'Disregards facts and common sense': China decries Canada's motion saying its treatment of Uighurs is 'genocide'

WION Web Team
Beijing, China Published: Feb 23, 2021, 05.44 PM(IST)

Jinping and Trudeau Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Canada's House of Commons on Monday voted 266-0 for the non-binding motion brought by the opposition Conservative Party

China on Tuesday decried a motion by Canada's parliament saying its treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region constitutes genocide.

Canada's House of Commons on Monday voted 266-0 for the non-binding motion brought by the opposition Conservative Party.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet abstained from the vote, although Liberal backbenchers widely backed it.

Also read: Canada Parliament describes treatment of Uighur Muslims in China as 'genocide'

The motion was also amended just before the vote to call on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if the treatment continues.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing that the motion "disregards facts and common sense", adding that Beijing had "lodged stern representations" with Canada.

This comes after Donald Trump's outgoing administration last month said Beijing's incarceration of mostly Muslim minorities in its far-western Xinjiang region amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity.

"It's a word that is extremely loaded and is certainly something that we should be looking at in the case of the Uighurs," Trudeau told a news conference. 

"I know the international community is looking very carefully at that and we are certainly among them, and we will not hesitate from being part of the determinations around these sorts of things."

He said there was "no question" there had been significant human rights abuses reported coming out of Xinjiang.

"We are extremely concerned about that and have highlighted our concerns many times. But when it comes to the application of the very specific word 'genocide,' we simply need to ensure that all the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed in the processes before a determination like that is made," Trudeau added.

Rights groups say at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang. 

Independent access to the sensitive area is highly restricted, making reporting and verification of the allegations near impossible.

But witnesses and activists say China is seeking to forcibly integrate the Uighurs into the majority Han culture by eradicating Islamic customs, including by forcing Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol -- both forbidden by their faith -- while imposing a regime of effective forced labour.

In January, then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said: "We are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state."

His successor, Antony Blinken, has said he agreed with the label, and vowed to stay tough on China.

China has denied wrongdoing and contends that its camps are vocational training centers meant to reduce the allure of Islamic extremism in the wake of attacks.

Canada-China relations soured in late 2018 over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, and China's detention of two Canadians -- former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor -- in what Ottawa has called retaliation.

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