Canadian PM criticised for conflating being anti-Communist Party of China with being anti-Asian

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. (Photo courtesy: Reuters/Chris Wattie)

(, Jun03’21) – Conservative MPs as well as activist from Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet have criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for remarks which appeared to conflate the idea of being anti-CCP [Communist Party of China] with being anti-Asian.

“As an Asian woman, there is a bigger target on my back, and conflating the idea of anti-CCP [Communist Party of China] with anti-Asian is actually a much bigger disrespect,” Jun 2 quoted Ms Chemi Lhamo, whose run for student president at the University of Toronto had provoked hostility and threats from Chinese nationalists, as saying. 

“Folks who claim to be standing up against anti-Asian hatred and racism, please, listen to your constituents and Asian voices,” the Tibetan activist was quoted as saying.

The occasion was Commons special committee on Canada-China relations hearing this week during which she and other activists appeared as witnesses.

The report said three women appeared before the committee as representatives of Tibetan, Uyghur and Hong Kong pro-democracy groups. Two of the three had said they had personally experienced hostility and abuse during a year that has seen a well-documented wave of anti-Asian racist violence across North America.

Ms Chemi Lhamo. (Photo courtesy: (Facebook/Chemi Lhamo)

And all three have warned against soft-pedalling criticism of the Chinese government, or throttling back on efforts to block Chinese state espionage, out of a fear of appearing racist.

Witness Rukiye Turdush of the Uyghur Research Institute has said, “If we’re against the CCP, it doesn’t mean we’re against the Chinese people. It has nothing to do with anti-Asian racism. I really didn’t get why he said that.”

Earlier, during a debate May 27 about the dismissal of two Chinese scientists from Canada’s highest security lab, the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Trudeau appeared to suggest that Conservative MPs were feeding anti-Asian sentiments by asking questions.

Conservative MPs were reported to be demanding all documents related to the two scientists, without any redactions.

The two Chinese scientists, who were a couple, were dismissed from service in Jan 2021 for what was seen as possible breach of security protocol but without any official explanation.

The report said the government had refused to explain in detail why Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were fired, and why Qiu in 2019 sent samples of Ebola and Henipah virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

But last week, when pressed by opposition members about the case, Trudeau responded by praising diversity. “We will never play into the hands of intolerance towards people from other countries, simply because they look different. We will always stand up for diversity.”

However, Conservatives responded by saying that the case was about national security and biosecurity, not diversity.

“When Prime Minister Trudeau conflates criticism of China’s government with anti-Asian racism, he plays into the propaganda efforts of China’s communist leadership,” Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong and diversity critic Kenny Chiu were quoted as saying in a statement.

“Beijing’s goal is to conflate legitimate criticism of China’s government with intolerance towards anyone of Chinese heritage.”


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