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Chinese ambassador denounces pending vote by MPs on declaring genocide against

China’s envoy to Canada is telling Canadian parliamentarians to butt out of his country’s internal affairs through their pending vote on declaring a genocide against ethnic Muslim Uighurs in its Xinjiang province.

Cong Peiwu, the Chinese ambassador to Canada, is reiterating his government’s view that there is no mistreatment of Uighurs and labelling accusations from the United Nations and others that millions of people in detention camps are being subjected to forced labour and sterilization as unfounded China-bashing.

The Conservatives tabled a motion in Parliament this past week calling on Canada to formally declare crimes against Uighur Muslims in China a genocide. That motion may come to a non-binding vote as early as Monday.

“We firmly oppose that because it runs counter to the facts. And it’s like, you know, interfering in our domestic affairs,” Cong told The Canadian Press in an interview Saturday. “There’s nothing like genocide happening in Xinjiang at all.” The Chinese embassy in Ottawa proactively offered the interview on Saturday ahead of the scheduled vote.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has said the motion and subsequent vote is needed to send a “clear and unequivocal signal that we will stand up for human rights and the dignity of human rights, even if it means sacrificing some economic opportunity.”

WATCH | O’Toole calls on Liberal MPs to back his motion on China:

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole spoke to reporters on Parliament Hill before presenting his opposition day motion to the House of Commons 0:48

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stopped short of agreeing with U.S. officials, human rights advocates and legal scholars who argue that the violations amount to a genocide, saying it is a loaded word that has to be carefully used.

“There is no question there have been tremendous human rights abuses coming out of Xinjiang,” Trudeau said earlier this week, adding that use of the word must be “properly justified and demonstrated so as not to weaken the application of ‘genocide’ in situations in the past.”

Cong dismissed the widespread allegations against China over the treatment of Uighurs and reiterated his government’s view that it has acted to stamp out terrorist activity in the province .

He said the region’s population grew by 25 per cent between 2010 and 2018, a figure he said undercuts accusations of forced sterilization and genocide. He said Uighurs are receiving vocational and language training so they can prosper in Chinese society.

He also disputed allegations of religious persecution, saying Uighurs are free to worship in mosques.

“I think we respect your values. But I think our core values should be: respect facts. And to stop spreading disinformation or even rumours,” said Cong.

International pressure

Britain’s Foreign Office minister of state, James Cleverly, told a UN Security Council meeting last month that China’s “severe and disproportionate measures” against the Uighurs are an example of counter-terrorism measures being used “to justify egregious human rights violations and oppression.”

Cleverly said China has detained 1.8 million people in Xinjiang without trial and is not living up to its obligations under international human rights law or its Security Council requirement that counter-terrorism measures comply with those obligations.

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, called on the UN in November to investigate whether China’s persecution of the Uighurs constitutes genocide.

WATCH | China fires back after Bob Rae calls for UN investigation:

Chinese officials have fired back after Canada’s Ambassador to the UN Bob Rae told CBC News that he’s calling on the UN to investigate whether China’s persecution of its Uighur minority should be considered an act of genocide, a term China says may be more applicable to Canada. 1:54

A Canadian parliamentary subcommittee concluded in an October report that China’s treatment of Uighurs is a genocide, a…

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