Canada-China relations frayed over Uighur treatment: Report

The Business Development Bank, a federal entity, hired advisors with the Canada-China Business Council in 2018 for tips on doing business with China.

Bank officials did not say if the training — which cost $3,720 — included advice on avoiding arrest, according toBlacklock’s Reporter.

Seminars for staff at the bank’s Montreal office offered “training on Chinese business context and practices,” around the same time as Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadian consultants working in Beijing, were arrested there.

The men were charged with espionage in what is widely regarded as payback for the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Huawei Technologies Co. She is wanted in the U.S. on bank fraud charges.

In November, former Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, told the Special Commons Committee on Canada-China Relations that he felt there was no question the Canadians’ arrests were retaliatory. However, he could not confirm that this had ever been acknowledged in his presence by Chinese authorities.

Certainly, the arrests seem have contributed to some companies, “re-examining China’s role in their global strategy,” according to a 2020 Business Impact Survey undertaken by the Canada-China Business Council. Survey results said 38% of Canadian companies thinking about doing business in China were feeling less positive about it, as companies were unsure “how to navigate the new environment and plan for the future.”

China’s foreign ministry was not happy with Canada after a House of Commons subcommittee reported that the treatment of Uighurs, a Muslim minority, was genocide. The Uighur people have been kept in camps and subjected to forced labour, rape and population control, according to the committee, all aimed at eradicating, “their culture and religion.”