The Evolution of Canada’s Policy Towards Human Rights in China Since 1970

  • Charles-Louis LabrecqueEmail author


Canada’s relations with China represent one of its most vital bilateral relations and a major priority for the Canadian government. Economically, China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, still far behind the United States but growing in importance for the Canadian economy every year. During the economic crisis of 2008–2009, natural resource exports to China were what “kept the Canadian economy from a sharper downturn” (Woo 2010).


Prime Minister Foreign Policy Canadian Government Official Development Assistance Chinese Counterpart 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adams, B. 2006. Canada should stand firm in holding China to account on human rights. The Globe and Mail, November 17.Google Scholar
  2. Alberts, S. 2001. Chretien uses trip to tone his image on human rights. National Post, February 19.Google Scholar
  3. Alberts, S. 2001a. Chretien uses trip to tone his image on human rights. National Post, 19 Fevrier.Google Scholar
  4. Alberts, S. 2001b. PM’s pledge on human rights sounds hollow. National Post, February 17. Google Scholar
  5. Amnesty International. 2010. China-Annual report. Online at (consulted May 2014).
  6. Apodaca, C. 2006. Understanding U.S. human rights policy: A paradoxical legacy. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. 2006. National Opinion Poll 2006. Online at (consulted January 2014).
  8. Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. 2012. National Opinion Poll 2012. Online at (consulted January 2014).
  9. Balsillie, J. 2008. Canada-China relations are in need of an urgent overhaul, The Globe and Mail, October 27.Google Scholar
  10. Barry, D. 2010. Canada and the Middle East today: Electoral politics and foreign policy. Arabic Studies Quarterly 32(4): 191–217.Google Scholar
  11. Bernstein, R. 2010. Beijing’s bluster, America’s quiet: The disturbing case of Xue Feng. The New York Review of Books, October 6. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  12. Bloomfield, Alan, and Kim Richard Nossal. 2013. A Conservative Foreign Policy? Canada and Australia Compared. In Conservatism in Canada, ed. D.M. Rayside, and J. H. Farney, 139–164. Toronto: Toronto University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Brook, T. 1992. China’s long march toward democracy. The Globe and Mail, February 7.Google Scholar
  14. Burton, C. 2011. The Canadian policy context of Canada’s China policy since 1970. In Canadian foreign policy in the 21st century: The China challenge, ed. H. Cao, and V. Poy. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Burton, C. 2015. The dynamic of relations between Canada and China. In Readings in Canadian foreign policy, ed. D. Bratt, and C. Kukucha. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Canada. 1970. Foreign policy for Canadians. Ottawa: External Affairs.Google Scholar
  17. Canada. 1983. Les relations Canada-Chinoises. Ottawa: External Affairs.Google Scholar
  18. Canada. 1985. Orientations pour les relations extérieures du Canada. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada.Google Scholar
  19. Canada. 1986. Les relations extérieures du Canada: Réponse du Gouvernement du Canada au rapport du Comité mixte spécial du Sénat et de la Chambre des communes. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada.Google Scholar
  20. Canada. 1987. A Canadian strategy for China. Comments no 63. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada.Google Scholar
  21. Canada. 1992. Des députés canadiens sont expulsés de Chine. Comments no 5. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada.Google Scholar
  22. Canada. 1995. Canada in the World. Ottawa: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  23. Canada. 2005. Énoncé de politique internationale du Canada. Ottawa: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  24. Canada. 2009. Canada-China joint statement. Online at (consulted April 7, 2015).
  25. Canadian Press. 2008. Canada can raise human rights issues and still do business with China, January 8.Google Scholar
  26. Canadian Press. 2010. Harper helps Hu keep critics away. Toronto Star. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  27. Caragata, Warren. 1994. A change of heart: under the Liberals, foreign policy will stress economics over human rights. Maclean's 21(12):16–17.Google Scholar
  28. Carney, P. 1986. Canada and China, Speech given to the Canada-China Trade Council. Vancouver, BC.Google Scholar
  29. CBC News. 2001. B.C. human rights protestors arrested in China. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  30. CBC News. 2005. Chinese President Hu Jintao in Ottawa for first state visit to Canada. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  31. Cernetig, M., and E. Greenspon. 1998. Chretien to tone down rights message in China abuse issue will be raised in Beijing but less aggressively than in Malaysia. The Globe and Mail, November 19.Google Scholar
  32. Chrétien, J. 1998. Canada’s China policy: Business, reform and frank discussion. Speech given to the Canada-China Business Council, Beijing China. Canadian Speeches 12(9): 45–47.Google Scholar
  33. Cohen, R. 1987. The People’s Republic of China: The human rights exception. Human Rights Quarterly 9(4): 447–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Collin, P.H. 2004. Dictionary of politics and government. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  35. Conservative Party of Canada. 2006. Stand up for Canada: Conservative Party of Canada Federal Election Plateform. Online at (consulted November 2013).
