America's Destiny
Russia
China
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World Politics: Is Your Country Well Run? Your Destiny May Depend Upon It!

Why Are Some Countries Rich And Others So Poor?    What Is the Secret of Success?
  • Just as individuals have specific destinies to fulfill, so do countries. Some countries prosper greatly and have an almost magical dynamic quality to them. Their citizens seem to have a common belief system, which allows them to work together towards a specific goal or set of goals. These people have a specific purpose in life and have great initiative and enthusiasm for the future.
  • The opposite situation can also exist, as some countries seem to be mired in poverty and corruption with the majority of that country’s inhabitants living in misery and unhappiness. Even with massive economic assistance from organizations like the United Nations (UN) over the span of many decades, many of these countries seem unable to pull themselves out of their downward economic spiral, much to the concern of donor countries. How can so much money be spent to fix a problem, yet achieve so little results?
  • Many believe that wealthy countries such as the USA and those throughout Europe have much land and resources which is the basis of their wealth. That is not always true, as seen in the incredible economic power generated by Hong Kong (particularly when it was under British rule). Few places in the world have had such incredible economic success and it was available to everyone. It was the hallmark of good government working in combination with a hard working population determined to succeed. Yet Hong Kong (a small island off the coast of China) has so few resources that it has to import its water on a daily basis.
  • So what is the secret to success for countries? Why do some succeed and others fail? The two most important factors to secure a country’s future are: a) good government (i.e. one that is honest, efficient, flexible, and realistic in setting goals) and b) the belief system of a country’s people and the value they place on honesty and hard work.
    • Even thousands of years ago, the importance of good government became evident when it was written: “Where there is no vision [leadership], the people perish”.  An excellent example of this is the country of Venezuela in South America.  Once one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it is now one of the poorest!  

Countries to watch in 2022:

  • United States of America (USA)
  • China
  • Russia
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Canada

Common Issues (worldwide):

  • How will your country’s politicians handle the economic and social aftermath of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic?
  • Should your government investigate what role China and the World Health Organization (WHO) had in the COVID-19 global pandemic?
  • Should your government impose a Coronavirus Compensation Tax (CCT) or other financial penalty upon China to help pay for the economic costs for the COVID-19 global outbreak?

1.  Country:  United States of America (USA)

On November 3, 2020, the USA held its presidential election: voters were asked to choose between the incumbent Republican president, Donald Trump,  or the candidate running for the Democratic Party, Joe Biden.  Biden won and has been serving as America’s 46th president since January 20, 2021 (along with Kamala Harris, Vice-President).  

The Top Five (5) Issues Facing America in 2022
Issue #1:  The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic:  How to get America’s economy back on track

Background

  • Infection – Death Rate:  As of March 21, 2022, the total number of confirmed cases in the US of people who had become infected (at some point during this pandemic) was 79.9 million.  Amongst those people over 976,500 people have died (almost a million people).
  • Economic Cost:  The economic cost to the American economy is an estimated $16 trillion US, according to Harvard economists.
  • Unemployment:  In April 2020 about 40 million Americans were unemployed.  That number has dramatically decreased thanks to the pandemic receding and as of Jan 2022 stood at 6.5 million.
  • Another Possible  Wave: The coronavirus pandemic is still not officially over, but most states have begun to relax their covid-19 restrictions.  Over 215 million Americans have been fully vaccinated.  The omicron variant of covid-19 infected many people in the USA recently, but it would appear to not have been as lethal as previously feared.  Currently there is a new strain of the omicron variant, called BA.2.  Researchers are still trying to determine if this new variant will be more severe than the omicron variant.  If not, then the USA is on track to seeing the end of the coronavirus pandemic (at least for the moment).  
  • A Balancing Act (Health vs the Economy):  Government leaders both at the national and state level have had to balance the need to ensure public health with the need to get people working again. No country can afford to keep its economy on long-term lockdown without risking a severe economic depression (which could be just as bad as the coronavirus itself as it could throw millions of people into being homeless and impoverished).
  • Shortage of PPE and Pharmaceutical Drugs:  A major problem emerged during this pandemic:  the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for workers, especially health care workers (e.g. doctors, nurses, ambulance attendants) and sanitization equipment (e.g. gloves, disinfectants, wipes).  Also evident was the shortage of vital pharmaceutical drugs such as penicillin, antibiotics, and ibuprofen, many of which are made in China (not in the USA).  

Observations / Possible Courses of Action:

  • PPE and Pharmaceutical Drug Shortages & Free Trade:  Years ago, American businesses closed their factories in the USA and re-opened them in China (to ensure higher profits). This decision put American lives at risk.  Since the factories are in China and the Chinese government needs these supplies for its own people, American requests for supplies have been a low priority.  Americans experienced first-hand a major drawback to so-called Free Trade: American companies that locate their operations to other countries are not there to serve American interests.
  • Employment:  The government should ensure that American companies give higher priority to hiring American workers rather than non-Americans.
  • Economic Compensation:  Given the preliminary evidence that China was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, the government could consider imposing a Coronavirus Compensation Tax (CCT) upon all goods entering the USA from China, and from income earned by American companies operating in China.  The CCT could be used to compensate the US government, State governments, and businesses for the negligence of the communist government within China who withheld vital health information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and let the coronavirus spread globally, reaping havoc upon the USA, Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world.  Such a proposal is already under discussion within the USA.
Issue #2:  Restore America’s Manufacturing Sector: “Made in USA” versus “Made in China”

Background

  • For decades America has been systematically losing its manufacturing sector, primarily to countries like China.
  • In the 1950‘s and 1960”s America built everything (e.g. refrigerators, TV’s, cars, airplanes, furniture, etc) and prospered –  it had the greatest economy in the entire world.
  • At the moment if you walk into any store within America, the majority of the products for sale will say “Made in China”, everything from shoes to refrigerators.
  • Around 2018, an American consumer was curious to see how many American products, if any, were being sold in American stores, so he simply walked into a major retail outlet in his home town and recorded where all of its products were made. Apparently, 90% of everything in the store was made elsewhere (mostly in China). This random survey became quite contentious amongst the business community when it was published, as it highlighted just how bad the American manufacturing sector has deteriorated.
American Businesses Are Enriching China’s Manufacturing Sector

Beginning in the early 1980‘s, American businesses started having their products produced overseas (primarily China) for a fraction of the US production cost.  These goods (many of which were sub-standard in quality) were then shipped back into the USA to be resold at full retail prices. For example, if a pair of men’s shoes could be produced in a Chinese factory for $10, it was then resold in the USA for $100. Such a system has benefited American businesses (at the expense of American workers and consumers) and the Chinese economy (i.e. it enriches the factory owners, officers within the Red Army, and Chinese Communist Party officials who work in partnership with the business community). China has grown rich and powerful thanks in part to businessmen and businesswomen from many first-world countries, primarily the USA.

Possible Courses of Action:

  • Implement a “Made in America” manufacturing policy, giving preference to products made in the USA. If an American company imports products into the USA made in other countries, then it should pay an import levy. Revenue earned from products produced and sold within the USA should be favorably taxed (i.e. impose higher rates of income taxes on offshore operations).  (Note:  See the video above of Senator Tom Cotton, Arkansas, addressing this issue.)
  • Use the tax system to reward those companies that are actually located in the USA. If an American company decides to close its factory in the USA, and go overseas, then tax that company at a much higher rate.  If that company received any previous federal, state, or local government financial incentives to operate in the USA, then it should be required to pay back such incentives.
Issue #3. Stop the flow of refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and illegal immigrants into the USA

Background

  • Refugees:  At present the UN’s International Convention on Refugees (passed in 1951) is helping to fuel the mass exodus of refugees world-wide from third-world into first-world countries. Most of these refugees are economic migrants, seeking access to the generous welfare system of places like Europe and North America. Working with these so-called refugees is a highly sophisticated group of organized criminals who specialize in people smuggling (which has now become even more lucrative than the drug trade). The UN has done little to stem the flood of refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and illegal immigrants which threatens to destabilize entire countries and regions.  In 2015, the UN estimated the number of international migrants to be around 244 million people.  By 2020, that number increased to 281 million.
  • Inadmissible & Illegal Immigration: According to the US Border Patrol, for the Southern border (with Mexico),  for 2018, a total of 396,579 people tried to enter the US illegally (not by means of a border crossing).  For 2019, the number of people was 851,508 (a 115% increase from the previous year). In 2021 that number has increased to 1.7 million (the highest number of illegal entries in 20 years).  
  • Misinformation in the News Media:  There is a confusing, but alarming trend in what the mainstream American media reports in regards to news conferences especially those that were given by former President Trump, particularly when he mentioned that his administration was against “illegal immigration”.  After the president’s news conference, when you watched the mainstream media such as CNN News, it was reported that President Trump was against “immigration”.  For some unknown reason, the news media always seemed to leave out the word “illegal”.  There is a huge difference between “illegal immigration” and “immigration”.  The latter implies legal immigration, which is something that former President Trump had no control over (nor did he try to ban).  Illegal immigration is out-of-control (not legal immigration), and getting worse.  It’s an issue that has to be dealt with.         

Possible Courses of Actions:

  • Refugee Problem:  Withdraw the USA from the International Convention on Refugees (known as the UN 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol). This legislation is outdated. The USA could then implement its own rules and policies on how to treat any potential refugees entering (or trying to enter) the USA.
  • Increase Border Patrol Resources:  The Border Patrol, particularly for the Southern border (with Mexico) needs more resources:  e.g.  border officers, patrol equipment, etc.
  • Hold Mexico More Accountable:  Mexico has become a depository for people from all over the world trying to enter the USA illegally. The US government should request Mexico to stop allowing people to easily enter Mexico without a visa or immigration clearance. 
Issue #4:  Immigration Reform: What to do with so many illegal immigrants already in the USA?

Background:  In 2017, there was an estimated 10.5 million illegal immigrants living in the USA:  62% overstayed their visa and 38% have crossed the border illegally.  Former President Donald Trump  threatened to have mass deportations, but that was easier said than done. By 2022, that number has increased to 12 million illegal immigrants.  

Possible Courses of Action:

  • Reform the System:  The US Congress has to reform the immigration system, so that it’s fair to everyone (if possible).  The government has to ensure that illegal immigrants are not given preferential treatment over legal immigrants. If they don’t, then there is no incentive to move to the USA legally and it would ensure that most people would simply enter the USA illegally (i.e. use the services of a “people smuggler”), and claim either to be a refugee or asylum seeker.  If the government provides a legal loophole to its immigration policies, unscrupulous people will take advantage of it.
  • Implement a Merit-Based Immigration Policy:  Former  President Trump  stated that the USA should move to a merit-based immigration policy, welcoming those who can contribute to the USA, grow the American economy, and assimilate into it with few problems. He wanted the USA to move away from taking in poor and unskilled immigrants, especially every time a natural disaster hits somewhere in the world. For decades, the USA seems to be the one country that is supposed to take care of the rest of the world after a natural disaster. Such a policy is no longer realistic, particularly given the increasing number of natural disasters hitting the entire USA (from coast to coast): for example in 2017, wild fires were burning out of control throughout huge areas of California, massive flooding was taking place throughout entire areas of Florida, and widespread damage hit Puerto Rico due to hurricanes. Many Americans were waiting for natural disaster relief themselves. Such Americans, in particular, could argue that it is a bit unrealistic and unfair for the USA to be more concerned with victims of natural disasters outside of the USA at the expense of its own people. Many Americans would argue the motto: “Take care of your family first!”
Issue #5:  How to Get America’s Rate of Inflation Under Control

In October 2021 the rate of inflation in America hit a 30-year high of 6.2%.  A year earlier, it was only 1.37%.  Then, in February 2022, the US rate of inflation hit 7.9%, a 40-year high (even before the price of oil went up due to the war in Europe).  Americans are paying more for heating fuel, food, rent, gasoline, cars and every other necessity.  Inflation is hitting the poor and the middle class the hardest.  Yet in the midst of such misfortune, Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, and President Joe Biden are downplaying the problem.  The Federal Reserve has intentionally kept interest rates (the cost of borrowing) near zero for the past several years.  Such a policy is unrealistic, as everything has a cost.  This deliberate government intervention (which has primarily benefitted the business community) is now fueling inflation with no end in sight.  At the same time consumers and businesses as well as governments are taking on massive amounts of debt. 

Jerome Powell believes that the higher interest rates are caused by disruptions in the global supply chain.  This belief, however, does not explain why some cities are experiencing huge increases in real estate costs, sometimes as much as 18% in one month.  Consumers are being lured into paying higher costs with the promise of cheap mortgage interest rates.  Many of these consumers are even getting into bidding wars as they take on massive debt.  Higher real estate costs in turn are increasing rental costs which is pushing more Americans into homelessness.  The average American’s dream of owning one’s own home (at a reasonable cost) is now farther away than ever before!

