Canada’s House of Commons passed a non-binding motion on Monday, recognising China’s Uyghur minority’s brutal treatment under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a violation of the United Nations’ 1948 Genocide Convention.
All opposition parties and some Liberal MPs voted in favour of the motion proposed by the opposition Conservative Party, with a result of 266 to zero. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet chose to abstain from the parliamentary meeting. Like US President Joe Biden, Mr Trudeau has shown reluctance in condemning the CCP’s treatment of the Uyghur people. Mr Trudeau stated the issue needed further study and investigation by entities such as the United Nations.
This vote makes Canada the second country in the world to declare the CCP’s atrocities against the Uyghur people as genocide. The first country to recognise this genocide was the United States under the Trump administration. The now-former Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo wrote the following statement on February 19, 2021, to condemn the CCP’s actions:
“I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. I believe this genocide is ongoing and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
The crimes Pompeo outlined included imprisonment, forced sterilisation, torture, forced labour, and the severe violation of Uyghur civilians’ rights to freedom of religion or belief, expression and movement.
However, Canada’s House of Commons also voted 229 to 29 to adopt a Bloc Québécois amendment calling for the removal of Beijing as the 2022 Winter Olympics host country if the CCP continues its genocide against the Uyghur people. The Conservative Party is also pushing for Canada to impose trade restrictions with China, such as prohibiting imports from China’s Xinjiang province. These products are likely to be the result of forced Uyghur labour.
These parliamentary moves are likely to strain the already tense diplomatic relations between China and Canada. Canada’s Chinese embassy released a statement on Monday condemning the parliamentary action as anti-Chinese while citing supposedly positive statistics on Xinjiang’s growing economy and life expectancy.
A Canadian government official confirmed there would be no action on the genocide motion until the Canadian government gained support from the United States and other Western democracies.
In the UK, similar discussions regarding the CCP’s genocide of the Uyghur people are taking place. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is eager to strengthen British trade connections with Beijing. Simultaneously, British Conservative MP Dominic Raab has condemned the CCP’s treatment of Uyghur civilians. British MPs have also recently called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
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