Human Rights and the Rule of Law: Implications for Canada-China Relations

Published: Fall 2020    |    By: Pitman B. Potter |    Volume 68, No.12
China’s rise to prosperity has seen increased tension with international standards of human rights and the rule of law such that, after a lengthy period of tentative engagement China has more recently worked to change international standards to accommodate its interests. China’s approach to human rights and the rule of law has significant implications for Canada, not only for our bilateral relations but also in terms of the impacts on international institutions that are of vital interest to Canada. In response, Canada should pursue a program of selective engagement, that combines attention to China’s abuses of human rights and the rule of law with continuing engagement on issues of bilateral and global concern.
About the Author
Pitman B. Potter is Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia. He has been working on China matters for the past fifty years. Building on his professional and academic training, Potter has enjoyed lengthy periods of residence in China, multiple professional postings and engagements, and innumerable personal ties. He has published many books and articles on China law and policy. Dr. Potter’s forthcoming book, Exporting Virtue? China’s International Human Rights Activism in the Age of Xi Jinping is expected from UBC Press later this year. Dr. Potter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has served on the Boards of Directors of several public institutions, including the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (continuing as Distinguished Fellow until his retirement in 2020) and the Canada- China Business Council (continuing as Senior Advisor until his retirement in 2020). He is also a retired Deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada (Diocese of New Westminster).