Adam Zivo: Revulsion at Uyghur forced labor and fate of tennis star spur boycott of Beijing Olympics


“If the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed for a pandemic, the Beijing Olympics could be postponed for a genocide”

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China is arming its vast and lucrative market to silence critics protesting Beijing’s appalling human rights record. Canada has been particularly gentle in dealing with China for fear of punitive tariffs, but trade is a two-way street and China may finally face the consequences of its actions.

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Responding to growing concerns about genocide and forced labor, Conservative Senator Leo Housakos on Wednesday introduced a bill banning all imports from China’s Xinjiang Province. Xinjiang, also known as East Turkestan, is the homeland of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group that China is eradicating through concentration camps, torture and mass surveillance. China has recently started using Uyghurs as slaves to produce exports for the international market.

In a telephone interview, Housakos said, “I hope my bill is the first clear and unequivocal message from a G7 country that says we will no longer tolerate gross human rights violations in China. We will use the leverage we have, which is access to our rich consumer markets. Canada’s current legislation banning goods produced by slave labor is ineffective, a sentiment shared by MPs from all political parties.

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Along with that, Bloc Québécois MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe approved a motion at the Uyghur World Congress in Prague last week that called for the Beijing Olympics to be canceled, relocated or postponed until the genocide is resolved. .

Brunelle-Duceppe intends to introduce a bill in December that will ask Canada to make those demands as well, noting that his parliamentary contacts in the US and UK have exerted similar pressure in their respective countries. “If the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed for a pandemic, the Beijing Olympics can be postponed for genocide,” he said in an interview.

Momentum to boycott the Olympics has intensified since Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai disappeared after accusing a former high-ranking Communist Party politician of sexual coercion. While it’s depressing that genocide has elicited less reaction than a tennis star, at least Peng’s disappearance makes people pay attention to human rights abuses in China.

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Between these developments and the Liberals’ recent opening to boycott the Olympics, it looks like China may finally face some responsibility for its behavior. Analysts have also argued that the Liberal government may, based on its recent Speech from the Throne, finally start working with allies to counter China’s growing influence.

It’s a welcome but long overdue development, given that Trudeau and most of his cabinet even refused to acknowledge the existence of the Uyghur genocide in a parliamentary vote last February.

It is sad, however, that much of the burden of opposing an obvious and blatant injustice has fallen on the shoulders of opposition politicians – but this is what happens when a government prioritizes to the aesthetics of social justice rather than real advocacy. Perhaps the Uyghurs would find more support if Trudeau could find a way to be photographed crying on their bones.

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  1. Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Taiwanese protest outside the White House in Washington, DC on November 14, 2021, urging US President Joe Biden to support human rights, ahead of his virtual summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

    Adam Zivo: Conservative bill aims to stop “subsidizing genocide” in China

  2. Nothing

    NP View: Don’t turn a blind eye to China’s atrocities, Mr. Trudeau – boycott the 2022 Olympics

The Trudeau government’s passivity in the face of genocide is not only morally contemptible, it is also legally questionable.

Sarah Teich, international human rights lawyer and legal counsel for the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project (URAP), said: “Canada has ratified several treaties that impose international legal obligations to suppress and eliminate forced labor. Canada is also a state party to the United Nations Genocide Convention, which means that it has an obligation not only not to commit genocide, but also to prevent genocide.

When it comes to defending the Uyghurs, Teich says, “This is not something right that we should be doing; it’s something we have to do.

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Mehmet Tohti, executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, is relieved to see concrete actions that could help his people. Tohti has been defending the rights of Uyghurs for two decades (for context, Chinese colonial repression in East Turkestan dates back to the 1700s). He notes that interest in the plight of the Uyghurs increased when news of the genocide emerged in 2017.

Since then, he has encouraged parliamentarians to understand the crisis by making them listen to witnesses, experts and testimonies from survivors. Although awareness of the genocide has increased over time, Tohti says he is fed up with verbal expressions of concern and argues that awareness must be followed by action. “The Canadian government has taken no serious steps to address or meet its international legal obligations,” Tohti said.

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Housakos, whose bill will hopefully counteract Uyghur forced labor, agrees that Canada must provide a substantive, rather than symbolic, response to the genocide. “It’s okay to exert diplomatic pressure and implement boycotts, which obviously punishes Beijing, but we all know that the number one thing that is important to this regime is money,” he said. -he declares.

The senator’s approach to China creatively overturns the status quo. Typically, China uses threats of economic retaliation to punish countries that disobey it, as the underlying assumption is that no one wants to be cut off from the world’s second largest economy. However, Housakos notes that China has as much, if not more, to lose by alienating the wealthy markets that boost its export-based economy.

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This reinterpretation of trade policy is obviously achievable. For example, after Australia consistently opposed China’s belligerent foreign policy, China retaliated with punitive export restrictions that cost the Australian economy billions of dollars. Australia simply absorbed the cost, losing just 0.5 percent of its GDP.

Although Australia has resisted coercion from China, it has not been able to significantly punish China for its misconduct, aside from the incident being very embarrassing for Beijing. Yet it has shown that when it comes to trade policy, the conflict with China is not as one-sided as many once thought.

While Canada cannot impose significant costs on China on its own, it can signal to other countries that targeted trade restrictions are possible and useful. If enough countries come together to cut East Turkestan’s exports, withering the market for Uyghur slave goods, that, coupled with the boycott of the Olympics, could finally send a message to China that ethnic cleansing has consequences.

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