Will the Democratic Party Lose Its Majority in the House of Representatives in Midterm 2022 Elections?

Under tremendous pressure to take America’s inflation problem serious, the Federal Reserve in March 2022 raised interest rates by a mere 0.25% up to about 0.33%.  This rate increase was widely perceived as a token insignificant amount, the first increase in interest rates since 2018.  Some American economists are publicly denouncing the Federal Reserve and warning that interest rates may need to go as high as 18% in order to stop the inflationary spiral currently engulfing America.  No doubt many American economists are looking at Turkey’s inflationary issues and wondering whether the USA will experience the same problem.  President Erdogan of Turkey has followed Jerome Powell’s belief in deliberating keeping interest rates at their current level (almost zero for the USA and at 14% for Turkey as of February 2022) in the belief that what is good for the business sector is good for the general population as a whole.  Such a belief is unfortunately unrealistic.  Turkey’s rate of inflation as of February 2022 has now hit 54% and each month it gets worse (two months earlier it was 38%).  Apparently, President Erdogan refuses to allow Turkey’s central bank to increase interest rates.  Unless the rate of inflation is brought under control, Turkey’s economy will collapse.  (Canada, for example, in February 1991 had to increase interest rates to 16% in order to stop inflation.)  America seems to be heading in the same direction as Turkey (and vice-versa).  On November 8, 2022, America will hold midterm elections in which all seats in the House of Representatives and 35 senate seats will be contested.  Many political analysts predict that the Democratic Party will lose its current majority in the House of Representatives and even some senate seats due to the government’s inability to address inflation.  

Possible Course of Action:  Request the President of the USA to consider replacing members of the Federal Reserve who are not serious in fighting inflation.  Interest rates need to go up to a realistic level (traditionally the rate has been around 5% – at present it is only about 0.33%).  

2.  Country:  China

Background:  A Brief Summary of China’s Modern History

On October 1, 1949 the leader of China’s Communist Party, Mao Zedong, announced to the world the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  Since then China has been ruled by the Communist Party.

There is absolutely no democracy permitted within China.  Any criticism of the Communist Party is illegal.

Three important events have taken place within China that demonstrate the incredible sense of control that the Communist Party exerts over its people:

Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1962)
  • Communist Party Leader, Mao Zedong, initiated a 5-year plan to turn all of China’s farming areas into gigantic collectives.  He nicknamed this plan the “Great Leap Forward”. 
  • This policy was in effect from 1958 to 1962.  All of China’s farmers had their land, homes, and belongings confiscated by the communist government.  They were then sent to farming collectives and forced to farm the land. 
  • The Great Leap Forward policy was a disaster of unbelievable proportion, as the collectives failed to produce enough food to feed China’s farmers, most of whom were peasants.
  • Even when the obvious failure of his collectivism “experiment” was made evident, Mao Zedong refused to admit defeat.  He knew millions of his own people (he too had once been a peasant) were starving to death, yet he did nothing to help them.
  • According to historian, Frank Dikotter, author of the book “Mao’s Great Famine”, Mao Zedong allowed up to 45 million Chinese peasants to die of starvation, which made Mao the greatest mass murderer in modern history, even surpassing Adolf Hitler and  Joseph Stalin.
  • Out of the 45 million people who died: almost 8% were tortured then killed, 2% committed suicide, and 5% died in labor camps.
  • Historian Frank Dikotter describes the atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party during the Great Leap Forward as an historical blind spot for western countries.  Such countries have concentrated disproportionately on Adolf Hitler and his Holocaust, while ignoring the disaster in China during this period.  
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976)
  • Communist leader, Mao Zedong, initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in May 1966 in order to reassert his control over the Communist Party.
  • For 10 years China underwent continual violence, turmoil, bloodshed, starvation, and a deteriorating economy. 
  • Madness and the rule of the mob reigned, it was as though China went into a period of total anarchy, all fuelled by Mao Zedong:  students murdered their teachers, people were attacked on the streets just for wearing clothes that looked too bourgeois, intellectuals were murdered just for being an intellectual, millions of urban youth were ordered to be relocated to the countryside for “re-education” purposes, and even communist party officials were murdered by the mob for no reason.  Mao vowed to remove anyone within Chinese society who wanted to steer China towards capitalism.
  • The only reason the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 was due to Mao’s sudden death.
  • Historians estimated that between 500,000 and 2 million innocent people were killed during the Cultural Revolution.
Tiananmen Square Incident (1989)
  • In 1989, thousands of unarmed students gathered in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to protest against China’s one party government.  They wanted a more democratic government.
  • The communist government ordered the students to leave.  When they refused, the government sent in troops and tanks to put an end to the protest.
  • Chinese troops opened fire on unarmed innocent students, killing thousands of them and arresting 10,000 students.
  • The western media followed the protest.  At one very poignant moment a young man stood in front of a tank, preventing it from killing any of the protesters.  He earned international acclaim and was nicknamed the “Tiananmen Square Tank Man”.  After the protest was stomped out, he was arrested and within 14 days  executed by the government.  
Issue #1:  How to Deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic:  Tell or Hide the Truth?

Misinformation: The Covid-19 coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China in November 2019 which led to the first recorded case appearing on December 1, 2019. China’s ruling communist party has had problems at times even acknowledging that basic fact.  They have begun to spread misinformation, at one point blaming the US military for bringing the coronavirus into Wuhan, and later even blaming Europe for spreading the virus and starting the pandemic.  On December 28, 2020, the Chinese government sentenced a Chinese journalist, Zhang Zhan, to four years in prison.  Her only “crime” was reporting about the covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.  At times the Chinese government has even tried to claim that covid-19 does not even exist in China anymore.  Given the need for the Chinese authorities to appear to be in complete control of the covid-19 pandemic, it may be difficult to explain why on March 28, 2022 the entire city of Shanghai, China’s financial capital and largest city with 26 million inhabitants, has been placed in lockdown.  

WHO Involvement:  Preliminary investigations have alleged that the communist government hid the severity of the new coronavirus not only from their own people but also from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the rest of the world.  

SARS Epidemic:  In 2003, according to the WHO, China’s communist leaders covered up the previous coronavirus pandemic (the SARS epidemic), which would give little credibility to any denial on the part of the current communist government in the COVID-19 crisis.  

