“Other Diplomacies” of Non-State Actors:
The Case of Canadian-Asian Relations

A Special Issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 11(4)(2016)
Editors: Susan J. Henders and Mary M. Young


“Other Diplomacies” of Non-State Actors: The Case of Canadian-Asian Relations
Susan J. Henders and Mary M. Young

This special issue advances understanding of non-state actor diplomacies and expands conceptual tools for studying them. Using Beier and Wylie’s ‘other diplomacies’ concept as developed by Young and Henders, the articles identify non-state actor practices with a diplomatic character and analyse their significance for Canadian-Asian relations from the late 18th century to today. With its practices-based, interpretive approach to non-state diplomacies, an other diplomacies framework specifies the actions that give rise to diplomatic agency and the centrality of meaning-making to diplomacies regardless of the actor involved. Examples from history reveal Canadian-Asian interactions as a rich site for analysing other diplomacies and demonstrate that studying Canadian-Asian relations contributes to the fields of diplomatic history and non-state diplomacy as well as illuminating the connections between diplomacies and world orders.

“Other Diplomacies” and World Order: Historical Insights from Canadian–Asian Relations
Mary M. Young and Susan J. Henders

This article examines the diplomatic practices of non-state actors in the history of Canadian–Eastern Asian relations in order to theorize and show empirically how diplomacies make and can transform world orders. Analysing examples of trans-Pacific missionary, commercial and labour interactions from the late eighteenth century to the Second World War, the article points to how the diplomatic practices of non-state actors, often in everyday circumstances, enacted Canadian–Asian relations. They, in turn, constituted and challenged the hierarchical social relations of the European imperial world order that was linked with race, class, gender, civilization and culture — hierarchies that conditioned patterns of thought and action, in that order. The analysis uses and further develops the concept of ‘other diplomacies’, as introduced by Beier and Wylie, using it to highlight the centrality to world orders of practices that have a diplomatic character, even when the actors involved do not represent states.

Other Diplomacy” in Paradiplomacy: Quebec’s Cinema and China
Serge Granger

China has had an important impact on the political mobilization of other forms of diplomacy in the Canadian province of Quebec. Quebec’s missionaries and Maoists have used cinema for propaganda purposes aimed at forging political opinions towards China. Quebec’s modest non-state actor (NSA) — the Quebec cinema lobby — has developed expertise and links with other institutions or actors — both non-state and state — and has had an impact on international relations. Quebec’s cinema is an important lobby participating in a coalition of NSAs that triggered and monitors the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. This article examines how Quebec’s cinema lobby has evolved, whether it has tried to influence Canadian government policies towards China and, more broadly, asks what the experience of Quebec filmmakers as non-state diplomatic actors suggests about the ways in which ‘other diplomacy’ can influence international relations.

Diplomacy as Self-Representation: British Columbia’s First Nations and China
Jean Michel Montsion

China’s recent interest and substantial investments in Canada’s natural resource sector have led some First Nations in British Columbia to undertake diplomatic activities to represent their interests to Chinese officials and investors. This article explores the interplay developing between the diplomatic activities of British Columbia’s First Nations and those of the Canadian state in the area of natural resource promotion. It does so by examining the diplomatic efforts of British Columbia’s First Nations Energy and Mining Council and the Canadian government’s Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China. The article argues that this interplay represents a struggle over diplomatic representation, in which British Columbia’s First Nations challenge the Canadian state’s monopoly on the representation of indigenous interests abroad, whereas the Canadian state constantly reframes indigenous perspectives on international affairs as a matter of domestic jurisdiction, in order to re-ground its control over Canadian foreign diplomatic practices.

Reflections on the Role of Non-State Actors in Canada–Asia Relations
Randolph Mank

The historical tension between the powers of states and the rights of individuals sets the context for this look at the evolving role of non-state actors in international relations. Global connectivity has diluted state power, blurred borders and added a new dimension of non-state actor empowerment. The author’s firsthand observations, drawn from a career as a Canadian diplomat, bear witness to the ever-increasing role of non-state actors in foreign policy and international relations. This practitioner’s perspective presents some personal observations on how non-state actors have helped to shape Canada–Asia relations, with brief and selective examples from the author’s work in and on Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The piece also offers some concluding thoughts on the significance of this phenomenon for the broader conduct of international relations and the study of foreign policy.

Author Bios

Serge Granger is Adjunct Professor at the School of Applied Politics at Sherbrooke University in Canada, where he teaches Sino–Indian Relations. He published Le lys et le Lotus: les relations du Quebec avec la Chine, 1650–1950 (The Lily and the Lotus: Quebec’s Relations with China, 1650–1950) and co-authored L’Inde et ses avatars: pluralites d’une puissance (India and its Avatars: Pluralities of a Power). He has been Visiting Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Visiting Scholar at the University of Pune and the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India. He is currently working on a book on Quebec–India relations. 

Susan Henders is Associate Professor of Political Science at York University and a Faculty Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research in Toronto, Canada. Her fields of research include the international and domestic politics of minority rights and of minority territorial autonomy arrangements; international human rights; and non-state and sub-state actors in global politics, focusing on Eastern Asia, Western Europe and Canada. She holds an M.Phil. from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a D.Phil. from St Antony’s College, Oxford. Her recent books include the monograph Territoriality, Asymmetry, and Autonomy: Catalonia, Corsica, Hong Kong, and Tibet (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); and (co-edited with Lily Cho) Human Rights and the Arts: Perspectives from Global Asia (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014).

Randolph Mank is a former Canadian ambassador to Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia, and also served in Japan, Sweden and Greece during his Canadian foreign service career. In the private sector, he has been Vice-President, Asia, for BlackBerry in Singapore and President, Asia, of SICPA Holdings of Switzerland, based in Malaysia. He is currently a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a Board Director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. He founded MankAsia consulting in 2014.

Jean Michel Montsion is an Associate Professor of International Studies at Glendon College, York University, in Toronto, Canada. His research is found at the intersection of ethnicity, international mobility and transnationalism. He has published in Citizenship Studies, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Geoforum.

Mary Young is a Research Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research at York University in Toronto, Canada. She specializes in politicaleconomy, political ecology, international development and Canadian– Asian relations, with particular interests in Indonesia and Taiwan. She has published on agro-food systems, the environment, diplomacy, development, human rights and aid and is currently co-authoring a book on ‘green’ markets and organic agriculture in Asia. Her ongoing research also concerns food and financial crises, economic security and development aid, and Canadian–Asian societal diplomatic relations.