China has slammed Canada after a parliamentary committee this week concluded the Chinese government’s policies against the country’s Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang amounts to “genocide”.
The committee on Wednesday called on Ottawa to condemn Beijing’s policies against the Uighurs, which it said included “mass detentions, forced labour, pervasive state surveillance and population control”, and to impose sanctions against all Chinese government officials involved.
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“Witnesses were clear that the Government of China’s actions are a clear attempt to eradicate Uighur culture and religion,” the committee said.
On Thursday, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry rejected the allegations as “groundless” and accused Canada of trying to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.
“The sub-committee of the Canadian parliament neglects the fact of political stability, economic growth, ethnic solidarity and social harmony in Xinjiang,” Zhao Lijian told reporters during a news conference.
“Its groundless statement is full of lies and disinformation. This is blatant interference in China’s internal affairs and reflects those Canadian individuals’ ignorance and prejudice. China firmly deplores and rejects that,” the spokesman said.
Relations between China and Canada deteriorated in December 2018 when Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on an extradition request by the United States, where she is wanted on fraud charges.
Two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – were arrested in China soon thereafter and accused of spying.
Earlier this month, Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan described the continuing detention of Kovrig and Spavor as “hostage diplomacy”.
“This type of hostage diplomacy is not what good rules-based-order nations do,” Sajjan said on October 7, as reported by The Canadian Press.
A war-of-words between the two countries has steadily worsened in recent months, as Canadian officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have criticised China’s human rights record as it relates to the Uighurs, as well as protesters in Hong Kong, among other things.
Those critiques have drawn the ire of Beijing, which says Ottawa is meddling in its internal affairs.
Last week, China also dismissed a report in The Economist that characterised its policies in Xinjiang, where most of the country’s Muslim Uighur population lives, as a crime against humanity.
Activists say China has implemented a mass detention policy, imprisoning about one million Uighurs and other Turkic people in so-called “re-education” camps.