Canada to ban import of goods from China that use forced labour

This was part of a package of seven measures announced by Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, in coordination with the United Kingdom and other international partners.
A member of the Muslim Uighur minority holds a placard as she demonstrates in front of the Chinese consulate on December 30, 2020, in Istanbul. (AFP file)
A member of the Muslim Uighur minority holds a placard as she demonstrates in front of the Chinese consulate on December 30, 2020, in Istanbul. (AFP file)
Updated on Jan 12, 2021 09:04 PM IST
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ByAnirudh Bhattacharyya , edited by Vinod Janardhanan

Canada has announced that it will prohibit import of goods made wholly or partly using forced labour, in the wake of reports of forced labour and human rights violations targeting the Uighur Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region of China.

This was part of a package of seven measures announced by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), the country’s foreign ministry, in coordination with the United Kingdom and other international partners.

A release from GAC said Canada was “advancing measures to address the risk of forced labour from any country from entering Canadian and global supply chains and to protect Canadian businesses from becoming unknowingly complicit.”

The announcement came jointly from François-Philippe Champagne, minister of foreign affairs (minutes before he was transferred to the innovation, science and industry portfolio), and Mary Ng, minister of small business, export promotion, and international trade.

The statement also asserted that Canada is “gravely concerned with evidence and reports of human rights violations” involving the Uighur ethnic minority in Xinjiang, “ including repressive surveillance, mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment, forced labour and mass transfers of forced labourers from Xinjiang to provinces across China. These activities strongly run counter to China’s international human rights obligations.”

The measures taken by the Canadian government also include a Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for Canadian companies, a business advisory on Xinjiang-related entities, enhanced advise to Canadian companies, export controls, increasing awareness for Responsible Business Conduct linked to Xinjiang; and a study on forced labour and supply chain risks.

The statement quoted Champagne as saying that Canada was “deeply concerned regarding the mass arbitrary detention and mistreatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities by Chinese authorities. Nobody should face mistreatment on the basis of their religion or ethnicity. Together with the UK, we are taking action to ensure we are not complicit in the abuse of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.”

Ng said, “Our government is committed to ensuring that Canadian businesses at home and abroad are not unknowingly involved in any supply chains involving forced labour.”

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022