COMMENTARY: By sanctioning Michael Chong, China could have made a mistake

2021-04-01 19:30:14

Michael Chong has been an outspoken critic of the federal government of China for a few years, absorbing a gradual stream of counterattacks from the Chinese language regime and its supporters in response.

As an opposition MP, he doesn’t make Canadian overseas coverage, however he does have a platform to strain Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Canada’s place on China.

That’s the reason the Conservative MP was shocked when he heard about China’s newest effort to close him up. By singling him out, China is giving the Conservative MP extra profile to state his case.

“I received a textual content from somebody who mentioned to me that I had been sanctioned,” Chong advised me, including he additionally obtained a hyperlink to an official assertion from the Chinese language authorities.

The sanction means Chong is prohibited from travelling to China or doing enterprise with Chinese language residents.

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“It has little impression on me,” he mentioned.

“We’re in the course of a pandemic and I had no plans to journey overseas for the foreseeable future. And I don’t do enterprise with China.

“In sensible phrases, it’s not going to have any impression on my work or my potential to proceed to talk up.”

Learn extra:
Garneau slams China’s sanctions, says they’re an ‘assault on transparency’

However Chong mentioned he nonetheless has considerations about his relations in China.

“I’m of Chinese language descent,” he mentioned, recalling that his late father fled the Chinese language regime within the Fifties, immigrating to Vancouver from Hong Kong.

“I do have cousins and different relations there,” he mentioned, including he has prevented contacting household abroad.

“I haven’t been in contact with them lately out of concern of linking them to me.”

Chong was singled out by China for his criticism of Beijing’s remedy of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province.

He’s not alone. China additionally lately sanctioned politicians and authorities officers in the US and the UK.

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However Chong notes the regime focused authorities officers near the Joe Biden administration in the US, whereas in Canada they went after a member of the opposition.

“They’re giving a go to the Liberal cupboard, as a result of the Liberal cupboard abstained from the Uyghur genocide vote,” he mentioned.

He’s referring to the Feb. 22 Home of Commons vote accusing China of committing genocide towards a couple of million Uyghurs.

The vote handed unanimously — together with the help of backbench Liberal MPs — however Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cupboard conspicuously abstained from voting on the movement.

Learn extra:
U.S. condemns Chinese language sanctions on people, entities in North America

Whereas Trudeau has criticized human rights violations in China, he has prevented the phrase “genocide,” which he known as an “extraordinarily loaded” time period.

Chong has no such hesitation.

“Genocide is happening in western China,” he mentioned.

“They’ve been forcing thousands and thousands of Uyghur Muslims into detention camps.”

China denies persecuting Uyghur Muslims and insists the “detention camps” are actually “vocational academic coaching centres” designed to “fight terrorism.”

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However because the worldwide strain builds on China, strain can also be constructing on the Trudeau authorities to take a more durable stand.

Canada has directed some robust phrases on the Chinese language regime, and lately joined the U.S. in sanctioning 4 Chinese language officers suspected of persecuting Uyghurs and different Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

One Chinese language diplomat responded by calling Trudeau a “operating canine” of the US, a time period that conjured up outdated Maoist rhetoric of years previous.

However Chong, the Conservative overseas affairs critic, mentioned these are simply low-stakes skirmishes and it’s time for Canada to show up the warmth.

“Something much less is an abdication of management,” he mentioned.

Learn extra:
Canada hits Chinese language officers with sanctions over ‘gross’ human rights violations in Xinjiang

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Canada at present does billions of {dollars} in commerce with China, and whereas Trudeau could also be frightened of a commerce battle, Chong mentioned focused financial sanctions must be imposed.

Whereas Canada has vowed to bar the import of products made with pressured labour, Canadians are nonetheless in a position to buy made-in-China cotton merchandise on-line that watchdogs say are possible produced by coerced labour in Xinjiang.

“There’s proof that Uyghur Muslims are getting used to coercively and forcibly decide cotton and produce tomatoes underneath slave-like situations,” Chong mentioned.

“We’re drawing consideration to that truth and calling on the federal government to ban the import of tomatoes and cotton from China.”

Look ahead to one of these strain to extend on Trudeau within the days forward, with Chong main the cost.

China’s sanctioning of the Conservative MP could solely serve to boost his profile and strengthen his hand.

Mike Smyth is host of ‘The Mike Smyth Present’ on International Information Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver and a commentator for International Information. You’ll be able to attain him at and observe him on Twitter at @MikeSmythNews​.

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