Canada’s top diplomat expressed ‘grave concern’ on behalf of the Canadian government concerning the ongoing human rights abuses against Uyghur ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang region of northwest China.
Canada and the United Kingdom are addressing labour and supply chain considerations to prevent Canadian companies from being complicit in rights abuses in the autonomous region. Specifically, from the Government of Canada this means,
- The Prohibition of imports of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour;
- A Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for Canadian companies;
- A Business Advisory on Xinjiang-related entities;
- Enhanced advice to Canadian businesses;
- Export controls;
- Increasing awareness for Responsible Business Conduct linked to Xinjiang; and
- A Study on forced labour and supply chain risks
The Canadian government states that Canada imported $75 billion and exported $23 billion worth of merchandise with China in 2019.
The statement stops short of fingering the Chinese Communist Party for the abuses and stops short of labeling the human rights abuses as part of a systematic campaign of demographic genocide by the Chinese regime. Human rights reports have noted restriction of speech, movement, and religion in the region along with arbitrary detention and confinement.
Though the UK joins Canada in this specific initiative that addresses business between these countries and Xinjiang, MPs from the British Parliament are calling upon their government to do more. In one example, MPs from the governing party sought to amend trade legislation to forbid British trade with countries that commit genocide.