  36. CTV News. 2006. Cda. won’t appease China on human rights: Harper. November 15. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  37. Derian, P.M. 1980. Quiet diplomacy is not silent diplomacy. Human Rights 9(2): 16–20.Google Scholar
  38. DFATD. 2015. Foreign policy: Human rights. Online at (consulted April 7, 2015).
  39. Dobell, P.C. 1985. Canada in World affairs XVII. Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  40. Donnelly, J., and D. Liang-Fenton. 2004. Introduction. In Implementing US human rights policy, ed. D. Liang-Fenton, 3–25. Washington: United States Institute of Peace Press.Google Scholar
  41. Droits et Démocratie. 2001. The bilateral human rights dialogue with China: Undermining the international human rights regime. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  42. Evans, P. 1984. Political dimensions of trade with China. Canada-China Journal 4(1): 4.Google Scholar
  43. Evans, P. 2006. Canada and global China: Engagement recalibrated. In Canada among Nations 2005, ed. A.F. Cooper, and D. Rowlands, 150–168. Montréal: McGill-Queens University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Evans, P. 2008. Responding to global China: Getting the balance right. Canadian Foreign Policy 4(2): 130–139.Google Scholar
  45. Evans, P. 2014. Engaging China: Myth, aspiration, and strategy in Canadian policy from Trudeau to Harper. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  46. Evans, P., and Y.P. Woo. 2004. Canada and a global China: From special relationship to policy partnership. Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  47. Fife, R. 2005. Kenney questions PM on espionage. National Post, February 3.Google Scholar
  48. Frolic, B.M. 1997. Re-engaging China: Striking a balance between trade and human rights. In Canada among Nations 1997: Asia pacific Face-Off, ed. F.O. Hampson, M.A. Molot, and M. Rudner, 323–347. Ottawa: Carleton University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Frolic, B.M. 2011. Canada and China: The China strategy of 1987. In Canadian foreign policy in the 21st century: The China challenge, ed. H. Cao, and V. Poy. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Gecelovsky, P., and T.A. Keenleyside. 1995. Canada’s international human rights policy in practice: Tiananmen square. International Journal 50(4): 564–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Gilley, B. 2008. Reawakening Canada’s China policy. Canadian Foreign Policy 14(2): 121–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Gillies, D. 1996. Between principle and practice: human rights in north-south relations. Montreal and Kingston: Mcgill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Gillis, C., and A. Mandel-Campbell. 2007. Go on take a stand. Maclean’s (March 5).Google Scholar
  54. Goar, C. 1994. Chretien makes all the right moves in China. Toronto Star, November 12.Google Scholar
  55. Greenspon, E. 1994. Canada can’t sway China on rights Pm says: Lack of influence. The Globe and Mail, 19 mars.Google Scholar
  56. Harder, P. 2008. Dealing with China. The Globe and Mail, May 24.Google Scholar
  57. Harper, S. 2014. PM delivers remarks in Beijing. Online at (consulted November 2014).
  58. Hervouet, G. 1981. Le Canada face à l’Asie de l’Est. Nouvelle Optique: Québec.Google Scholar
  59. Hervouet, G. 1983. L’Asie orientale, une option régionale pour le Canada? Études internationales 14(4): 59–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Human Rights in China. 2004. Human rights in China—looking ahead. China Rights Forum. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  61. Human Rights Watch. 2010. World report 2010. Online at (consulted June 2015).
  62. Jiang, W. 2007. Sino-Canadian relations enter uncharted waters. China Brief 7(12).Google Scholar
  63. Juneau-Katsuya, M. 2008. Espionnage: l’omniprésence de la Chine au Canada. Le Multilatéral 2(3): 3–13.Google Scholar
  64. Kent, A. 1999. China, the United Nations and human rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Kinsman, J. 2002–2003. Who is my neighbour? Trudeau and foreign policy. Canadian Studies 18: 103–120.Google Scholar
  66. Kwan, C. 2007. China and Canada: A relationship reconsidered. China Rights Forum 1: 33–37.Google Scholar
  67. Laghi, B. 2001a. PM takes bold step in China Chrétien may push trade and rights issue even more forcefully at Americas summit. The Globe and Mail, February 19.Google Scholar
  68. Laghi, B. 2001b. Chretien calls abuse in China “disturbing”: No human rights without fair trials, PM tells country’s future judges. The Globe and Mail, February 13.Google Scholar
  69. Laghi, B. 2001c. Chretien turns up the heat on China. The Globe and Mail, February 15.Google Scholar
  70. Laghi, B. 2006. Harper promises he won't ‘sell out' on rights; Moral stand trumps trade with China, PM says after snub. The Globe and Mail, November 16.Google Scholar
  71. Lan, L. 2011. Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Lan Lijun at the reception celebrating 40th Anniversary of China-Canada diplomatic relations. Ottawa. Online at (consulted March 2015).
  72. Landsberg, C. 2004. The quiet diplomacy of liberation: International politics and South Africa’s transition. Johannesburg: Jacana Media.Google Scholar
  73. Lui, Andrew. 2012. Why Canada cares: Human rights and foreign policy in theory and practice. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.Google Scholar
  74. MacGuignan, M. 1981. Canada, China and the World. Ottawa: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Google Scholar
  75. Mahoney, K.E. 1992. Human rights and Canada’s foreign policy. International Journal 47(3): 555–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Matthews, R.O., and C. Pratt (eds.). 1988. Human rights in Canadian foreign policy. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Martin, Paul. 2005. Prime Minister Paul Martin writes to Canada Falun Dafa Association: Human rights was one of the dominant issues during visit to China. Online at (consulted March 2015).
  78. Merey, C. 2010. Canada-China: Hu visit caps triumphant rise in relations. Embassy, June 23.Google Scholar
  79. Mulroney, D. 2015. Middle power, Middle Kingdom. Toronto: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
  80. National Post. 2000. Now free China. National Post, May 26.Google Scholar
  81. Nossal, K.R. 1988. Cabin’d Cribb’d, Confin’d?: Canada’s interests in human rights. In Human rights in Canadian foreign policy, ed. R.O. Matthews, and C. Pratt, 46–58. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Nossal, K.R., and L. Sarson. 2013. About face: Explaining changes in Canada’s China policy 2006–2012. Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 20(2): 146–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. O’Brien, M. 2000. The Implementation of CIDA’s China program: Resolving the disjuncture between structure and process, Département de science politique, Ph.D diss., Toronto: York University.Google Scholar
  84. Ouellet, A. 1994. Squaring our trade policy with human rights. Canadian Speeches: Issues of the day August/September: 37–42.Google Scholar
  85. Paltiel, J. 1995. Negotiating human rights with China. In Canada among Nations 1995: Democracy and foreign policy, ed. M.A. Cameron, and M.A. Molot, 165–186. Ottawa: Carleton University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Paltiel, J. 2006. Does a half-full glass justify a leap of faith? International Journal. Spring 2006: 371–387.Google Scholar
  87. Pépin, J.-L. 1984. La politique étrangère du Canada et les droits de la personne. Ottawa: Canadian Human Righst Foundation.Google Scholar
  88. Potter, P.B. 2003. Trade and human rights practices in China. Foreign policy dialogue series, 9. Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.Google Scholar
  89. Pulfer, R. 2009. Canada and China: Why is this man frowning? Canadian Business magazine, January 26. Online at (consulted December 2010).
  90. Ruimy, J. 1986. Chinese officials tell Canada to mind own business on rights. Toronto Star, May 10.Google Scholar
  91. Rusk, J. 1986. Greater sense of well-being evident in China PM says. The Globe and Mail, May 13.Google Scholar
  92. Samdup, T. 2000. The UN must recognize the Dalai Lama. The Globe and Mail, July 26.Google Scholar
  93. Sallot, J. 1991. Canada, China may be ready to improve ties. The Globe and Mail, October 4.Google Scholar
  94. Sallot, J. 1994. Canada tries balancing act with China Chretien, Ouellet pressing for trade relations while soft-pedalling human rights. The Globe and Mail, October 4.Google Scholar
  95. Simpson, J. 2007a. Domestic politics mustn’t drive our China policy. The Globe and Mail, April 25.Google Scholar
  96. Simpson, J. 2007b. With China, quiet diplomacy’s a better bet. The Globe and Mail, February 14.Google Scholar
  97. Simpson, J. 2008. Ottawa should hit the restart button on relations with China. The Globe and Mail, October 29.Google Scholar
  98. Sorensen, C. 2006. Harper right to take tough stance on China: Business will benefit. Financial Post, November 27.Google Scholar
  99. The Canadian Press. 2001. Chrétien-China, February 15.Google Scholar
  100. The Epoch Times. 2009. Harper says Canada to remain ‘vocal advocate’ for rights in China. The Epoch Times, December 4.Google Scholar
  101. The Globe and Mail. 2001. Mr. Chrétien should speak up in China, February 9.Google Scholar
  102. The Times. 1986. Mulroney question Chinese/Canadian premier ends visit, May 13.Google Scholar
  103. Trudeau, P.E. 1968. Canada and the World. Ottawa: Department of External Affairs.Google Scholar
  104. Valpy, M. 2004. Politicians to tread lightly when meeting Dalai Lama. The Globe and Mail (16 avril), p. A3.Google Scholar
  105. Wong, J. 1992. China trip suite deal for Wilson Beijing footing bill for visit by Canadian trade minister. The Globe and Mail, April 21.Google Scholar
  106. Woo, Y.P. 2003. The Re-Emergence of the Re-Emergence of Asia: And its implication for Canada-Asia relations. International Journal 58(4): 615–636.Google Scholar
  107. Woo, Y.P. 2010. Canada and China: The ties that bind. Online at (consulted April 7, 2015).
  108. Woods, A. 2006. PM holds 'frank' talk with Chinese president: Harper, Hu Jintao agree to strengthen countries’ relationship. The Ottawa Citizen, November 19.Google Scholar
  109. York, G. 2005. PM shifts tactics to woo China. The Globe and Mail, January 19.Google Scholar
  110. York, G., and A. Freeman. 2007. Sino-Canadian relations dealt severe blow: Apparent cancellation of meeting seen as reaction to Dalai Lama’s visit. The Globe and Mail, November 9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Simon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations