Canadians were outraged after the mayor of Winnipeg boasted on social media about meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Canada earlier this month.
Mayor Brian Bowman tweeted that he and Ambassador Cong Peiwu discussed “trade” and “protection and promotion of human rights” at a December 5th meeting.
The tweet received an overwhelmingly negative response, with over 500 replies criticizing the comment and only 41 likes. Most of the responses pointed out China’s abysmal human rights record.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne made similar comments in a resurfaced video last week, in which he claimed that China was a “very inclusive society.”
“Canada and I would say China, stands out as a beacon of stability, predictability, a rule-based system, a very inclusive society,” Champagne told Chinese state media in May of 2017.
Currently, the Chinese government is cracking down on the country’s Muslim minority by imprisoning them in re-education camps in the Xinjiang province. Witnesses have also described Chinese officials conducting systematic torture and beatings on prisoners.
According to Human Rights Watch estimates, nearly one million people, including women and children, are being held against their will in the camps.
Tuesday marks one year since Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in China on trumped-up charges.
Since their arrest Dec. 10, 2018, they faced repeated interrogations and have been denied access to family and legal representation.
The pair have only received over a dozen 30-minute consular visits with Canadian officials since being imprisoned.
Global Affairs Canada released a statement Tuesday addressing Kovrig’s and Spavor’s prolonged detainment.
“These two Canadians are and will remain our absolute priority. We will continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release and to stand up for them as a government and as Canadians,” wrote the statement.