With all-party support, Canada’s House of Commons overwhelmingly approved a provocative motion Monday that condemns China for perpetrating a “genocide” against the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority and other Turkic peoples.
Introduced by the hard-right Conservatives, the motion equates Beijing’s state surveillance and repression of the Uyghurs with the Nazi holocaust and other horrific crimes.
It is the latest salvo in a propaganda campaign aimed at providing a bogus human rights cover for Canadian imperialism’s ever expanding role in Washington’s all-sided diplomatic, economic and military-strategic offensive against China—and under conditions where US President Joe Biden has vowed to wage “extreme competition” with China.
MPs from all parties, including the governing Liberals and the nominally “left” New Democrats and Greens, backed the “genocide” motion, and a Bloc Québécois (BQ) amendment that urged Ottawa to press for the 2022 Winter Olympics to be withdrawn from China.
With the exception of Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, all members of the Liberal cabinet, including Trudeau, absented themselves from the House of Commons during Monday’s vote. Garneau abstained.
In the face of opposition charges of “inaction” and appeasement, Trudeau and Garneau have been at pains to stress that their government would be willing to embrace the “genocide” charge, if done in coordination with Washington and the other G-7 imperialist powers.
The incendiary charge of “genocide” levelled against the Stalinist Communist Party regime in Beijing is politically motivated. While there is no doubt that China’s government, which represents the interests of a corrupt capitalist oligarchy, is carrying out widespread repression against the Uyghurs of Xinjiang province and the working class throughout the country, the lurid claims that it is committing a “genocide” have no basis in fact. They are being promoted in the United States, Canada and other Western imperialist countries with the aim of demonizing China, labelling those who oppose the US strategic offensive against China as apologists for “crimes against humanity” and creating a base of popular support for aggression and war with Beijing. It is a classic case of human rights imperialism, which has been used by Washington, Ottawa and the other imperialist powers to justify one war of aggression after another over the past 25 years.
The claim that Beijing is conducting “genocide” against the Uyghurs goes hand-in-hand with the promotion of totally discredited claims, originating from far-right groups and now embraced by the Biden administration, that the coronavirus was released from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (See Washington’s Wuhan laboratory lie)
The passage of the China genocide motion came on the eve of yesterday’s virtual summit between Trudeau and President Biden. Picking up from where the far-right Trump administration left off, Biden and his secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, have vowed to continue and intensify Washington’s bullying of Beijing. Unlike Trump, however, whose policy was characterized by unilateralism, Biden has indicated that he will work to cobble together an alliance of Western “democracies” to more effectively confront China and use “human rights” issues to try to give this offensive a “progressive” hue.
In a recent speech to an online meeting of the Munich Security Conference, Biden invoked Europe and America’s “shared democratic values” to appeal for “transatlantic unity” to “push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system.”
Canada’s ruling elite views its three-quarter-century-old military-security partnership with Washington as pivotal to its global imperialist interests and ambitions, and shares the US Republican-Democratic bipartisan consensus that the rise of China constitutes an unacceptable threat to North American imperialist hegemony. That is why it is hitching its wagon to Washington’s anti-China offensive.
Monday’s unanimous parliamentary vote comes after a crescendo of anti-Chinese propaganda from the media and the political establishment. Last month, a letter sponsored by the BQ demanding that the 2022 Winter Olympics be stripped from China due to its “genocide” against the Uyghurs was supported by representatives of all parties in the House of Commons and the Quebec legislature, including the two pro-Quebec independence parties in the Quebec legislature, the Parti Québécois and the pseudo-left Québec Solidaire. (See Canada’s “left” parties promote bogus claims China is committing “genocide” against Uyghurs)
The Conservatives and New Democrats, the “left” and “right” flanks of this all-party coalition for strategic conflict and war preparations against China, are demanding that the Trudeau government go even further in integrating Canada with the US offensive against Beijing.
NDP international development spokesperson Heather McPherson chastised the Trudeau cabinet for failing to endorse Monday’s “genocide” motion. “Cabinet hid,” she complained. “It seems to me to be very along the same lines of their China policy to date, where there is such a lack of action.”
The “action” demanded by these pro-imperialist warmongers includes the formal exclusion of Chinese tech giant Huawei from Canada’s 5G telecommunications network on the basis of “national security” concerns. It also includes the call for Canada to withdraw from the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is seen by Beijing as an important pillar of its Belt and Road initiative aimed at expanding Chinese trade and economic activity across Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Last year, even as it provided the big business minority Liberal government with the votes needed to retain power, the NDP joined forces with the Conservatives and BQ to create a special parliamentary committee, over the government’s objections, charged with reviewing and pressing for the “reset” of Canada’s policy towards China.
The opposition parties’ denunciation of the Liberal government for allegedly failing to adopt a sufficiently hardline approach to Beijing must serve as a warning to the working class as to the extent the entire establishment is gripped by imperialist anxiety and militarism.
Trudeau and his Liberals long ago abandoned their plans to seek an Australia-style free trade agreement with China. Instead, with the full support of their trade union allies, they worked with Trump to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to make it a more explicit trade war and geopolitical bloc, so as to strengthen North America’s twin imperialist powers against their rivals, above all China and Russia. The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement specifically prohibits free trade deals with “non-market economies,” a euphemism for China.
In December 2018, the Trudeau government ordered the seizure of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on bogus charges of violating illegal US sanctions on Iran, and the Canadian military has dramatically expanded its presence in the Asia Pacific in recent years, including with “freedom of navigation”-type operations in the Taiwan Strait.
In his first discussion with Biden after his assumption of the presidency, Trudeau reiterated his government’s commitment to expand bilateral military-strategic cooperation, above all by upgrading the North American Aerospace Defence command (NORAD) so that this Cold War-era military alliance is ready for a nuclear conflagration with Moscow or Beijing
Following Monday’s vote, Garneau made clear in a statement that the Liberal cabinet’s tactical decision to abstain on the non-binding vote did not represent a weakening of its hardline stance towards China. Garneau welcomed “parliamentarians working together and debating this critical issue,” reiterated the government’s call for an international investigation of the “allegations of genocide” and said Canada “will continue to work with international partners”—that is, the US, Britain, France, Germany and Japan—“to defend vulnerable minorities.”
For the Conservatives, NDP and their backers in the ruling class, this does not go far enough. The opposition parties have repeatedly assailed the government from the right on military spending, with the NDP complaining that the Liberals, who have announced a more than 70 percent hike in military spending, are guilty of underspending on defence and leaving Canada’s armed forces ill-equipped to fulfill their imperialist operations around the world.
Well aware that this mad program of military rearmament and great power confrontation enjoys no popular support, the ruling class is working through their political parties and media mouthpieces to whip up a bogus narrative of Canada standing up for “democracy” and “human rights.” Tory leader Erin O’Toole gave voice to this drive following Monday’s vote, declaring, “There is real suffering going on in China, there’s a genocide happening, and Canadians, while we’re free traders and I’m very proud to be a free market party, our values are not for sale.”
Just who does O’Toole think he is kidding? Canada’s “values” and its denunciations of reputed violations of international law invariably correspond to its imperialist ambitions and those of its closest ally, the United States. In 2003, when the Bush administration launched its illegal war of aggression against Iraq on bogus claims of “weapons of mass destruction,” then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien dismissed all talk of the war being a violation of international law, quipping cynically that this would be a question for historians to decide decades hence. In 2011, the Canadian military joined NATO’s war on Libya, claiming they were upholding “human rights” and the “responsibility to protect,” as they bombarded the country and used Islamists as shock troops to overthrow the Gaddafi regime. After NATO’s bombs caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and plunged the country into civil war, a Canadian Armed Forces commander acknowledged that Ottawa had functioned as “Al Qaeda’s air force.”
However, the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the “human rights” imperialists does not make their pro-war campaign any less dangerous. On the contrary, they hope that the incessant repetition of the lie of Chinese “genocide” will poison the political climate, creating the conditions for them to pursue a campaign of aggression against China in alliance with Washington, whose logic is a catastrophic military conflict, unopposed. As the banner headline on the front-page of yesterday’s Globe and Mail’s gleefully declared, “Yea: 266 Nay 0–China committing genocide, parliament declares.”