BEIJING/OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday said China’s sanctions against two American religious-rights officials and one Canadian lawmaker were unacceptable and vowed to continue to defend human rights.
Beijing’s sanctions followed those imposed by the United States, European Union, Britain and Canada earlier this week for what they say are violations of the rights of Uighur Muslims and other Turkic minorities in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Trudeau called the Chinese sanctions “unacceptable actions.” “We will continue to defend human rights around the world with our international partners,” Trudeau said on Twitter.
China sanctioned Canadian opposition lawmaker Michael Chong, vice-chair of parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE), as well as the FAAE’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which has eight members and this month presented a report concluding that atrocities had been committed in Xinjiang that constitute crimes against humanity and genocide.
Beijing also said it will take measures against the chair and vice-chair of the U.S. government’s advisory Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Gayle Manchin and Tony Perkins, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“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 ministry said.
“They must stop political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in any form and refrain from going farther down the wrong path. Otherwise they will get their fingers burnt.”
The individuals are banned from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, the ministry said, and Chinese citizens and institutions are prohibited from doing business with the three individuals or having any exchanges with the subcommittee.
China’s previous sanctions on U.S. individuals whom it says have seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and interests on Xinjiang-related issues remain in effect, according to the statement.
Chong, who is a member of the opposition Conservative Party, said he would “wear (the sanctions) as a badge of honor."
“This demonstrates that parliamentarians are being effective in drawing attention to the genocide of the Uighur people that is taking place in western China,” Chong said in a telephone interview.
Chong urged the Trudeau government to “officially recognize the Uighur genocide,” and said the sanctions would have no practical effect because he had no plans to travel to China.
Activists and U.N. rights experts say at least a million Muslims have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor and sterilizations.
China has repeatedly denied all accusations of abuse and says its camps offer vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.