POSTED MAR 27, 2021 11:46 AM EDT
A Canadian MP calls sanctions against him by the Chinese government for speaking out against abuses towards Uyghur Muslims a “badge of honour” that he will gladly wear.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said Saturday in a news release it has banned Michael Chong from entering the country and prohibited any Chinese citizen from doing business with him.
China said it has also imposed sanctions against a Parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights.
“The Chinese government is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and urges the relevant parties to clearly understand the situation and redress their mistakes,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
Chong, the Tories’ foreign affairs critic, said today on Twitter he has a duty to call out China’s “genocide” of Uyghur Muslims and that the sanctions prove that international pressure is working.
“The fact that China is sanctioning MPs, both in Canada and elsewhere for speaking up and criticizing this contravention of international law is telling,” Chong tells CityNews.
“China is attempting to silence its critics, both in China and abroad and I won’t be silenced. I will continue to speak up on this issue to ensure that the voice of the voiceless is being heard. …We have a responsibility to speak up in defence of human rights. Canada is based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law and we have to uphold those principles both here at home and abroad.”
The sanctions come after Canada joined other countries on Monday in imposing sanctions against four Chinese officials and a Chinese entity over human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang region.
Global Affairs Canada said mounting evidence points to state-led abuses by Chinese authorities against more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. The department said the abuses include “political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday the sanctions were imposed on China over “the gross and systematic human rights abuses taking place in the region.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Mac Garneau called the sanctions against Chong “unacceptable” and “an attack on transparency and freedom of expression.”
“The Government of Canada stands with parliamentarians and all Canadians as we continue to work with partners in defence of democracy and freedom of speech and will continue to take action when international human rights obligations are violated,” Garneau said in a statement. “We need to stand together to remind those who violate human and democratic rights that the world is watching.”
Mehmet Tohti, Executive Director of Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, says while the Chinese sanctions were expected, it is up to Canada to continue applying pressure on China.
“That is what we have been advocating for. Especially since the abduction of the ‘two Michaels’, (Canada’s) approach has been try to be nice with China and one day China will get impressed from our good behaviour and release the ‘two Michaels.’ Clearly that hasn’t worked and so we have to uphold our values and we have to stand on our principles to put more pressure on China …and change the behaviour of the Chinese government. ”
Chong says one of the steps Canada could take immediately is to introduce stronger and new measures to ban the importation of goods made using forced labour, specifically the importation of cotton and tomatoes.
China also said Saturday it imposed sanctions against the chair and vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms.