OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said he will continue to stand up against China’s “coercive diplomacy” and human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang after being rebuked by Beijing for similar comments earlier this week.
“We will stand up loudly and clearly for human rights all around the world, whether it is talking about the situation faced by the Uighurs, whether it is talking about the very concerning situation in Hong Kong, whether it’s calling out China for its coercive diplomacy,” Trudeau said in a news conference.
However, Trudeau added that he was not looking to escalate tensions with China.
A long-running diplomatic dispute heated up again this week when the Chinese government took issue with Trudeau’s earlier comments, and on Thursday the Chinese envoy to Ottawa, Cong Peiwu, warned Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
Cong said the “health and safety” of the 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong could be jeopardized by these “violent criminals” and so Canada should not protect them.
The diplomatic dispute stems from the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen, in Vancouver in late 2018 on a bank fraud warrant issued by U.S. authorities.
Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition in a Canadian court. Shortly after Meng’s arrest, Beijing detained two Canadians on national security charges and halted imports of canola seed.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Julie Gordon, Editing by Franklin Paul and Cynthia Osterman)