Over a dozen Canadian academics have signed onto an international solidarity statement condemning China’s latest retaliatory sanctions targeting researchers and university professors from Western nations. 

To date over 740 academics have signed the declaration which continues to gain support online.  

Among the Canadians to have added their name to the document include:  

Lynette Ong, University of Toronto, Thomas Bruce, University of Toronto, Emile Dirks, University of Toronto, Michael Lambek, University of Toronto, C. D. Alison Bailey, University of British Columbia, Leo K. Shin, The University of British Columbia, Manfred Elfstrom, University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Christopher Rea, University of British Columbia, Tsering Shakya, University of British Columbia, Timothy Brook, University of British Columbia, Josephine Chiu-Duke, The University of British Columbia, Shannon Walsh, University of British Columbia, HsingChi von Bergmann, The University of British Columbia, Pitman Potter, University of British Columbia, Charles Burton, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Andre Laliberte, University of Ottawa, Marie Leduc, Independent Researcher, Canada. 

On March 26, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced a spat of sanctions targeting scholars and their families who are speaking out against China’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in the nation’s Xinjiang region. 

“The sanctions are the latest escalation of a process of constraining academic debate that has occurred over the last few decades, and that has included attempts to malign individual non-Chinese scholars in the Party-state-controlled Chinese media or deny them entry to China, as well as persecution of scholars and the closing of spaces for free academic enquiry in the Hong Kong SAR (special administrative region),” the solidarity statement writes. 

“The structurally most vulnerable victims of academic persecution have been Chinese scholars whose criticism of the government has exposed them in some cases to extremely serious measures including disciplinary action, dismissal, enforced disappearance, criminal punishment, and inhumane treatment during incarceration.”

The declaration goes on to call on the Chinese government to revoke the “unjustified sanctions” and for universities to stand up to China’s “intimidation strategy.” 

So far, the Chinese government has targeted academics from the UK and the EU in retaliatory sanctions. No Canadian academic has been sanctioned by China to date. However, China has targeted politicians in Canada with sanctions including Conservative Party MP Michael Chong. 

“There’s a clear message there: They’re giving the Liberal cabinet a pass on sanctions because they were good boys and girls who abstained from the motion recognizing a Uyghur genocide,” said Chong in an interview

In February, an opposition motion to declare that China’s human rights abuses constituted an ongoing genocide was passed through the House of Commons receiving unanimous support barring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet, who abstained from voting on the matter. 

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