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Michael Chan: The Problem That’s Been Around for 40 Years

Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, right, and his counterpart from China, Wang Yi, participate in a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS

This Chinese-language blog features Ontario Minister Michael Chan, whose views on China's human rights record are quoted here at length by an unidentified journalist.

The column has appeared on the popular web site 51.ca and Mr, Chan's own official WeChat page.

四十年来的问题

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The Problem That's Been Around for 40 Years

2016-06-06 陈国治

Michael Chan, June 6, 2016

近日中国外交部部长王毅访问加拿大,在举办媒体发布会的时候,与加拿大记者问答过程中谈到人权的问题,引起了各方评论,记者就此采访了陈国治,请他谈谈对此事的看法。

When China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Canada recently, in response to a question from a Canadian journalist, he touched on the issue of human rights, and his response led to commentary from all quarters. A journalist interviewed Michael Chan about this, inviting him to share his views on the matter.

陈国治说,西方和其它国家,向中国发问人权问题,由中国改革开放第一天到现在,大大话话,已经问了四十年。不是什么特别,新鲜或突然跑出来的议题。既然四十年都问同一个问题,那我们就看一看这四十年间中国人的人权究竟走了多少路,经历了那些沧海,踏上了那些桑田?

Michael Chan said that Western and other countries have been posing questions to China about human rights issues since the first day of reform and opening up [i.e. China's economic reforms starting in ~1978] until now—it's been about 40 years already. It's not some special, fresh, or suddenly new issue. So given that the same question has been asked for 40 years, why don't we take a look at just how far the human rights of Chinese have come, how much they've changed, and all that they've been through, in these 40 years?

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陈国治说应该从民生的角度去看人权问题,人权的进步与民生的进步相辅相成,是挂钩的。最好的例子,莫如多伦多星报上星期的一个报道:四川省有个悬崖村,小孩需爬藤梯攀岩上学,为减少风险,小孩每两周才能回家一次,因为爬崖极其危险,悬崖峭壁,稍有不慎,孩童就命丧悬崖。孩童的人权是求学,可能的代价是生命!所以人权涵义很广,但生存权和保障民生,是人权重要的一环。四十年前中国致力于解决人民的温饱,满足人们的基本生活,四十年间中国社会的发展由生存型向发展型转变,在经济、教育、医疗、留学、移民、旅游、生活品质四十年来发生了"天荒夜谈"的变化。

Michael Chan said that human rights should be viewed from the perspective of livelihood issues — the progress of human rights is complementary and linked together with the progress of people's welfare. The best example is a report in the Toronto Star last week: In Sichuan there was a village at the bottom of a cliff, and the children had to climb and clamber over a ladder made of vines, over the rocks, to go to school. To reduce the danger—climbing the sheer cliffs and precipitous rock faces is so dangerous that one slip and a child could die—the kids could only go home once a fortnight. The human rights of those children is the right to an education, but the price might be one of their lives! So the inner meaning of human rights is very broad, but the right to survival and a guaranteed livelihood are important components of human rights. Forty years ago, China was striving towards ensuring that the people would have enough food and warm clothes, to satisfy the basic needs of life. In 40 years, Chinese society has transformed from being about survival to being about development—and in the economy, education sector, healthcare, student exchange, migration, travel, and quality of life, these 40 years have brought about 1001 changes.

四十年前和四十年后

Forty Years Ago, and Forty Years Later

首先是交通工具,陈国治说他差不多四十年前到中国的时候,满大街跑的是人力车,上落十排以上,不知怎样走过马路。上个月再去中国,也是不敢在大城市过马路,不同的是,马路上车往来都是汽车!截至2015年底,中国私家车占有量已达1.24亿辆,其中汽车驾驶人超过2.8亿人。民生进歩了。

First on the issue of vehicles: Michael Chan said that he remembers when he was in China about 40 years ago, tricycles, bicycles, and pushcarts filled the streets, 10 of them abreast, and you never knew how you'd get across the road. Last month he again went to China, and though he again didn't dare to cross the street in big cities, the difference this time was that the vehicles on the road were cars! As of the end of 2015, there were already 124 million private automobiles in China, and a total of 280 million licensed drivers. The livelihood of the people has improved.

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国民经济,四十年前中国国民经济几乎到了崩溃的边缘,1978年轻重工业比例为43:56,轻工业产品严重匮乏,四十年后,根据官方2015年数据,中国的国民生产总值超过十万亿美元。中国是全球第二大经济体、第一大工业国、第一大农业国和第二大服务业国,同时也是世界经济增长速度最快的国家之一,在过去三十年来中国GDP年均增长率近10%。中国是也是世界最大贸易国。民生丰富了。

Then on the private economy: 40 years ago, the private economy in China was on the brink of collapse. In 1978 the ratio between light and heavy industry was 43:56, and light manufactured products were in drastically short supply. Now, 40 years later, according to official 2015 figures, China's Gross National Product has exceeded US$10 trillion. China is the second largest economy in the world, the largest industrialized country, the country with the largest agricultural sector, and the country with the second-largest service industry. At the same time, it's a country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Over the last 30 years, China's average GDP growth rate has been 10% per year. China does the most trade in the world. The welfare of the people has been enriched.

