Quebec, Aug.19 : Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has said that current Prime Minister Stephen Harper absence from the Beijing Olympic Games has the potential of impacting negatively on future Sino-Canadian ties.
Addressing the Canadian Bar Association here, the Globe and Mail quoted Chretien as saying that such missteps were indicative of a government that naively fails to understand the enormous strides the Chinese regime has made in recent years, and warned that China has a long "collective memory" when it comes to international slights.
"There are always consequences in what you do. If you think that attacking them would be positive, what do you gain? It is the second-biggest economy in the world, and in 50 years, it will be the biggest economy. Suddenly, you break the bridge. It would be so easy to be there [at the Olympics]," he said.
Canadian trade missions once attracted thousands of people.
Chretien told the CBA that the: "Last meeting I went to, there was 300 people, and most of them were Canadian. You know, they have a collective memory there that is very important."
Chretien said Canada has to keep in mind that it is too small a global player to hector the Chinese or try to hurt them with boycotts.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Mr. Chretien continued his fusillade. "We are at the bottom of the ladder in terms of having any influence with China. Ask any businessman who has been to China, and he will tell you the same thing."
The Dalai Lama may be a well-received religious icon in Canada, Chretien said, "but for them (the Chinese), the Dalai Lama is not a religious leader."