Compensation:  For the first time, some Western countries such as the USA are pushing back and refusing to accept the misinformation issued by China’s communist government.  The USA has even hinted at demanding that China reimburse the American government for all of its expenses in fighting COVID-19.  This could easily amount to over $16 trillion US for the USA alone.  If other countries follow suit, it could be very expensive for China.

Issue #2:  Is it Safe for Foreigners to do Business in China?

Until recently, the communist government could promise foreign businessmen (and businesswomen) that it was safe to do business in China: as a western investor you could come and go without worry. That situation has now changed, as according to recent news media (e.g. CBC News) reports, western businessmen have begun to be arrested arbitrarily by China’s secret police, and effectively held for ransom. 

If you are a businessman or businesswoman, you must consider the following before you decide to do business with China, particularly if you want to invest in its manufacturing sector (e.g. factories).  The opportunity to make higher profits can come with a very high price, even affecting your safety and well-being such as:

Arbitrary Arrest:  China has no individual rights.  Unlike the USA, there is no Bill of Rights. The Chinese Communist Party decides what is right and wrong.  No one can question their decisions nor their authority.  If you are in China (e.g. conducting business), you or any members of your company or family can be subject to arbitrary arrest by Chinese secret police. Such an event happened to two Canadian businessmen who were in China both conducting routine business. On December 10, 2018, Michael Kovrig was arrested in Beijing and Michael Spavor was arrested in Dandong.  Both were arbitrarily arrested, accused of breaking China’s national security laws, and thrown in prison where they had no contact with the outside world.  On September 24, 2021 after nearly three years in jail, the two Michaels were released from prison after the Canadian government had freed Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei.  Ms. Wanzhou was supposed to have been extradited to the USA to face bank fraud charges.  In effect, it was a prisoner exchange:  the Chinese government deliberately arrested the two Canadian businessmen and held them for ransom until the Canadian government freed Meng Wanzhou and allowed her to return to China.    

Asset Confiscation:  Your company’s assets can be confiscated at any time without any recourse (i.e. the government can nationalize your company at any time).  

Bribes:  There have been ongoing allegations for years that foreign businesses will need to pay “administrative fees” (i.e. bribes) to conduct business in China. These fees are then paid to communist party officials, which enables that foreign company to undertake its business affairs. In 2017 a news media report stated that the typical annual salary of a communist party official was roughly $25,000 US; yet such communist party officials (or their families) are able to purchase luxury properties, particularly abroad in cities such as Vancouver, Canada.  

Possible Future Criminal Charges:  At some point in the future, if China does become a democracy, you could be charged by the new democratic Chinese government of “aiding and abetting” the communist regime. Even if that event does not happen for some time, the current communist regime could charge you with trying to bribe a government official (even though such a practice is apparently quite common).  Corruption within the communist government is an ongoing issue for its leaders.  The division between rich and poor is getting wider, and that does not look good for a so-called communist government (whose basis is supposed to be equality amongst everyone in society).    

Poor Quality Control: The goods that your company wants manufactured in China will more than likely be of poor quality, as there is little quality control. For example, years ago when steel was imported into the USA from China it was found to be substandard, easily fracturing which made it a poor building material.  Even products not manufactured such as fresh seafood have had quality control problems, riddled with contaminants such as antibiotics.  

Health Concerns: If you spend time in China, your physical health can be comprised due to high levels of air and water pollution. The lack of environmental controls is part of the reason why China is able to cheaply manufacture products.  

Issue #3:  What to do about Hong Kong: free it or suppress it?

Former British Colony:  Hong Kong used to be a colony of the British Empire.  This city (and its surrounding territory) was returned to China in 1997 where it became a special administrative region, retaining a separate government and economic system from that of mainland China.  Before Britain transferred control of Hong Kong, China had agreed to respect Hong Kong’s political autonomy and guarantee it for 50 years.  

Wealthy City:  Before its return, Hong Kong had become one of the world’s most wealthy and successful capitalist cities.  It was truly “the jewel in the crown” for China to have added this city to its territory.  The Chinese communist government recognized Hong Kong’s tremendous economic worth, and promised to retain Hong Kong’s way of life, so that it could continue to generate huge revenue from international trade.  Chinese government officials even used the slogan “One country, two systems” to demonstrate their commitment to Hong Kong’s special status.

Ongoing Protests: As time has progressed, the Chinese communist government has forgotten its promise to Hong Kong, and tried to subordinate it to the governance of the mainland communist government.  The end result has been ongoing protests from Hong Kong residents who do not want to see their way of life destroyed and assimilated into the communist system.  Those protests and any civil liberties are now banned by China.

National Security Law:  In May 2020 the Chinese communist government imposed a National Security Law, which basically removed Hong Kong’s autonomy and the civil liberties of its residents. On June 30th of that year, China then enacted that new law, taking complete control over Hong Kong and destroying its democracy.  China’s assimilation plan will more than likely destroy Hong Kong as we know it, effectively “killing its golden goose”!  This should not be surprising as the hallmark of China’s communist government has always been to ensure control and conformity to its policies, no matter what the cost.  In protest, the American government threatened to end Hong Kong’s special trade status, a move that could cost China billions of dollars in lost revenue.  China ignored the threat and on July 14, 2020 former President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending Hong Kong’s special trade status.  It was truly the end of an era!  Some analysts have suggested that China may reconsider its oppressive policies towards Hong Kong, but that is unlikely.  In early 2022, Chinese authorities have continued their attack upon Hong Kong’s democracy and have begun arresting journalists who speak out for Hong Kong’s human rights.  The rest of the world has to accept reality:  Hong Kong is no longer open for business!  Do not even travel there, as Chinese authorities can now arbitrarily arrest you and put you in prison (just like they did with Canada’s two Michaels).  

3.  Country:  Russia

 Russia has been ruled by President Vladimir Putin since May 7, 2000 (now over 20 years).  As former head of Russia’s notorious secret service (the KGB), he has ruled Russia with an iron fist, strengthening Russia and ensuring that it remains a world power.  However, it has come at a huge cost, especially economically and politically to most Russians.  

Issue #1:  How to handle the coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic?

No COVID-19:  Until fairly recently, Russian government officials claimed that there was no problem with the coronavirus (COVID-19).  Putin himself assured the world that Russia had been “lucky” and was spared from the epidemic.  Putin’s response was remarkably similar to that of communist China (who has consistently downplayed the pandemic’s effects upon China).  The facts, however, give a different scenario.  

Epidemic:  As of May 25, 2020 Russia had 353,427 people who had become infected with COVID-19 with 3,633 deaths.  At that time Russia had the world’s third largest number of COVID-19 cases. As of February 2022, the number of Russians infected with covid-19 had escalated to 12.8 million with over 335,000 deaths.  

Questionable Statistics:  In 2020, the official infection and death rate numbers were been questioned by health officials outside Russia, particularly Russia’s remarkably low death rate.  According to some news media reports, Russian doctors have been instructed by the government to classify coronavirus deaths as being due to pneumonia, not the coronavirus (so as conceal the true extent of the epidemic spreading throughout Russia).

Issue #2:  What to do about the war with the Ukraine that Putin started?  

Putin’s Rule:  Putin has ruled Russia as its president for over 20 years.  He is now 69 years old.  He refuses to step down and make way for a younger leader.  

President for Life:  In May 2020 Russia’s State Duma approved changes to Russia’s constitution so that Putin could stay on as president to 2036 (at which time Putin will be 83 years old).  

Dictatorship:  Putin has turned Russia into a dictatorship:  elections are meaningless (as the successful candidates have already been selected); all of the major news media companies are controlled by the government (so you only hear what the government wants you to hear); and anyone who stands up to Putin is either sent to prison or mysteriously murdered (such as Boris Nemtsov).

Attack on the Ukraine:  On February 24, 2022, Putin ordered Russian troops to attack the Ukraine for no apparent reason.  Russia’s actions have created the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II and left many cities in the Ukraine in ruins.  Even if Putin wins the war, he loses!  What good is any country if its infrastructure and economy is in ruins?  Putin has threatened many times to restore Russia’s empire (i.e. what was once Eastern Europe), and it now appears that he has made good on his threats.  Many Europeans in particular are now in shock and disbelief that Putin could act so ruthlessly and irresponsibly.  When Putin declared himself president for life, most Europeans should have realized that he was on par with previous Russian dictators such as Stalin and Czar Nicholas II.  Instead of trying to appease Putin (which many western politicians did), the West should have been building up its military forces and made the Ukraine part of the EU and NATO.  

Putin’s State of Health:  Putin has always been boastful of his superior health.  That is now in question.  Putin has appeared in public in March 2022 with a bloated face and neck, which medical professionals are citing as evidence that he is undergoing possible steroid or chemotherapy drug treatment.  Rumors abound that Putin may be suffering from cancer.  At the same time, he has also appeared in public rambling like a madman, which is the total opposite of his usual cool, in-control demeanor.  Putin’s health could deteriorate to the point that he will no longer be able to function as usual, in which case he will need to be replaced (and dictators do not usually resign).  

Possible Course of Action:  The entire world (by means of the UN) has to band together and denounce Russia for its reckless behavior.  Economic sanctions and travel restrictions have to be imposed to cripple Russia’s economy and make the Russian people aware that the rest of the world won’t pacify Russia anymore.  If Russians want to support Putin, then they can pay the price of doing so!  Also, all western countries need to send military and financial aid to the Ukraine.  The NATO alliance, particularly within the EU, has to increase its military forces dramatically.  In 2018, former President Trump criticized NATO countries for not meeting their military obligations.  Such criticism was met by anger from European members of NATO.  It would appear that Trump was just forcing Europeans to accept reality:  they cannot assume that the USA is going to continue to bear the brunt of NATO’s expenses and military obligations.  The European allies have to do their part.  

Issue #3:  What to do about the Wealth Inequality?

Russia’s GDP:  Since 2008, the GDP of Russia has stayed the same.  Many Russians have seen a continual drop in their standard of living.  The average monthly pension, for example, is now only $210 US per month, which is not enough to live on. Many Russian seniors are starving, as they don’t have enough money to buy food or pay for heating.

The Oligarchs:  Russia’s wealth (e.g. its vast oil reserves) are siphoned off by Putin and his oligarchs (businessmen who have been given monopolies by Putin).  They live in total luxury while the rest of Russia lives in misery and poverty.

Personal Wealth of Putin:  Apparently Putin is one of the world’s most richest men. In 2019, the US Senate Judiciary Committee was informed that Putin’s personal fortune is estimated at $200 billion US.  Putin believes that what belongs to Russia, belongs to him.  In March 2022 the British media reported that his personal luxury mansion on the Black Sea was worth $1.3 billion USD.  Most Russians are lucky to even pay their monthly rent! 

Income Inequality:  The distribution of wealth within Russia is so stark that Putin and his oligarchs have basically re-created the society that existed before the 1917 Russian Revolution with Putin acting as Czar Nicholas II and his oligarchs acting as Russia’s aristocracy (the dukes, counts, and princes).  The czar and his aristocrats all lived in splendor while the masses slowly starved to death.  It was this vast disparity in income that eventually turned the Russian people to revolt in 1917; and it may be the catalyst to foment revolution again at some point in the very near future.   

Secret Police:  To maintain his hold on Russia’s citizens, Putin uses his secret police, the Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB is the successor to the infamous KGB (of which Putin was its head).  Apparently Czar Nicholas II did the same thing:  his secret police arrested, tortured, and murdered anyone opposing the rule of the czar.  History appears to be repeating itself.  

4.  Country:  Germany

Issue #1: How long will Germany continue to “bankroll” the European Union (EU)?  

Greek Debt: Since 2010, the Greek government, a member of the European Union (EU), has borrowed 320 billion euros, primarily from the EU and individual EU countries. The amount of loans to Greece has been the biggest financial rescue of a bankrupt country in mankind’s history.  As of 2015, Greece owed individual countries such as Germany 56 billion euros, France 42 billion euros, Italy 37 billion euros, and Spain 25 billion euros.

Greek Bailout: So far, Greece has had 3 major bailouts from the EU.  No doubt more bailouts will be necessary.  Financial analysts have described Greece as a bottomless money pit, draining financial resources from the EU with no end in sight.  During the last bailout, former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel had the opportunity to correct this dire situation; instead she agreed to continue the EU’s financial support of Greece and allow Greece to stay on the euro currency.  It is common knowledge, however, that Greece will never be able to re-pay the massive amounts of monies that it has been borrowing.  Given this situation, Germany will need to write off all of Greece’s bad loans, and charge everything to German taxpayers.

European Central Bank:  Germany contributes almost 21.5% of the capital of the European Central Bank, but has negligible authority on its Governing Council as to how the money should be spent.  

