There was once a time when the official stance of the People’s Republic of China towards Canada was indifference spiced with the occasional Norman Bethune reference. Those days are now firmly over: Under the rule of Xi Jinping, China has adopted an openly aggressive stance towards the Maple Leaf, a position represented most notably by the imprisonment of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
This rising hostility has led to a notable tone-shift in how Chinese state media and Beijing’s official spokespeople refer to Canada. A sampling is below. The PRC has lashed out harshly at anyone who has criticized ongoing human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province, where Muslim Uyghurs are being sterilized and corralled into re-education camps under the guise of “anti-terrorism.” While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has waffled on calling the actions “genocide,” on Feb. 22 nearly all of the House of Commons (except for Trudeau and his cabinet) backed a non-binding resolution stating that “a genocide is currently being carried out by the People’s Republic of China against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.”
Numerous Chinese diplomatic responses listed Canadian treatment of Indigenous peoples as evidence of Ottawa’s “hypocrisy” on the issue. “The Canadian side should ask itself when it comes to committing “genocide” and reflect deeply on the miserable experience of its indigenous people,” read a lengthy statement from China’s embassy in Canada.