Canadian reporter berated by China's foreign minister speaks out
Published Thursday, June 2, 2016 1:11PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 2, 2016 4:41PM EDT
A Canadian reporter who was scolded by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi for raising the issue of human rights during a press conference in Ottawa says she “absolutely” stands by her question.
Amanda Connolly from the online outlet iPolitics asked about China’s questionable human rights record, expanding territorial claims, and the case of a Canadian man held in prison for allegedly spying and stealing Chinese state secrets.
Her question was addressed to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion during a joint press conference with Wangon Wednesday.
“Please don’t ask questions in such an irresponsible manner,” Wang told Connelly through a translator. “I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable.”
Wang then went on to berate the journalist.
“I have to ask whether you understand China,” he said. “Have you been to China? Do you know that China has lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty? Do you know that China is now the second largest economy in the world, (built up) from a very low foundation? Do you think development is possible for China without the protection of human rights?”
Connolly told CTV News Channel on Thursday that she stands by her question.
“This is an important issue, human rights, particularly when it comes to discussing how we are going to engage in China,” she said.
Connolly said there are “a lot of questions” about the Chinese government’s handling of journalists, dissidents and critics.
Dion did not interject as Wang scolded the reporter. Connolly said she’s a “little bit split” on that issue.
“I kind of go back and forth over that question,” she said, noting that Canadian officials have to be diplomatic while engaging foreign leaders and dignitaries who are visiting Ottawa.
“There’s a lot of things to consider on that,” she said.
The Conservative foreign affairs critic, Tony Clement, is calling on Dion and the Liberal government to formally respond to the incident and “make it clear that Canadians believe in human rights and journalistic freedoms.”
Clement told CTV News Channel on Thursday that he was “absolutely shocked and outraged” by Wang’s scolding of Connolly.
“To have a foreign minister invited onto our soil to publicly berate a journalist who asked a perfectly legitimate question is absolutely unacceptable,” Clement said.