Canada Labels China's Treatment of Uyghurs as Genocide

On February 22, 2021, Canada’s House of Commons labeled the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) treatment of its Uyghur minority as genocide. Despite some pushback and abstentions from the sitting government, the motion unanimously. The PRC's ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, made his disdain for the action clear in Canada's press, "We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to facts. There's nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all."


Background


Beijing has long seen the preservation of internal order in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region as key to its overall success. As such, it has devoted an immense amount of time and resources to squashing groups that may interfere with or go against the goals of the state. In May of 2014, the world watched in silence as Beijing used threats of terrorism as a pretext to mercilessly crackdown on members of minority communities in the region. It is believed that as many as 900,000 Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other minorities have been sent to 're-education camps' since the start of the de-facto anti-minority campaign.


These supposed places of learning offer no education to minorities, only pain and despair. Inmates are regularly forced by the Communist Party of China (CPC) via the People's Armed Police (PAP) to undergo relentless political indoctrination, torture, and repeated periods of food deprivation. Acts of sexual assault and abuse are commonly reported, while deaths of the infirm, elderly, and outspoken are regular occurrences. Lastly, and perhaps most hurtful to these minorities, is the outright denial of religious and cultural freedom by the government in Beijing



Assessment

The Intelligence Ledger assesses that this step will have major consequences for Dominion of Canada. The People's Republic of China has not shied away from utilizing geoeconomic coercion and arbitrary detentions as ways of punishing states that do not submit to its will.


In 2010, for example, Japanese officials confiscated a Chinese fishing trawler after it collided with two Japanese coast guard vessels during a fishing trip near the disputed Senkaku islands. After the Japanese government refused to release the vessel, China halted all rare earth mineral exports to Japan. There was little the government in Tokyo could do to counter this blatant use of economic coercion, for at the time, China produced 93% of the world’s rare earth minerals, and essentially had a monopoly on production. In 2012, after Philippine naval assets confronted Chinese fishing boats in a disputed sector of the South China Sea, hundreds of containers of Filipino bananas were left to rot after they were halted by Chinese customs officials for failure to meet Chinese health standards. Lastly, when South Korea activated a new missile defense platform over Chinese objections in 2016, a South Korean supermarket corporation saw 74 of its 112 locations inside China closed for several days due to supposed fire safety violations.


Thus, it can be expected that Beijing will behave similarly in this situation, although what sector it will target remains to be seen.

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The views expressed by this service are solely its own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or United States government.

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