EU Budget:  In 2018, Germany’s contributed 20.78% to the EU’s budget , the highest of any EU member state, more than Italy (11.74%) and Spain (8.31%) combined.  

EU Budget Increase:  In 2020, Germany’s net annual EU budget contribution (i.e. the amount of money Germany pays in excess of what it receives back) was 15 billion euros. The EU wants to steadily raise Germany’s annual net contribution so that by 2027 it will be paying up to 33 billion euros (over a 100% increase in its budget payments to the EU).  Apparently a major reason is that the EU needs Germany to help make up the budget shortage caused by the United Kingdom (UK) leaving the EU in 2020.  The amount that Germany paid into the EU in 2020 was 28 billion euros.  

Corona Bonds:  Several EU member states are in financial trouble, particularly Spain and Italy.  As of 2020, Italy, for example, has a debt of 2.5 trillion euros due to the Italian government overspending in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Italy’s debt is now 130% of its GDP (second only to Greece).  Even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Italy’s banks (as well as Spain’s) were on the verge of bankruptcy.  Italy, Spain, and France have requested the EU to issue common debt financial instruments known as Corona Bonds.  These countries want the massive debt that would need to be repaid on the books of the EU, not individual countries.  In other words, Italy’s debt would become part of Germany’s debt, not its own. At the moment, Italy is kept financially afloat due to the European Central Bank buying its debt in the financial markets.

Coronavirus Financial Damage:  All EU member states have been financially hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, even Germany.  The German government has had to spend billions of euros propping up its own businesses and banks as well as providing financial support to its own people.  To date, these payments have amounted to 7% of Germany’s GDP, and there is no end yet to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Issue #2: Is Germany’s Financial Contributions to NATO too Little?

NATO Contributions:  All member states of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed many years ago to spend a minimum 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on national defence.  Former American President, Donald Trump, emphatically stated that it’s not the USA’s responsibility to be the world’s policeman. He wanted to reduce the USA’s financing of everyone else’s protection, particularly with NATO (which is responsible for Europe’s defence).

American Contributions:  Even though there are 28 member states, it was reported in 2017 that the USA contributes 22% of the NATO budget. Also, in 2017 the American president stated that the USA was spending 3.61% of its GDP towards national defence while Germany was only spending 1.2% (a little more than Canada’s 1.02%).

NATO Budget Targets:  Again all member states of NATO are supposed to be equal, but as of 2017 only 5 member states were meeting the 2% target. The German government under former Chancellor Angela Merkel denied that Germany was not contributing its fair share towards defence spending, yet the statistics prove otherwise. The USA will not continue the status quo, so Germany will have to reluctantly devote more financial resources to its own national defence and not rely so heavily upon the USA (which it has done since the end of World War II).  Apparently Germany will not be able to meet’s its NATO defence spending goal until 2031.  That may not be acceptable to the USA and other allies, as many would argue that Germany is not taking its NATO responsibilities serious.

Observation: It does not help Germany’s case when by all observations Germany seems to have no problem allocating massive amounts of extra funds (hundreds of billions of euros) to willingly take in over 1.3 million refugees, giving them access to German’s generous welfare system (many of these refugees were living in Turkey and were not living in war-like conditions), yet it can’t find the money to pay its fair share of NATO costs.

Issue #3: Germany’s New Political Landscape: The Rise of Nationalism and the AfD

Germany had a national election on September 24, 2017 and its results were quite shocking, particularly for its longtime chancellor, Angela Merkel. Even though she was re-elected as chancellor for a 4th term, her policies allowed a right-wing pro-nationalist political party to enter the German Parliament (the Bundestag) for the first time since World War II. The AfD (Alternative for Germany) party won 94 seats in Parliament, and is now the third largest political party.

Interestingly, support for the AfD was highest amongst those aged from 35 to 44 years and lowest amongst those age 70 and older. Afd has vowed to rein in Angela Merkel to prevent her from allowing refugees and migrants indiscriminately into Germany (where they can gain access to Germany’s welfare system). The Afd is not a fan of the euro and wants Germany to return to its previous currency, the Deutschmark.

Should Germany abandon the euro and the European Union?

Net Contributor Status:  The German economy is the strongest in Europe. Given that fact, Germany could easily abandon the euro and return to the Deutschmark. It will be interesting to see how much longer the average German taxpayer is willing to fund (and basically prop up) many of the poor economies within the European Union (EU) such as Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.  It is making less and less economic (business) sense for Germany to fund the EU. It’s financial contributions are steadily increasing with no end in sight.  It is officially classified as a “net” contributor, which is a nice way to say that it pays more into the EU than it receives back.  (The United Kingdom was also a net contributor for many years, and this fact became the major reason why the United Kingdom decided to leave the EU.)  

High Health Care Costs:  In many ways, Germany does not need the European Union as much as the European Union needs Germany. New political parties such as AfD can easily argue that German taxpayers funds should be spent on such initiatives as trying to reduce the amount that Germans have to pay each month for their ever increasing health care costs (which on average can be between 400 to 700 euros – $440 to $769 US – per month with 50% of that cost covered if you have an employer) as opposed to Germany spending its tax revenue trying to endlessly prop up other EU countries (many of which are mismanaged and have little incentive to change, especially since Germany is basically bankrolling the EU).  

Issue #4:  Did Germany’s Appeasement Policy Towards Putin Fail the EU and the Ukraine?

Up until December 2021,  Angela Merkel was Germany’s chancellor (equivalent to the post of president or prime minister).  She was revered by the majority of Germans:  she could do no wrong, and for the past 16 years represented German interests with the rest of the world.  She was raised in communist East Germany, is fluent in Russian, and has had a very long term “friendship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  During that time, Chancellor Merkel did little to enhance Germany’s military capability, as a matter of fact under her leadership Germany’s military was underfunded and basically allowed to wither away.  Had Germany been attacked by a foreign power, it could not have defended itself (relying as usual upon the USA to come to its rescue).  For her entire term in office, Chancellor Merkel followed an appeasement policy, particularly with Russia.  In 2014, Russia attacked the Ukraine and annexed the Crimea.  In response,  the USA put forth the initiative to its European allies of arming the Ukraine (to repel any further Russian attacks).  Both Chancellor Merkel and then French President Francois Hollande intervened: they both opposed the idea, suggesting that diplomacy with President Putin of Russia would be sufficient. 

