Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Canada's parliament declares China's persecution of Uyghurs "genocide"

Uyghur activists protest China's treatment of Uyghurs outside the house of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou
Uyghur activists protest China's treatment of the Uyghurs in Vancouver, British Columbia in January 2020. Photo: Mert Alper Dervis/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Canada's House of Commons on Monday voted 266-0 to recognize China's documented campaign of mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang as a "genocide."

Why it matters: The vote will likely put pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to get tougher on China. Trudeau and most members of his Cabinet abstained from Monday's vote.

  • The non-binding motion also calls on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing if China does not stop its persecution of the Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups.

The big picture: Trudeau has been reluctant to use the word genocide, calling it a loaded term and "suggesting that seeking broad consensus among Western allies on Chinese human rights issues would be the best approach," according to Reuters.

What they're saying: "Western countries are in no position to say what the human rights situation in China looks like," Cong Peiwu, the Chinese ambassador to Ottawa, told Reuters ahead of the vote. "There is no so-called genocide in Xinjiang at all."

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