Don’t talk, Act!

I see in The Guardian that “seven former Conservative and Labour UK foreign secretaries have come together to declare …[that] … Britain must take the lead in co-ordinating the international response to China’s efforts to impose draconian security laws in Hong Kong.” They have written a letter to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggesting that the UK should “set up an international contact group similar to the one established during the Balkans crisis in the 1990s.

By golly, that’s bold action, isn’t it?

A letter to the minister asking him to set up a group … that’s sure to help … won’t it?

It’s time to stop dithering on Hong Kong. Those countries that can, and I would include Australia, Britain and Canada, even Justin Trudeau’s Canada, in that group, need to stop talking and start acting.

The first act is simple: leaders should state, publicly, in the media and on the floor of the f19f5d9eecHouse of Commons or House of Representatives that any Hong Kong resident who holds a British National (Overseas) passport (which is available to everyone born in Hong Kong before the 1997 handover) and who passes the necessary health, security and criminality checks will be accepted into the country as a refugee and will be put on a fast-track path to Permanent Resident status (in Canada’s case) and citizenship.

The second act is a little more oblique. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to sideswipe Canadian (and other) universities because many foreign students will not be able to enrol. Many of those students, in Australia, Britain and Canada, are from mainland China. It’s too late to do much to save the 2020/21 academic year. Governments will, I’m certain, have to bail lout universities, but work should be starting now to arrange for student visas for many, many Asian students to come to Australia, Britain and Canada to study. In Canada’s case, for certain, and I suspect the case is the same for many Western physicistcountries, our own high schools are not producing enough young men and women who are academically qualified to enter STEM (science, technology, Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 07.49.30engineering and mathematics)  or pre-medical programmes. Why that’s happening, why native-born Canadians can only qualify for programmes that make them lawyers or baristas, is a whole other problem. Instead of sending foreign aid to many countries, Canada should actively recruit young Indians and Malaysians and Philippines nationals and Vietnamese and so on to study in Canada, in selected programmes … our aim should be to return many of them to their homes to become needed doctors and engineers, but we should also make it clear that they will be welcome in Canada, too. The programme should implicitly exclude China, which, as a rich, developed country, does not need educational assistance from Canada.

I realize that either or both projects would scupper Justin Trudeau’s vanity project of securing a worthless, second-class, temporary seat on the UN Security Council but both would be better for Canada.

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