Canada passes motion saying China's treatment of Uighurs is genocide
February 25, 2021
Asia

Canada’s parliament approves motion saying treatment of Uighurs by China is genocide

OTTAWA (CANADA) – Canada’s parliament passed a non-binding motion on Monday, adding that China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region amounts to genocide, thereby putting pressure on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to toe the line.

Canada’s House of Commons voted 266-0 for the motion brought by the opposition Conservative Party. Trudeau and his Cabinet stayed away from casting the vote, although Liberal backbenchers gave their backing widely.

Changes were made to the motion just before the vote to urge the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if the treatment remains the same.

Trudeau’s Conservative rivals have been pressuring him for taking a tougher stance, with regard to China.

China has been widely receiving criticism for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to evade extremism and foster people with new skills. Others have called them concentration camps. Beijing dismisses accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Citing testimony, documents and media reports of human rights abuses against Uighurs, Conservative lawmaker Michael Chong said: “We can no longer ignore this. We must call it for what it is — a genocide.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday the motion “disregards facts and common sense”, adding that Beijing had “lodged stern representations” with Canada.

Cong Peiwu, the Chinese ambassador to Ottawa, denied accusations of genocide.

Cong said in an interview before the vote. “There is no so-called genocide in Xinjiang at all. Western countries are in no position to say what the human rights situation in China looks like.”

Trudeau has hesitated to use the word genocide, implying that aiming for a broad consensus among Western allies on Chinese human rights issues would make for the best approach.

Trudeau said on Friday after speaking to fellow G7 leaders, “Moving forward multilaterally will be the best way to demonstrate the solidarity of Western democracies … that are extremely concerned and dismayed by reports of what’s going on in Xinjiang.”

A government source said that Trudeau and US President Joe Biden will hold a virtual bilateral meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and relations with China are expected to be discussed

Former US President Donald Trump, on his last full day in office last month, said China had committed “genocide and crimes against humanity” by trying to repress Uighur Muslims.

According to his pick to be ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the Biden administration is trying to ensure that the genocide declaration is upheld.

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