Canada’s Parliament adopted a non-binding motion on Monday that equates China’s treatment of its Uighur minority with “genocide”, a decision that Beijing called a “malicious provocation”.
The motion, presented at the initiative of the Conservatives (opposition), was adopted in the House of Commons by 266 votes in favor (out of 338), and no votes against. The approved text also asks the government of Justin Trudeau to make this decision official. Cabinet ministers were practically the only ones who abstained from voting.
The text recognizes that “Uighurs in China have been and are subject to genocide.”
“Conservatives call on the liberal government to respect Parliament and officially recognize that genocide is taking place in China“Said its leader, Erin O’Toole, who for months has demanded the Canadian government to toughen its stance against Beijing.
“The Government of Canada takes any allegation of genocide very seriously,” Foreign Minister Marc Garneau responded, recalling that Canada prefers a common approach with its allies on this issue.
Trudeau admitted on Friday that “massive human rights violations have been reported in Xinjiang.” The prime minister specified at the end of a G7 meeting that Canada was consulting with its partners in the international community on the use of the term “genocide”, already used by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
A senior government official said that declaring something in Parliament is not going to get adequate results in China and that it is necessary to work with international allies and partners. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Liberal Foreign Minister Marc Garneau abstained like the rest of the Cabinet. He said in a statement that there should be a credible international investigation in response to the genocide allegations. “We remain deeply disturbed by the horrific reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labor, torture and forced sterilization,” Garneau said.
For its part, the Chinese embassy in Canada issued a statement calling the motion a “shameful act”, calling Canadian lawmakers “hypocrites and scoundrels” for using “the excuse of human rights to engage in political manipulation in Xinjiang to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
Canadian deputies point to the “political and anti-religious indoctrination”, “forced labor” and the “destruction of cultural sites” suffered by this Muslim minority in Xinjiang.
According to foreign experts, more than a million Uyghurs are detained in political re-education camps. Beijing denies this and claims that they are vocational training centers designed to distance them from terrorism and separatism. The Chinese authorities attribute several attacks to members of this minority.
Relations between Canada and China are going through an unprecedented crisis since the arrest in late 2018 of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and his compatriot Michael Spavor, accused of espionage.
These arrests came a few days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. The financial director of the Chinese giant was arrested at the request of the US justice accused of bank fraud.
(With information from EFE and AP)