‘Playing us!’ Justin Trudeau issues rallying call to West over China tactics

Vladimir Putin discusses ‘unparalleled partnership’ with China

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Canada’s Prime Minister made the remark in an interview on Christmas Day. Mr Trudeau told Global television: “We’ve been competing and China has been, from time to time, very cleverly playing us off each other in an open market, competitive way.

“We need to do a better job of working together and standing strong so China can’t play the angles and divide us one against the other.”

Relations between Canada and China have chilled since the 2018 detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.

China detained two Canadians shortly afterwards and denyied accusations of hostage diplomacy from Canada.

Meng reached a deal with US prosecutors in September to end the extradition fight. The two Canadians were released within hours of the agreement.

However, even before Meng’s arrest, Canada’s repeated questioning of China’s human rights positions irked Beijing with the two countries failing to come closer.

Earlier in December, Canada said it will join allies in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in February to send China a message over its human rights record, including in the western region of Xinjiang.

It emerged on Sunday that Beijing has replaced the Communist Party chief in Xinjiang who oversaw a crackdown targeting Uyghurs and other Muslims in the name of fighting religious extremism.

United Nations researchers and human rights activists estimate more than one million Muslims have been detained in camps in the region.

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China rejects accusations of abuse, describing the camps as vocational centres designed to combat extremism.

In late 2019, Beijing said all people in the camps had graduated.

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden signed into law a ban on imports from Xinjiang over concerns about forced labour, provoking Chinese condemnation.

A spokesperson from China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said on Saturday that the signing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law in the US was a manifestation of Washington’s “bullying mindset, an extension of gangster logic and a revival of the Cold War mentality.”

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Xu Guixiang said at a press conference in Beijing said the Act will in no way affect Xinjiang’s development and progress.

He added: “On the contrary, it has exposed the United States’ fake human rights, real hegemony, and the intention to sabotage in the name of concern.”

Some foreign lawmakers and parliaments, as well as US secretaries of state in the Biden and Trump administrations, have labelled the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide.

In July, Conservative MP Alicia Kearns called out the Chinese Communist Party for carrying out “genocide” against the minority population.

Last week, China also made a series of antagonistic statements targeting a group of Western countries who labelled recently held Hong Kong elections as rigged because of new rules brought in by Beijing.

Statements from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, known collectively as the Five Eyes alliance, said the new policies eliminated any meaningful political opposition.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said the country firmly rejected and condemned the West’s collusion, irresponsible remarks and interference in its internal affairs.

They said: “Certain Western countries should face up to the fact that Hong Kong has returned to the motherland for 24 years.

“They should abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations, stop all forms of meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs and interference in other internal affairs of China.

“Any attempt to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability is doomed to fail.”

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