’s Republic was a Canadian, Frederick Nossal, who opened The Globe’s bureau in Beijing in 1959.”
China’s treatment of the Uyghurs
The Chinese government has been accused of detaining more than a million Muslims in re-education camps in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in the northwest of the world’s most populous country. Most are Uyghur, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group of 12 million people residing in Xinjiang. In 2021, Canada’s House of Commons voted to declare China’s treatment of its Uyghur population a genocide.
Canada’s approach to China relations
Canada’s response to Chinese political maneuvers has been the topic of countless op-eds and news analysis. Legal scholar Michael Byers took a closer look at the topic in his review of Claws of the Panda by Jonathan Manthorpe.
In his review, Mr. Byers writes: “The Chinese Communist Party has spent decades quietly infiltrating Canada in order to acquire influence over economic and political decision-making. It succeeded in conveying an image of China as a trustworthy partner rather than a demanding superpower, an image that became all the more attractive after Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States. But now, after the arbitrary detentions of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig – and the resentencing of Robert Schellenberg with the death penalty – Canada is in a position to reassess the risks of collaboration with China.”
- Read more: Why Canada should take a stronger approach to China, according to Jonathan Manthorpe’s new book Claws of the Panda
China’s geopolitical power
In 2022, Toronto Star journalist Joanna Chiu won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for her book, China Unbound: A New World Disorder. The book was lauded for its detailed explanation of China’s efforts to extend its power in Canada and around the globe.
“From meeting displaced Uyghurs in Istanbul and China-curious entrepreneurs in Sicily, to witnessing street protests in Hong Kong and Xi Jinping’s wooing of Vladimir Putin in Beijing, Chiu does on-the-ground reporting and adds brisk, smart analysis of China’s creeping influence in Canada and around the world,” the prize’s judges said of Chiu’s work.
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