Canada swiftly sanctions Belarus, Hong Kong pro-Belarus group expects similar sanctions against China

Last Friday the Canadian government announced sanctions against Belarusian officials, the second round of sanctions in more than a month, Canada’s pro-Hong Kong democracy criticized Ottawa’s double standards, the speed of sanctions against Belarus, but the Chinese and Hong Kong officials have been slow to make any sanctions moves.

In August this year, Belarus due to political turmoil caused by election fraud triggered international concern, the Canadian government and international allies soon stood together with substantive sanctions, September 30 announced sanctions against Belarus President Lukashenko and his eldest son and other eight people, November 6 expanded sanctions on another 13 officials, not allowed to enter the country, and freeze assets. The Belarusian Canadian Alliance’s efforts to lobby Ottawa have borne fruit, with MP Chandra Arya saying in Parliament that Lukashenko’s violence and fraud will not be tolerated by the international community. “People of Canadian-Belarusian descent across the country have been fighting for justice and human rights in Belarus for many years, and Ottawa standing up for democracy in Belarus is representing Canadian values.”

In contrast, many pro-Hong Kong democracy organizations across Canada have also actively lobbied Ottawa to punish Chinese and Hong Kong officials who suppress democracy and human rights, but Ottawa has been slow to do anything about it. This highlights the incompetence of the Trudeau government, and that the opposition parties will have to join forces to resist in order to have any power, said Wang Lu, a sponsor of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Civic Power. “Some people in the federal Liberal Party already have a lot of business with China, and now it’s a minority government that relies on the NDP to stay in power, so we should be trying to get more buy-in from NDP MPs and work together to put pressure on the Trudeau government.”

Mabel Lee, president of the Vancouver Federation of Pro-Democracy Movements, said she supports the Canadian government’s sanctioning of Belarusian officials, but would like to see the same condemnation and sanction from the government for the Beijing authorities’ crackdown on Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Mabel Lee said, “It’s very disturbing that Canada is silent when it comes to China. I know it’s because we have two Canadians imprisoned by China and we still have a lot of economic and trade interactions with China, but those factors still shouldn’t be a reason to sacrifice our values.”

Why can’t we sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials? Global Affairs Canada said Ottawa is discussing with the rest of the international community the best way to ensure that human rights are upheld around the world, the statement said: “We believe that a sensible approach to imposing sanctions requires leverage with a core group of countries.”