…and don’t forget Norman Bethune

Today President Hubert asked China’s ambassador to Canada to unblock CBC.ca and radio-canada.ca, which it has been doing for several months at least.

This is a pretty bold move by the president and I applaud him for it. I also wonder how far he’s willing to take this. Would he sacrifice our Olympic broadcasts to make a point on freedom of speech and press in China? Is that even his decision to make?

I reprint his letter here, without his permission. But I get the feeling he won’t mind. Note that the Prime Minister is not cc’d, which implies he already knows and approves.

This is just getting started.


His Excellency Lu Shumin
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Canada
515 St. Patrick Street
P.O. Box 8935
New Terminal, Alta Vista
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 5H3

Your Excellency,

2008 is an important year for the image and reputation of China as a leading member of the international community. All eyes are on China as it prepares to host the world for the Summer Olympics. CBC/Radio-Canada is proud to be a partner in broadcasting the pageantry and excitement of these Games and, as backdrop, the tremendous social and economic strides that China is making to assert its role as a modern, engaged, global leader.

It is with this in mind that I call your attention to a matter of the gravest importance. You are aware, no doubt, that access to the two principal CBC/Radio-Canada websites, Radio-Canada.ca and CBC.ca, has been blocked in China. Our French site has been blocked for at least six months and our English site since January of this year.

As you may be aware, Canadian embassy officials in Beijing have raised this issue with your Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I am writing to request that you make formal and immediate enquiries as to why the sites have been blocked, and that you take steps to ensure that this policy is reversed.

CBC/Radio-Canada has maintained staff and a bureau in China for many years and, as Canada’s public broadcaster, we are committed to freedom of the press. I took note of the remarks of Premier Wen Jiabao when he promised, in April 2007, that in the spirit of One World, One Dream, “the government will provide services of an Olympic standard to athlete, officials, spectators and the media in order to facilitate their participation and enjoyment of the Games. The freedom of foreign journalists in their news coverage will also be ensured.” I understand that, in that spirit, access to the BBC’s website, which had been restricted, has recently been unblocked. This is welcome.

Your Excellency, Canada and China have a long history built on our ability to share our culture with each other. That relationship depends on our ability to communicate. Blocking access to our websites is inconsistent with that history, and with China’s growing place on the world stage. I would appreciate your personal commitment to resolving this problem as quickly as possible and ensuring that access to our programming is restored expeditiously.

Yours sincerely,
Hubert T. Lacroix
President and CEO

Copies to:
Hon. Josée Verner, PC, M.P.
Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages

Hon. Maxime Bernier, PC, M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hon. Bob Rae, PC, MP
Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic

Francine Lalonde, MP
Bloc Foreign Affairs Critic

Paul Dewar, MP

April 5, 10am addendum:
The story was on The National last night.

April 13, 10am addendum:
China unblocks CBC websites


  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 5:57 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    My congrats to Hubert for accomplishing this political feat. Your political skills will be needed at the CBC as our present govt does not fully support this crown corporation. I will say this – your political support on this matter and if successful will be admired by all of your employees as well as all Canadians that enjoy and want the CBC.

  2. Allan
    Posted April 13, 2008 at 9:12 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    China unblocks CBC???
    I’m liking Hubert more and more.
    Any chance of applying his diplomacy to Afghanistan?

  3. Anonymous
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Radio Canada International, a separate DFAIT/DND/Fed sponsored shortwave and satellite service, swaps relays with China to reach India and southeast Asia regions.

    from X-URL: http://www.w4uvh.net/dxlatest.txt
    DX LISTENING DIGEST 8-039, March 30, 2008

    …Another, much more important detail about RCI’s extensive cooperation with China is how this cooperation affects the contents of RCI’s Chinese service, beamed into China via Kimjae and Yamata. I suspect serious self-censorship on RCI’s side, avoiding any topics about China itself. Btw, people outside the shortwave scene find it quite interesting to learn about China’s massive jamming (audio samples of Firedrake are really impressive to them) as well as RFA being banned from using the IBB transmitters in the Philippines, Thailand and Sri
    Lanka. This is really more than just DX stuff (Kai Ludwig, Germany,
    March 30, dxldyg via DX LISTENING DIGEST)

    The swap continued even during the TiAnMen 1989 massacre.

  4. Dwight Williams
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Why would that be, I wonder?

  5. Anonymous
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 9:10 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    If I was a CBC employee going to the Games in China I would be afraid. Very Afraid.

  6. Bill Lee
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 6:40 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    And HNIC is doing the playoffs in Mandarin (Standad, mainland ) Chinese.

    For the first time ever, select games of the Stanley Cup playoffs will be available in Mandarin, live and on demand.

    Wouldn’t want to miss the Sursbergian “Millions!!” of viewers in China for Don Cherry and the Molson pijiu (beer) adverts, would we? Especially now that the Leafs and Canucks, nor Oilers aren’t watching.

    Wait until the new Radio 2 starts playing Jinjiu Chinese opera music all day, and Bollywood movies replace The Hour.

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