DHARAMSHALA: Amidst reports of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s planned trip to China in December, Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson plans to shine a spotlight on China’s human rights abuses in Tibet.
Senator Patterson plans to use the procedural rules of the upper chamber of the Canadian parliament to draw attention to the human rights abuses in Tibet, which has been under Chinese occupation since 1951.
He said he and fellow senators will read the biographies of more than half a dozen Tibetan political prisoners held in Tibet.
“It’s a message to the government there are important human rights issues not to be ignored in engagement with China,” Patterson told Canadian media.
Senator Patterson said he was struck by what he saw as similar threats to culture faced by Tibetans and Canada’s Inuit community, after meeting with Tibetan Canadians earlier this year.
The Senator’s expression of concern over human rights abuses in Tibet comes on the heels of a recently concluded visit to Canada by CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay.
Aside from drumming up support for the Tibetan movement, Dr Sangay has cautioned Canada against pursuing deeper economic ties with China at the cost of human rights violations and abuse of fundamental liberal values.
Speaking to CBC in Ottawa, Dr Sangay has said: “You should not give a free pass for human rights, for basic values of Canada. You can’t compromise on that.”
Human rights aside, Dr Sangay also questioned the logic over doing business with a state that has a track record of having trade surpluses and using trade pacts to influence political agendas in foreign countries.
“Canada needs to ask itself whether it makes business sense to pursue free trade with China,” he said.
“China will not buy more goods from Canada just because there is an agreement,” he said. “If it’s not a good deal, they won’t buy. Canada should engage with China on rights and have “frank discussions as a friend.”
Canada and China has established a high-level political dialogue that calls for yearly visits between leaders of the two countries, and Trudeau’s turn is coming up this year.
But the two countries disagree on the role of human rights in the talks: Canada says they are linked but China maintains the issue should be divorced from trade agreements.