What keeps Trudeau from Sanctioning China for Human Rights Abuses?

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on December 28, 2020

On Monday a court in the People’s Republic of China handed citizen journalist Zhang Zhan a 4-year prison sentence for on-the-ground reporting in Wuhan on the COVID-19 outbreak. 

According to Zhang’s lawyer, Ren Quanniu, she had been sentenced under the guise that she was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” by making known the extent of the outbreak which contradicted the official Chinese government’s propaganda. 

Ren said that they will probably appeal the decision, and before the trial, Ren stated “Ms. Zhang believes she is being persecuted for exercising her freedom of speech,” which the phrasing hints at the hollow nature of “freedoms” in a communist country like China. Nowhere in the West in this same situation would a client’s lawyer simply say their client thinks their rights and freedoms are being violated as if it is only an opinion.

Zhang’s arrest and subsequent sentencing is not the first time the Chinese government has cracked down on whistleblowers putting out information about the spread of COVID-19 in China. 

Zhang Zhan.

Zhang Zhan.

At the start of the pandemic doctors and other Chinese citizens were reprimanded or legally punished for putting out any information on the pandemic that was not in line with the Chinese government’s narrative that it was under control. 

This is a pattern of behaviour from the authoritarian Chinese government not likely to stop unless an outside force puts pressure on them to stop.

Of course, the UN Human Rights Office is not going to do anything substantial about China’s gross abuse of human rights seeing as they simply stated that they were “concerned” by the obvious move to silence those trying to get the truth about the virus to the public. 

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the head of the Canadian government, a big believer in China’s “basic dictatorship”, it is unlikely Canada will do anything about the situation either, seeing as Trudeau already barely plays an active role in trying to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and even had the Chinese military train in winter warfare in Canada

Regardless of Trudeau’s unwillingness to break with his strong internationalist ideology, Canada should be at this moment talking seriously about placing economic sanctions on China. 


The arrest of journalists and Uyghurs Muslims in concentration camps in China may seem like someone else’s problem, but if Canada is to retain its position as being a “peacekeeper” we need to put the screws to the Chinese Communists.

China’s authoritarian ambitions are not restrained only to the domestic arena, in the recent past, they have cracked down on their democratic neighbour Hong Kong, been in small skirmishes with India, and have been increasingly threatening towards the Republic of China (Taiwan). 

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The Chinese coverup of COVID-19 also cannot be discounted as an attack through negligence on the rest of the planet. 

It is not only in the moral interest of Canada to place economic sanctions on China, but it is in Canada’s own national interests as China’s power and influence need to be heavily curbed.

Canada should start by banning new foreign investment into Canada from China, as well as banning Chinese-owned technology companies like Huawei from operating here. 

Every time China steps further on human rights or makes militaristic moves against its neighbours, Canada, and other Western allies should be prepared to cripple their economy and pressure them into compliance with Western democratic standards. 

Trudeau likely will continue to do nothing about the looming threat of China, but it makes one wonder what is keeping Trudeau from doing something? Fear of China, admiration for China, or a combination of both?

If Stephen Harper was still prime minister there is no doubt Canada would not have let China diplomatically dominate Canada the way Trudeau is currently allowing them to.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

One response to “What keeps Trudeau from Sanctioning China for Human Rights Abuses?”

  1. Eileen cRae says:

    In my opinion, Trudeau is working hand in glove with China as it continues its quest to dominate the world. It is neither fear nor admiration; it is downright greed for money and for power. Trudeau wishes to emulate a communist regime and establish one in our nation. He is guided by the policies of his departed father and, in fact, is competing with him as to ”making a name for himself on the world stage.” Sad that so many Liberals are of the same mind as they say little to counteract their feckless leader.