In 2005, ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, ratified the Nord Stream pipeline project, connecting Germany to Russia’s gas distribution system.  After he left office, he became Chairman of Nord Stream.  When Angela Merkel took over from Schroder, she continued his policy of making Germany dependent upon Russia for their energy needs.  When former President Donald Trump of the USA and President Zelenskiy of the Ukraine criticized this project, they were ignored.  This massive pipeline project was finally completed in September 2021.  Germany then began the certification process, which would have easily been given except for massive criticism of the project from its allies.  Germany is the key member of the EU: it basically keeps the EU financed and operating.  It is also a key member of NATO, yet Germany under Chancellor Merkel ignored the obvious security concerns (i.e. making Germany dependent upon Russia) and financial implications (i.e. transferring vast sums of money to Putin who would have used the funds to finance his military ambitions) that other countries were worried about.  In February 2022, Putin attacked the Ukraine and sent in an estimated 100,000 to 190,000 troops.  Former Chancellor Merkel (who left the office in December 2021) misjudged Putin.  Her 16 years of diplomacy and systematic reduction of Germany’s military was a complete failure.  While she talked, Putin quietly built up his military, until he was ready to invade the Ukraine.  Germany single-handedly weakened the EU and NATO, leaving most of Europe vulnerable to Russian military advances.  The Baltic states, for example, would be an easy target for Putin, and from there he can proceed into the rest of Eastern Europe (much like Hitler did during World War II).   

5.  Country:  Japan

Issue #1: The Threat of Nuclear Weapons Launched from North Korea

National Security:  Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan warned that North Korea’s threat to launch nuclear weapons upon Japan is the greatest threat to Japan since the end of World War II. Since 1945, Japan has solely depended upon the USA for its national security. In 2017, former American President, Donald Trump, informed the Japanese government that it has to take more responsibility for its national security, and cannot rely solely upon the USA to protect it from other hostile countries. This is a huge shift for Japan to make, as it has a pacifist constitution, preventing it from re-arming.

Missile Attacks:  Since 2017, North Korea has launched the following missiles towards Japan:

  • First missile:  August 29, 2017
  • Second missile:  September 15, 2017 (missile went over Hokkaido Island)
  • Third missile:  late September 2019 (possibly launched from a submarine – landed off Japan’s west coast)
  • Fourth missile:  On April 14, 2020 multiple cruise missiles were fired towards the Sea of Japan

Given the fact that since 2017 North Korea has continued its pattern of aggression towards Japan, the Japanese government may not have any other option but to re-arm its country. North Korea has embarked on a dangerous arms race creating nuclear weapons and threatening to use them against other Asian countries as well as the USA.  In February 2022, Japan’s Defense Minister, Nobuo Kishi, stated that in January 2022, North Korea has resumed its missile testing program.  For example, on January 30, 2022, North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile (which landed off the eastern coast of North Korea).  Japan’s Defense Minister has publicly stated that North Korea continues to threaten the security of Japan as well as other Asian countries.

Security analysts have speculated that either Communist China or Russia has been secretly assisting North Korea with its nuclear weapons program, which would explain how such a poor and backward country like North Korea could suddenly have unlimited funds to develop an expensive and technologically sophisticated nuclear weapons program.

National Defence Options for Japan include:
  • Install American anti-missile systems to destroy any incoming missiles from North Korea
  • Install nuclear weapons to counter any aggression from North Korea or Communist China (a long-term ally of North Korea)
  • Re-build Japan’s army, navy, and air force to be proactive and monitor any outside threat.
Issue #2:  The Threat from Communist China

Threat to National Security:  In 2019, for the first time in Japan’s modern history, Japan has placed communist China as a bigger threat to national security than North Korea.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (i.e. the building of railways, roads, ports, etc.) has been singled out by the Japanese government as a potential threat.  So far more than 130 countries worldwide have either signed agreements with China or expressed an interest in the Initiative.  Critics view such an Initiative as a “debt trap”, especially for emerging countries.  These expensive construction projects can leave a host country with massive unpaid debt, and give the Chinese government influence over the host country’s government (e.g. allow China’s military to set up a military base in that host country).  

Japan is worried that China may use its Belt and Road Initiative to place its army throughout Asia and the rest of the world.  

First Overseas Military Base:  The country of Ethiopia in Africa is a recipient of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and has now allowed China to set up its first overseas military base for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Djibouti.  

Military Spending:  China’s military spending has been increasing for the past 26 years.  For 2019 it was $177 billion US.  By 2021, China allocated $207.3 billion US for its military.  It has expressed the desire to obtain stealth fighter aircraft and aircraft carriers.  The latter would suggest that China has definite imperialist ambitions.  It now has the world’s largest military: over 2 million personnel.  In comparison, for 2021, Japan’s military spending was $47.2 billion US, and there were 247,150 personnel in its military.

 6. Country:  Canada

Issue #1:  How to Handle Canada’s Out-of-Control Debt?

Balanced Budget Promise:  In 2015, newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference and re-iterated his campaign pledge to balance the federal government’s “books” within 4 years.  This promise, he swore, was “very” cast in stone.  The only problem with making such a promise was the fact that he and his fellow liberals had made billions of dollars of campaign promises.  

The Canadian federal government’s budget deficits (on an annual basis) since 2015 are as follows:

  • For Fiscal Year 2015 – 2016 the previous Conservative government had estimated a surplus of $1.4 billion CDN.  This estimate was re-calculated in March 2016 by the new Liberal government to be a deficit of $1 billion CDN.
  • For Fiscal Year 2016 – 2017:  $17.8 billion CDN deficit
  • For Fiscal Year 2017 – 2018:  $19 billion CDN deficit
  • For Fiscal Year 2018 – 2019:  $14 billion CDN deficit
  • For Fiscal Year 2019 – 2020:  $19.8 billion CDN deficit, but then in mid-December 2019 revised to:  $26.6 billion CDN deficit
  • For Fiscal Year 20202021 (due to coronavirus and oil price drop):  a $232 billion CDN deficit
  • For Fiscal Year 2021 – 2022: a $73.7 billion CDN deficit 

Observation:  Ever since Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, he has not kept his promise to balance the federal governments “books”.  Even though Canada’s economy was booming, his government had record high budget deficits every fiscal year.  Canada’s net debt now stands at $942.5 billion CDN (or 42% of Canada’s GDP).  In comparison, in 2019 the net debt was 29.8% of Canada’s GDP.  In 2022, there appears to be no plans on the part of Trudeau or his fellow Liberal M.P.’s to reduce this debt, as a matter of fact, they are not even interested in discussing it.  The federal government blames the covid-19 pandemic for the record high debt, yet Canada’s out-of-control debt issues existed long before the pandemic ever appeared.    

