Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada Luo Zhaohui in his office Friday October 31, 2014 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

China is pressuring a committee of Parliament to rescind its invitation to the leader of Hong Kong's democracy movement to appear before it and give testimony, The Canadian Press has learned.

Martin Lee was invited to give MPs on the House of Commons foreign affairs committee a briefing Tuesday on the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

The Chinese ambassador to Canada, however, has issued a letter to the committee telling it to butt out of China's domestic affairs, issuing a thinly veiled warning to not rock the boat on Sino-Canada relations.

Story continues below advertisement

Lee, the veteran pro-democracy activist, was one of several people arrested in December after more than two months of demonstrations against restrictions that Beijing government is imposing on Hong Kong's first election in 2017.

The protests paralyzed Hong Kong and gave rise to a new opposition movement that is seen by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a threat to his country's stability.

The Chinese government regularly sends toughly worded messages to democratic countries that entertain political figures that it does not approve of, such as the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

A letter from Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaojui said his government "learned" about plans to Lee to testify about political reform in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

"We hereby express our deep concern and strong opposition," the envoy's letter says.

"Hong Kong's political development falls entirely within China's domestic affairs. The Chinese side resolutely opposes any foreign governments, institutions and individuals to interfere in Hong Kong affairs," he adds.

"In consideration of the sensitive and complicated situation in Hong Kong, we hope that the Canadian side will not hold such a hearing, not intervene in Hong Kong's internal affairs in any form, so as not to send wrong signals to the outside world and cause any disturbance to China-Canada relations."

Story continues below advertisement

Luo refused to comment Monday when asked about his letter.

The NDP's foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar, said this is the first time he can remember a foreign government trying to dictate who can testify before the Commons foreign affairs committee. Dewar has been a member since 2007.

Dewar said Lee contacted the committee and offered to testify and its members unanimously agreed to hear him.

But Dewar said China should not see that as provocative or unfriendly.

"This shouldn't be seen as interference. We see the relationship with China as being an important one. We have a very special relationship with China," said Dewar.

"As a friend, we think it's important we hear from people who are concerned about what's happening in Hong Kong," he added.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's in no way to embarrass or to undermine the relationship."

Relations between China and Canada have been stormy since the Harper government took power in 2006.

Initially, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and cabinet ministers were outspoken about China's human rights record.

However, the Canada-China business lobby essentially revolted and managed to persuade the government to take a more nuanced view.

Harper eventually visited China in 2009, where he was publicly chided for taking too long to visit by China's then premier, and has since returned in an effort to boost trade. In all, he has visited the country three times, most recently last fall.

Harper has made increasing trade links with Asia a major economic priority, in part because of his inability to persuade the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would allow oilsands crude to be pumped to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies