By: Terry Haig
China is severely criticizing Canada for joining 57 other countries in endorsing a declaration denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign citizens for political purposes.
The Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations “aims to protect citizens of all countries who live, work and travel abroad.”.
Canada led the initiative–released on Monday–to denounce the practice of arbitrary arrests, but Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau refused to link it to China’s detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were arrested in Dec. 2018 shortly after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.
Garneau called Monday’s initiative “country-agnostic.”
Beijing, evidently, didn’t see it the same way.
Today, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying again called for Meng’s immediate release and told reporters Beijing has complained to Ottawa over the declaration, calling it a “despicable and hypocritical act.”
“Canada colluded with some countries to issue a so-called declaration against arbitrary detention, and deliberately let the relevant people slander China’s arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” Hua said at a daily briefing.
“Canada’s so-called declaration looks more like a confession in which the Canadian side admits its mistake in the Meng Wanzhou case,” Hua said.
“On the one hand, the Canadian side advocates that it adheres to the rule of law, but on the other hand, it acts as an accomplice of the U.S. and arbitrarily detains Chinese citizens.”
The harsh words and the declaration come as relations between China and Western democracies over tense economic relations, violent crackdowns in Hong Kong and persecution of China’s Uighur Muslim minority continue to deteriorate.
As relations sour, anti-China sentiment appears to be growing–or at least percolating–in Canada.
The Official Opposition Conservative Party was expected to table a motion in the House of Commons today to declare crimes against the Uighurs a genocide.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said while the government condemns China’s actions, using the term “genocide” requires caution and international agreement.
On Tuesday, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole called on Trudeau to push the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Games out of China because of the treatment of the Uighurs.
That followed a similar call a week before by Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.
The previous Saturday, 13 MPs from all five major federal parties released a letter urging the IOC to move the 2022 Games because of the treatment of the Uighurs.
Beijing has denied charges of mistreatment, saying it is running a voluntary employment and language-training program for the Uighurs.
In October, a Canadian parliamentary subcommittee issued a report that concluded that China’s treatment of the Uighurs meets the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Earlier this month, a coalition of 180 rights groups representing Tibetans, Uighurs, Inner Mongolians, Hong Kong residents and others signed an open letter calling for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Games.
But Canadian Dick Pound–the longest serving member of the IOC–said barring athletes from participating in the event would be “a gesture that we know will have no impact whatsoever.”
“The Games are not Chinese Games, the Games are the IOC Games,” he told the BBC.
“The decision on hosting is not made with a view to signaling approval of a government policy.”
With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press (Stephanie Levitz, Mike Blanchfield), The Associated Press, Reuters, RCI
By: Terry Haig