Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault concluded his China trip on Aug. 31 without making any public comments on what had transpired from it. Chinese state media also did not report on his input.
Mr. Guilbeault left for China on Aug. 26 to attend the annual meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), taking place from Aug. 28 to 30.
The minister told media before the trip it could be an opportunity to rebuild diplomatic ties with Beijing, which have been strained since the Meng Wangzhou affair in late 2018.
According to a tentative schedule provided by the CCICED, he was expected to deliver remarks on Aug. 28. The speech does not appear to have been publicly broadcast.
Mr. Guilbeault has not commented during the trip and his office did not return a request for comment, nor a request to obtain his delivered remarks or those of high-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials attending the forum.
On platform X, previously known as Twitter, the minister did not personally comment on the forum, but reposted favourable media coverage of the trip. He also shared posts from his colleague Inger Andersen, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, who like Mr. Guilbeaut is a vice-chairperson of the CCICED.
By virtue of being the largest international donor to the CCICED, Canada gets to appoint an executive vice-chairperson. Canada provides $1.6 million a year to the environmental body it helped establish in 1992, but it is run by and works for the Chinese regime.
CCP mouthpieces did not report anything about Mr. Guilbeault’s participation at the forum, save for one brief article by Xinhua News Agency written on Aug. 26, before the forum took place.
China Daily wrote 11 articles related to the CCICED’s annual meeting, which quoted various participants, including Westerners and Chinese members, but Mr. Guilbeault was not quoted in any of them.
By contrast, Ms. Andersen was quoted in two articles. Vice Chairperson Kristin Halvorsen, a former Norwegian minister, was also cited in two articles.
The vast majority of the CCICED executive committee received coverage from China Daily, including Achim Steiner, Xie Zhenhua, Zhao Yingmin, Liu Shijin, Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, and Ding Xuexiang, China’s vice-premier and CCP politburo member.
Mr. Ding serves as the CCICED’s chairperson, whereas Mr. Huang is an executive vice chair, like Mr. Guilbeault.
In remarks delivered at the annual meeting, Mr. Ding reportedly said that the regime wants to give the CCICED a “bigger role,” according to China Daily.
“Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, China will accelerate the advancement of modernization featuring harmony between humanity and nature,” wrote the China Daily in paraphrasing Mr. Ding.
Mr. Guilbeault’s office has called the CCICED an “independent international forum.” It is chaired by a top CCP member, is supervised by the Chinese Ministry of Environment, and supports the national five-year plans.
China Daily also covered Ms. Andersen’s praise of the regime for hosting the forum, saying how impressive it is that China welcomes outsiders to hear suggestions on the environment.
“I know of no other country that has both the self-confidence as well as the humility to do this. It says much about China’s determination to move forward smartly, to move forward sustainably, and to consider all possible options before deciding the best way forward,” she reportedly said.
World Economic Forum (WEF) President Borge Brende was also in attendance and is quoted by China Daily as saying that the theme of the meeting “could not be more timely.”
The CCICED ran the meeting under the title “Green Transition for High-Quality Development Modernization