Issue #2:  How to Handle Canada’s Record High Housing Costs?

Even before the covid-19 pandemic, cities such as Toronto and Vancouver were experiencing out-of-control real estate costs.  As the costs of buying a house,  apartment, or commercial business spiral upwards, so do tenant rents for both individuals and businesses.  Real estate speculators have had free rein to do whatever they want with minimal government intervention.  In turn, more and more Canadians are paying a higher percentage of their income towards paying their rent or mortgage.  Homelessness is also becoming a more serious problem in all of Canada’s major cities.  Fewer businesses will be attracted to cities such as Vancouver or Toronto if the cost of doing business is too high: such costs also makes it very difficult to find staff who are willing to transfer to such unaffordable places.  The long-term effect upon Canada’s business sector and individual home buyer sector is not very positive: only the rich will be able to live in those cities.

Statistics detailing Canada’s housing market is as follows:

  • In February 2022, the average home price in Canada was over $816,000, an increase of 20.6% since 2021.  
  • Canada’s central bank, the Bank of Canada, has deliberately kept interest rates to almost zero (0.25%) for the past several years, which has fueled inflation.  In March 2022, the Bank of Canada raised interest rates to 0.50%, which was a fairly insignificant amount, not enough to stop buyers from incurring huge debt loads at current “bargain” interest rates.  Historically, the interest rate has been about 5.8%. Cheap, unrealistic interest rates (set by the government’s central bank) have fueled an explosion in real estate costs against Canada.  Low or stagnant salaries cannot keep up with the huge increase in housing costs. 
  • In January 2022, Canada’s rate of inflation hit 5.1%, the highest level since 1991, and there is no indication that this upward spiral will stop anytime soon.  The annual rate of inflation for the real estate sector, however, is from 20 – 25%. 
  • As housing costs go up, so do rents.  According to Numbeo, in March 2022, the average rent for a basic one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is now $2,140 while the average monthly net salary is $4506 (that is about 50% of one’s income going towards paying rent).  
  • For metro Vancouver, the average home cost for 2022 is now $1.3 million.  When you consider that the “typical” Vancouver salary in 2022 is supposedly about $59,000 (which seems high for Vancouver), one can only wonder how anyone can afford a multi-million dollar mortgage to buy a basic home.  Luxury home prices are so high that they are almost on par with the French Riviera.  To say that the Vancouver (and Canadian) real estate markets are grossly overpriced is an understatement. 
  • Housing costs are so unrealistic that homes outside of metro Vancouver that were selling for 300,000 in 2019 are now selling in 2022 for over 1 million dollars.  Some of these homes are 70 kilometres  (45 miles) away from Vancouver with no public transit available for commuting.  A freeway connects these areas, but it is literally bumper-to-bumper with cars during the rush hour (much like Los Angeles).  People are so desperate for “affordable” housing that they live far away from their work site in an over-priced home or apartment, then have to drive to work spending a fortune on gas and making a 3-hour round-trip from their home to their place of work and back each day.  It’s a horrible life for most commuters!  

Issue #3:  HOW ARE RELATIONS WITH CHINA SPECIFICALLY AFTER THE TWO MICHAELS AFFAIR?  

Trudeau and China:  For the past several years, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has encouraged Canadian businesses to do business with China.  He has even personally led teams of Canadian businessmen to China in order to cement business relationships between Canada and China.

Unlike the American President, Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister has never adhered to a “Made in Canada” stance.  Prime Minister Trudeau is a firm believer in Free Trade and is not concerned that much of Canada’s manufacturing sector (primarily from Quebec and Ontario) has moved overseas.

Not Safe for Business (or Travel):  As reported above in the case study of China, it is no longer safe for western businessmen (and businesswomen) to do business in China.  China’s secret police has started arresting Canadian businessmen for no reason and throwing them in prison (on false charges).  Canadians in particular (and more than likely any foreign nationals) travelling to China as tourists also run the risk of being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.    

Kovrig & Spavor:  Such an event happened to two Canadian businessmen who were in China both conducting routine business. On December 10, 2018, Michael Kovrig was arrested in Beijing and Michael Spavor was arrested in Dandong.  Both were arbitrarily arrested, accused of breaking China’s national security laws (which they denied doing), and thrown in prison where they have had no contact with the outside world until their release about 3 years later (in September 2021).  The arrest of the two Canadian businessmen was intentional.  China was unhappy that Canada was holding Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, who was under house arrest awaiting extradition to the USA for bank fraud charges.  China did a prisoner exchange: they returned the two Michaels to Canada on condition that Canada return Ms. Wanzhou to China.  It was blackmail on the part of the Chinese government, but they got the Canadian federal government to do what they wanted.  Many foreign commentators were horrified, stating that such actions on the part of the Canadian government will now encourage the Chinese authorities to use kidnapping and blackmail as the means to get what they want.  

Observations / Suggestions:

Trudeau’s Response:  When questioned by the press, Prime Minister Trudeau refused to answer what he was doing to obtain the release of these Canadian businessmen.  It would appear that Trudeau did nothing, as he did not want to deal with this “delicate” situation for fear that he would offend the Chinese communist government.  (As Prime Minister, Trudeau has lavished public praise on China’s communist government, even saying how much he admires their efficiency.)  

Arbitrary ArrestForeign Nationals:  These two incidents should make those in the business community (as well as the tourism industry) take notice.  If you enter China even for legitimate reasons, you run the risk of arbitrary arrest.  This can easily happen to anyone regardless of their nationality, i.e. China’s secret police can easily arrest American or German businessmen (or tourists) for no valid reason and imprison them.

Asset Seizures:  Even if you don’t personally visit China, your company’s assets can be seized at any time by the Chinese government or your Chinese-based factory can be ordered to make what the Chinese government wants.  (This has recently happened to those companies making Personal Protection Equipment – PPE.)

Do Business Elsewhere:  It would appear that the two Michaels incident has not harmed Canada’s relationship with China.  Canada wants to continue to do business with China even if China kidnaps Canadian citizens for no valid reason and swaps them for Chinese nationals that are under arrest in Canada.  Your company, however, may want to look elsewhere to do business. China does not have a manufacturing monopoly.  Other countries can easily produce your products for a fair price without the unsafe business conditions, major human rights violations, and disregard for the environment.  Try within Canada itself, or the USA, Europe, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, India, etc.