In trying to get by, Chinese diplomats often invoke the “century of humiliation” and “unequal treaties,” referring to defeats, occupations and unilateral agreements imposed by foreign powers, beginning with the first opium war of 1839-42. In February 2019, a conflict erupted between Chinese and Canadian students and other international students on the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto. During the student elections, Chemi Lhamo, a Tibetan Canadian, was unmasked because of her ties to Tibetan nationalist groups after being elected president of the student union. Chinese students, led by Kennedy L, have launched a petition on Lhamo`s withdrawal, rejected by other Canadian students and professors, as well as international students from Hong Kong and Taiwan, who have defended Lhamo as a student union president. A party member who defended Lhamo, Leon Tsai of Taiwan and a transgender student, criticized Chinese students for not “knowing how to respect others.” Meanwhile, “Kennedy L” clarified that he was not doing for personal attacks or aggressive behavior, but for the defense of national dignity. At the same time, a group of Chinese students from McMaster University began protesting the school because he invited a Uighur from Sinkiang, Rukiye Turdush, to a conference at the university. This article first appeared on Policy Options and is published here under Creative Commons license. In Mexico, the prospects for independent trade union formation are in fact quite limited – and often subject to various forms of state coercion and violence. Yet Mexico has never been penalized under the North American Labour Cooperation Agreement (NAALC). Nevertheless, a certain degree of communication has been made between governments, businesses and trade unions. As a general rule, public institutions or agencies (like agreements reached under the agreements of the International Labour Organization and the World Trade Organization, of which China is already a member), are held responsible for the settlement of labour and trade disputes. However, the most important point to address here is that a labour agreement would allow Canada to cooperate more closely with China and within China to help improve working conditions. This is no different from the $65 million in foreign aid that Canada provided to China in 2005 to improve its legal system.

A free trade agreement would be a long-term agreement between the two countries and would likely require both sides to increase trade and improve the working conditions that China would clearly benefit from a human rights perspective.