陈国治继续说,出境旅游,四十年前出国旅游,对于中国老百姓来说想都不敢想,一是没钱,二是政策不允许,四十年后,中国出境游从以前的"一生一次"到现在的"周末出国",2014年出境人数首次突破1亿人,海外旅游消费2014年1648亿美元,振兴当地的经济,美国旅游协会主席罗杰•道描述更形象,他称中国游客是"会走路的钱包"。据统计,中国过亿的出境游客为世界旅游业的增长贡献达到19.62%。民生精采了。

Michael Chan continued, on the ease of tourism for Chinese. Forty years ago, leaving China for tourism was something that average Chinese people didn't even dare think about. Firstly, they didn't have money; secondly, policies didn't allow it. Now, 40 years later, tourism has gone from being something one does "once in one's life" to "leaving the country for a weekend." The total instances of Chinese traveling abroad exceeded 100 million for the first time in 2014, and spending while overseas was $US164 billion, which has invigorated local economies. The chairman of the U.S. Travel Association Roger Dow gave an even more vivid description: he said that Chinese tourists are "walking wallets." Statistics say that the over 100 million Chinese tourists have contributed to the growth of the global tourism industry by 19.62%. People's lives have become more interesting.

留学移民,四十年前能把下一代送出国留学的家庭在中国的当时是凤毛麟角的,要不大家族,要不公派留学生,移民那个时候似乎还没有这个字眼,四十年后留学和移民已经"飞入寻常百姓家",过去的四十年间中国国门大开,留学、移民和海归,走出中国门和走回中国门都很方便和自由。目前海外华侨华人总数约为6000万人,目前在加拿大的中国留学生数量已达8万人。民生自由了。

On the matter of studying abroad and emigrating: 40 years ago, the families able to send the younger generation off to study abroad were "as rare as phoenix feathers and unicorn horns." [i.e. 'extremely rare.'] If it wasn't a big family, or you weren't sent as part of a state programme, at that point there wasn't even this phrase "emigrate." Now, 40 years later, studying abroad and emigrating have already become completely commonplace. Over these past 40 years, China's big doors have swung open—for students, migrants, and returnees to leave China and come back has all become free and convenient. There are around 60 million overseas Chinese, and the number of Chinese exchange students in Canada is over 80,000. People are living with freedom.

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陈国治说,仅仅举以上几例来看中国过去四十年的发展和变化,还有医疗、教育、国民的生活水准,中国飞跃式的发展、致力于提高民生水平,导致中国人权这个话题变得更宽阔和多层次的变化。王毅外长让记者去中国问问中国人,亦给陈国治带来了一个回忆:在2010年陈国治和前省长麦坚迪访问中国,和中国前外长杨洁篪会谈,杨外长亦建议他们和普通百姓谈谈人权。陈国治话,其实不用跑到中国去问中国人,加拿大有8万个中国留学生,记者们大可向这八万'大军'发问,毎人问个清楚,问他们对中国民生民权的感受,做一个调研统计。当然还可以问问来加拿大旅游的中国游客。

Michael Chan said that just a few of the abovementioned examples show the development and changes of the last 40 years. Then there's health care, education, the standard of living, and China's rapid development which has improved the people's livelihood, and led to human rights in China becoming broader, and changing in multivariate ways. Foreign Minister Wang Yi's suggestion that the journalist go to China and talk to the Chinese people made Michael Chan remember something: In 2010 when Michael Chan and the former premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty visited China together, and sat down and chatted with the former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Yang also suggested that they go out and talk about human rights with some regular Chinese folk. Michael Chan said, actually, you don't need to go to China to ask Chinese people; Canada has 80,000 Chinese exchange students: journalists can go and ask this 80,000-strong "army" — ask each of them what their feelings are about the livelihood and civil rights of the Chinese people, and do a survey. Of course, you can also ask Chinese tourists who are visiting Canada.

陈国治告诉记者,四川悬崖村民渴望一条安全道路,生存是他们面临的人权。每个国家,每个民族,人权的起点不同,发展的速度和过程也有别,秉承开放、善意和发展的眼光去看,未来可期。

Michael Chan continued: the students at the bottom of the cliff in Sichuan yearn for a safe path to school, and survival is the human right issue that they face. The starting point for human rights is different for every country and people; the speed and process of economic development is also different. Maintain a stance of openness, goodwill, and a mind on development, and the future will be bright.

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