Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says China has to address the world’s concerns about the treatment of Uyghurs living in the Xinjiang region.
“We have always been very, very strong in our defence of human rights and… highlighting our concerns for what’s going on in Xinjiang,” Trudeau said during a United Nations press conference on Monday.
Over the weekend, China hit multiple Canadian and American politicians with sanctions in apparent retaliation.
Trudeau said the sanctions against China were aimed at making the point that the world’s “concerns about what’s going on (in Xinjiang) are significant and need to be responded to by the Chinese government.”
Following the announcement of the sanctions, one Chinese government official took to social media to call Trudeau a “boy.”
“Boy, your greatest achievement is to have ruined the friendly relations between China and Canada, and have turned Canada into a running dog of the US,” China’s consul general in Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang, wrote in a tweet.
In a statement issued early last week, Global Affairs said that “mounting evidence” points to “systemic, state-led human rights violations by Chinese authorities” in the region.
“This includes the mass arbitrary detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity, as well as political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.”
In a further show of a multi-country consensus, a joint statement was released by the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and the United States secretary of state last week.
“The evidence, including from the Chinese Government’s own documents, satellite imagery, and eyewitness testimony is overwhelming,” the statement read.
“China’s extensive program of repression includes severe restrictions on religious freedoms, the use of forced labour, mass detention in internment camps, forced sterilisations, and the concerted destruction of Uyghur heritage.”
The United Nations, meanwhile, has been pushing to obtain unfettered access to the Xinjiang region in order to get a handle on the situation on the ground.
When pressed about the push during Monday’s press conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN is “seriously engaging” the Chinese government on the possibility of a visit.
“We are seriously engaging the Chinese government in order to be able to have the mission of the human rights high commissioner and to make sure that that mission has no unacceptable limitations,” he said.
“So I hope that these negotiations will be concluded positively.”