Should Canada Boycott China?
Canada’s Parliament will be voting on a motion on whether to boycott the next winter Olympics, which are scheduled to be held in China in 2022. Why? Because the issue of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) repression of minorities, specifically the Uighur people, has become a more publicized issue recently.
The oppression of the Uighur people is not exclusively an issue of religious persecution, because even non-Muslim Uighurs are oppressed, but the fact that most of them are Muslim also seems to be an aggravating factor. For further insight, please consider watching this video.
The plight of the Uighurs in China is truly terrible. Three million have been detained in “re-education centres” which are actually prisons, even referred to as concentration camps. In these places, women are raped, and there are reports that some people have been sold as slaves. “Human rights groups say the Chinese government has gradually stripped away the religious and other freedoms of the Uighurs, culminating in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and even forced sterilisation.… First-hand accounts from inside the internment camps are rare, but several former detainees and a guard have told the BBC they experienced or saw evidence of an organised system of mass rape, sexual abuse and torture.” That is not hard to believe when we consider China’s many other human rights abuses, including its long-time one-child policy that forced the sterilization of women who were not prisoners. What is hard to believe is that the Liberals seem unwilling to actually acknowledge that it is a genocide; “Trudeau has said the word genocide is an “extremely loaded” term and he is not at this point prepared to use it.”
Numerous examples could be given of the CCP abusing its dictatorial powers against the Chinese people, and not only on the grounds of religion or against ethnic minorities such as the Uighurs and Tibetans either. Interference and surveillance in the lives of everyday citizens is a major concern: “During China’s coronavirus outbreak, Xi’s government leaned hard on private companies in possession of sensitive personal data. Any emergency data-sharing arrangements made behind closed doors during the pandemic could become permanent.”
Nor is the CCP’s thirst for data and intelligence limited to its own people in China; they have been known to track their citizens abroad. The global realm of technology and innovation is also the target of espionage by the CCP (through many and varied means, including Huawei). The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CISIS) is thankfully aware of the threat, though the Trudeau administration seems to be willfully blind to the threats that China poses to Canada.
There is no excuse anymore for this willful blindness. The arrest back in 2018 of the “Two Michaels” (Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig) should have taught the Trudeau administration a lesson on how friendly the CCP actually is to Canada. Unfortunately, even while more and more of the world seems to be waking up to the challenges posed by the CCP’s empire-building ambitions, Canada still seems to be bent on appeasement and apologetics for their actions. Perhaps the fact that China is still making payments on its loans has something to do with it; this is actually a small bit of good news on the diplomatic front, but it is far overshadowed by the ongoing detention of the “Two Michaels,” China’s human right’s record, and so much more.
Canada should not unnecessarily strain relations with China or antagonize the country. We are not equipped to pick a fight, nor would one be helpful. But we can’t have a “business as usual” relationship either. Canada should slowly and carefully disentangle itself from the CCP in three areas: 1. Technology, as it relates to security, military, and espionage (and that is not a small segment). 2. Chinese (state) ownership of Canadian resources, especially land. 3. Medical research and development; China’s history of human rights abuses, including involuntary organ harvesting, should cause Canada to distance itself from medical endeavours of the CCP.
That does not mean an absolute boycott of all Chinese trade and relations, but it would set some parameters and re-set our relationship with this rising global superpower.
When we consider the depth of the problems dealing with the CCP presents, the question of boycotting the Olympics is quite small and surface-level. If, however, it actually becomes a small first step in re-thinking the larger question of how we should (and should not) approach our ties with China, it could be helpful.
In closing, let’s not forget that while China’s repression of religious freedoms is well-known and heavy-handed, Canada can no longer portray itself as a shining example of freedom of religion. Bill C-6, once passed, will criminalize Christian pastors who preach biblical truths about sexuality. Other “lesser” examples could be raised; we have some fixing up of our own to do in Canada, but that does not give us license to disregard the horrendous crimes China has committed against humanity.
Does Canada need to stop turning a blind eye to the CCP’s gross abuses of power? Yes. Should we boycott their Olympic Games? Probably. Must Canada speak out against China having a seat on the UN Human Rights Council? Absolutely! But we can’t do these things until we get our own house in order, and for that, we’ll need some changes in our government. Join CHP if you agree.
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Other Commentary by Peter Vogel:
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