Past comments have resurfaced of the newly-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in which he called China a “very inclusive society.”

François-Philippe Champagne made the comments on China Global Television Network (CGTN) program while part of a delegation to China discussing a free trade agreement. CGTN has direct links to the Chinese Communist Party and is owned by the national broadcaster, China Central Television.

“Canada and I would say China, stands out as a beacon of stability, predictability, a rule-based system, a very inclusive society,” said Champagne on May 9, 2017. 

Champagne replaced Chrystia Freeland as foreign affairs minister after Trudeau unveiled his new cabinet in November. 

True North reached out to Global Affairs Canada for comment but had not heard back by the deadline. 

Nearly two years after the comments, Canada’s relationship with the communist country has frozen over. Currently, two Canadians are being held on trumped-up charges in retaliation to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou who is facing extradition to the U.S.

China has recently been facing international condemnation over the internment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in re-education camps. According to Human Rights Watch, estimates place the number of people being held in camps at around one million.

China has a long and sordid history of cracking down on religious minorities and those defending them. In 2015, the Chinese government detained, interrogated and tortured over 200 human rights lawyers. China has also admitted to harvesting the organs of prisoners, including practitioners of the Falun Gong religious sect. 

The Liberal government has reiterated its approach to the Chinese government as a commitment to the international rules-based order. In July, Prime Minister Trudeau claimed that Canada’s advocacy for the two detained Canadians is “working.”

“One of the things that we’ve seen is that our approach of highlighting, around the world, the concerns that people have with the arbitrary detention of two Canadians by China, is working … countries are concerned not just for Canadians but the challenges this poses to the rule of law and to the international rules-based order,” said Trudeau.

Both Michael Kovrig and Micheal Spavor will have been detained for one year on December 10.

Yesterday, former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley suggested that the Canadian government should swap Wanzhou with the Canadian pair in a “prisoner exchange.”  

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