May 11, 2021 – 9:30am Professor Paul Evans, Topic: Canada/China relations – ZOOM

 Professor Paul Evans UBC HSBC Chair in Asian Research

Paul Evans (PhD with distinction Dalhousie University 1982) has been a Professor at the University of British Columbia since 1999, teaching Asian and trans-Pacific international relations. His work was based at the Institute of Asian Research and the Liu Institute for Global Issues which are both located in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA). On January 1, 2021, Dr. Evans was appointed the HSBC Chair in Asian Research.
His academic appointments have been as follows:
• Assistant Professor, Acadia University, 1980-81
• Assistant, Associate and Professor, Department of Political Science, York University, 1981-97;
• Director, University of Toronto – York University Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies, 1991-96;
• Visiting Professor, Asia Center, Harvard University, 1997-99;
• Acting Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues, 2004-05;
• Director, Institute of Asian Research, 2008-11;
• Visiting Professor at the University of Hong Kong, 2011 and 2013;
• Visiting Professor and Head of the International Academic Advisory Panel to the School of Social Sciences,   Singapore Management University, 2013-16.

Between 2005 and 2008, he was seconded from UBC to serve as the Co-CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
A regionalist rather than country specialist, he has held visiting fellowships at the Australian National University (1988); National Chengchi University in Taiwan (1989); Chulalongkorn University (1989); the East-West Center (1995); the National Institute for Research Advancement in Tokyo (1999); Harvard University’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies (2019); and the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore (2020) and spoken at universities and think tanks across the region.
An advocate of cooperative and human security, he has been studying and promoting policy-related activity on track-two security processes and the construction of multilateral institutions since 1988. He was a co-founder of the Council for Security Cooperation in Asia Pacific (CSCAP), the Canadian Consortium on Human Security, and the Canada-Korea Forum. He has directed exchange and partnership projects with fifteen research institutes in Asia and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded by governments and foundations in Canada, Japan, the United States, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. Between 1990 and 2002 he organized two dozen meetings involving participants from North Korea. He is currently a Canadian representative on the ASEAN Regional Forum’s Experts and Eminent Persons Group.
A member of the Global Council of the Asia Society in New York, he also sits on the editorial boards of The Pacific Review, the Chinese Journal of International Politics, the China Quarterly for International Strategic Studies, and Mexico y la Cuenca del Pacifico.
His graduate and undergraduate teaching at UBC focuses on Global China and World Order. The author or editor of seven books, his first was a biography of John Fairbank, his most popular the two editions of a lexicon of Asia Pacific security terminology (with David Capie), and his most recent “Engaging China: Myth, Aspiration and Strategy in Canadian Policy from Trudeau to Harper,” published in 2014.
His recent writings and media commentaries have focused on Canada-China relations, Asian security dynamics, and the emergence of techno-nationalism as a defining force in regional affairs.
He is married to Catherine Evans.

Presentation.

Professor Paul Evans was introduced by Bill Hooker.

A lot has changed since Paul last presented to the Club, but it is clear that China remains as strong as ever. We’re dealing with a more repressive and assertive China under Xi Jinping. Though we’re seeing cold and possibly dangerous geopolitics play out, a very lively and warm commercial business continues. Despite all the tensions
between the two countries, Canada-China trade was up last year by 12%. Moreover, people-to-people contact between China and Canada is still high. Chinese student enrollment at the major Canadian universities remains stable, and while tourism has gone down this year due to Covid, there doesn’t seem to be a political reason for
the decline.

When talking about Canada-China relations, six issues are top of mind.
1. The Three Ms: The imprisonments of Meng Wanzhou, Michael Kovrig, and Michael Spavor are on the minds of many Canadians nd Chinese. The main difficulty standing in the way of solving this diplomatic issue is an emotional problem. Canadians feel anger towards the unjustified detainment of the Michaels. On the flip side, the Chinese feel the same way about the imprisonment of Meng Wanzhou. They are frustrated that Canada just followed the request of the United States in a process that is aimed at trying to restrict Chinese technological capabilities.
2. Hong Kong: The latest development in Hong Kong is playing through in a number of dramatic ways. Not only are we distressed by the protests in Hong Kong, but also in its connections in Canada. With the passing of the National Security Law
in Hong Kong last July, now most of the syllabi at UBC come with a disclaimer warning students and faculty that they had best be careful about how they are approaching subject matter that can be seen as sensitive, in the places where our students are resident.
3. Xinjiang and the Uyghurs: The fate of the Uyghurs and the growth of ethno nationalism In China are important to many Canadians. In February, Parliament made a unanimous declaration of genocide in regards to China’s persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
4. Taiwan: The situation with Taiwan is much more complicated than it was three years ago in terms of geopolitics. There are concerns about the increasing military around Taiwan, and some Canadians are calling for the government to recognize Taiwan as an independent country.
5. Interference and influence activities: Jonathan Manthorpe’s book,
“The Claws of the Panda,” has triggered a process making Canadians much more aware and concerned of Chinese influence and interference activities in Canada. How should we be understanding these activities, putting them in proportion and re-
sponding to these actions?
6. Huawei 5G decision: This crucial decision will position Canada not only on one particular Chinese company but on how far we’re going to try to disengage to decouple from Chinese high-tech players of multiple sorts. For Evans, this is the most critical
decision that the government faces, although he is skeptical that they will take a position before the next election.

We’re wrestling through a bunch of tough issues in a very complicated geopolitical setting. Of course, this list could also be extended to include a whole host of other issues, including the South China Sea and the Arctic.

Paul Evan’s prognosis is that China isn’t going away. China is a stronger, more visible international player. They are more present and influential in many international institutions. They are the first major economy emerging out of the pandemic, and they are by far the world’s largest trading Nation. Many are seeing the current Canada-China relationship as a violent storm that we need to weather before reverting to the kind of interactions that we had in the past. However, Evans cautions that this perspective misses a bigger picture. Instead, we need to look at our current situation as a sign of seasonal or climate change wherein many of the practices we employ
in working with China will need to be significantly adjusted for the indefinite future.

Evans then offers a prescription noting that his old ideas on engagement are not sustainable or achievable in this new context. While China can be an economic partner, we can no longer work on the assumption that China is growing into an economy or political system that is going to be compatible with many of our values. China is not moving to converge with North American politics any time soon.
In federal level discussions, two general approaches are emerging. In the context that we are in an era of long-term strategic competition with China, the thought is that Canada needs to work hand-in-hand with like-minded governments to find ways to confront and push back against China. Essentially, expanding military containment of
China in preparation for Cold War 2.0. While this is already happening to some degree, Canada would participate as a much more forceful partner with the United States in this approach.

The second approach is the strategic engagement of China, aka Canadian style. This takes a more complex and nuanced approach that considers China an adversary and potentially an enemy in some are as, but as a participant and a cooperator in other areas. Evans refers to this as the Three Basket Approach. The first basket is where Canada must push back, criticize, and possibly place sanctions against China in partnership with our allies in certain areas such as domestic interference issues, territorial actions by the People’s Republic of China, and human rights violations. The second basket is where we must, and can, cooperate with China to solve significant challenges such as climate change, global health, and some development issues.
The last basket includes the unknown gray zone areas. This includes areas where there may be some common ground between Canada and China that we need to explore together, such as peacekeeping matters, labour policies, and matters related to ageing.

We are facing a tougher and more emotional situation when it comes to Canada-China relations. Still, we need to keep a sense of balance about China and bring a perspective that draws on our tradition of engagement with China with a more realist and hardline framework than we have before.

Professor Paul Evans was thanked by Bud Wong.

Transcription of the Questions & Answers session coming soon


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