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Cablegate: No Change in Canadian Views of China Following

VZCZCXRO3517
PP RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHMT RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #1315 2841542
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101542Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8596
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2267

UNCLAS OTTAWA 001315

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

D FOR KAYE LEE
S/P FOR JAMES GREEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO CH CA
SUBJECT: NO CHANGE IN CANADIAN VIEWS OF CHINA FOLLOWING
BEIJING OLYMPICS

REF: STATE 105510

1. (SBU) Many Canadians viewed the 2008 Beijing Summer
Olympics through the prism of Canadian preparations for the
2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and were deeply impressed by
the smooth success of the sporting events in China, as well
as by the dramatic new sporting venues. The Beijing Olympics
received widespread and generally positive media coverage,
not exclusively on events featuring Canadian athletes but
also more broadly. There were nonetheless negative reports
about internet restrictions, empty demonstration zones, the
deception over the singing during the opening ceremony, the
possibility that some Chinese gymnasts were underage, and
chronic problems with air pollution. Some reports contrasted
the high tech sporting infrastructure with other less
developed parts of China, while usually noting the dramatic
economic development over the past three decades. Prime
Minister Stephen Harper received some public criticism for
his decision not to attend the opening ceremonies, although
he did not link this decision specifically to human rights
concerns.

2. (SBU) Despite the bump in attention during the games,
China remains off the radar scope for most Canadians and not
central to Canada's fundamental foreign policy interests,
which focus primarily on the United States and on its
commitment under NATO to Afghanistan. Canadians appreciate
new economic and trade opportunities with China, while
recognizing that about 80 pct of their exports go to the U.S.
market. They retain fundamental human rights concerns about
China, with special concern about Tibet; Canada has awarded
the Dalai Lama with honorary Canadian citizenship, and PM
Harper has met with the Dalai Lama in Ottawa.

3. (SBU) The 2008 election campaign platforms of both the
ruling Conservative Party and the Official Opposition Liberal
Party (which were likely written before the Olympics,
although the Governor General did not call for new elections
-- at the government's request -- until September 7) include
only brief references to China. The Conservatives indicated
that they would proceed with plans to open a trade office in
China and other growing markets, but also promised to
establish a new non-partisan democratic promotion agency
(without linking this new agency with China specifically).
The Liberals promised to "rebuild the economic and diplomatic
relationship between Canada and China, a relationship frayed
by Conservative grandstanding and showmanship" and to "give
this relationship increased priority," notably to obtain
"Official Destination Status" so that more Chinese tourists
would visit Canada. The Liberals also announced that, if
victorious, they would establish "Canadian Centres for
Democracy" -- starting in the Middle East -- but did not
indicate if they would seek such a center in China.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

WILKINS

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