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Canada: Two Prominent Lawyers Write to Minister of Foreign Affairs Asking to Have Chinese Embassy Official Liu Shaohua Declared "Persona Non Grata" and Expelled From Canada

July 23, 2010 |  


On July 11, David Matas, a renowned Canadian human rights lawyer, and David Kilgour, former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific, wrote to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs. They requested the expulsion of Mr. Liu Shaohua, working as the First Secretary of Education Affairs in the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, because of his role in spurring Chinese students and community members to suppress peaceful protests. The text of the letter follows:

11 July 2010
Hon. Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Government of Canada

Dear Hon. Cannon:

Liu Shaohua from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa rallied Chinese students and scholars to suppress peaceful protests during Chinese President Hu Jintao's recent visit. His efforts led to threats and intimidation against Falun Gong practitioners by the students and other Chinese community members.

Foreign diplomats are not entitled to entry to Canada nor to remain in Canada. They can be denied entry or expelled for any reason, or no reason. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, in Article 9, states:

"The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable."

The question of the behaviour Liu Shaohua poses is not what the Government of Canada can do, but rather what the Government of Canada should do. In my view, there is more than enough evidence to justify expulsion of this official. He should be expelled.

Usually what constrains the Government of Canada when dealing with foreign officials is concerns about reciprocity. The Government of Canada will not do anything to others it would not want inflicted on its own diplomats. Yet, how long would the Government of China allow a Canadian official to stay in Beijing who tried doing something similar there to what Liu Shaohua has done in Canada? The answer is not an instant.

Repressing democratic protest in Canada is an abuse of the embassy and consular functions. The Government of Canada allows foreign diplomatic and consular officials into Canada in order to conduct diplomatic and consular functions. Repressing peaceful protest in Canada has nothing to do with these functions.

The embassies and consulates of non-democratic states should not take advantage of democratic freedoms to attempt to expand their repression abroad. Canada is a democracy and China is not. Because Canada is a democracy, it has freedoms which do not exist in China. China should not be abusing Canadian freedoms to undermine Canadian democracy.

For the embassy and consulates of China in Canada to abuse democratic freedoms to attempt to repress peaceful protest is more than just disrespect for the values of the host country. Because democracy and human rights are universal standards, this sort of misbehaviour shows disregard for universal values, values, at least in principle, the Government of China has itself accepted。

Sincerely yours,

David Matas
Barrister and Solicitor

David Kilgour
Former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific