Ottawa needs to engage more with Taiwan as communist China escalates its efforts to take over the self-ruled democracy by force, said MP Garnett Genuis, who also warned of Beijing’s methods to exert influence on Canadian soil.
The Conservative MP for Sherwood Park–Fort Saskatchewan, made the remarks in an interview with The Epoch Times while addressing a number of issues impacting Canada-China relations, at a time when Beijing is taking an increasingly assertive stance against Canada and its democratic allies.
Genuis, who serves as his party’s shadow minister for international development, also called on Ottawa to do more to guard against the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to influence Chinese diasporas in Canada, and encroach on their rights and freedoms.
Genuis said the CCP’s potential invasion of Taiwan, which Beijing deems a rogue province it has aspirations to control, is the latest in a pattern of “escalating aggression and insecurity” requiring attention from the international community.
Following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August, Beijing has ramped up its threats against the island nation, including escalated military drills that simulated an invasion of Taiwan. Drones from mainland China were also repeatedly sent into Taiwan-controlled airspaces.
“I think right now probably the biggest issue on people’s minds is Taiwan—the risk of an invasion of Taiwan [by China],” Genuis said.
Pointing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the MP said people shouldn’t get complacent and “presume that the kinds of aggressive military actions that were part of world history for a very long time are somehow in the past and behind us.”
“These things can happen today and we need to be ready for them,” he said.
China conducted live-fire exercises around Taiwan ahead of Pelosi’s visit and followed up with more military drills after she left the island on Aug. 3. Such aggression has spurred international condemnation against China and support for Taiwan.
Several parliamentarians, including Liberal MP Judy Sgro, have announced plans to visit Taiwan this fall to boost trade relationships with the island. Such exchanges between Canadian and Taiwanese parliamentarians are common, said Genuis, but he noted more engagement is needed from federal ministers.
“I would like to see ministers be willing to engage in the kind of interactions that we are seeing from members of parliament,” he said. “We’ve been putting the pressure on the government from the Conservative opposition, just to recognize the benefits of that cooperation.”
Genuis also noted that China is seeking to “shift the goalposts” by condemning and deterring such international engagements with Taiwan.
“They’re trying to kind of de-normalize things that are normal,” he said, adding this new “strategic context” requires principled pushback from western democracies.
“We need an even stronger assertion of our values, our commitment to democracy, to freedom, to self-determination.”
Genuis has been adamant in criticizing communist China’s various human rights violations, such as its notorious organ harvesting of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as other prisoners of conscience.
He has introduced several petitions in the parliament in support of Senator Salma Ataullahjan’s Bill S-223, which would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent.
China’s organ harvesting abuse received worldwide attention following the release of a 2006/2007 report, co-authored by former Canadian MP David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas.
The report, now published as a book, titled “Bloody Harvest, The killing of Falun Gong for their organs,” was sparked in part by The Epoch Times’ reports of a Chinese woman who, in 2006, made public her ex-husband’s participation in the pillaging of organs from arbitrarily imprisoned adherents of Falun Gong, a meditation practice rooted in the Buddhist tradition. Members of the practice have been the target of ongoing systemic persecution launched by the CCP in the late 1990s.
While similar bills have long been introduced in the Canadian parliament, efforts to ban “transplant tourism” has yet to come to fruition—though it will likely come to pass in this parliament, according to Genuis.
“I’m very optimistic that we will finally get this bill passed in this Parliament,” he said.
The Senate bill passed second reading in the House before the summer recess, and Genuis said it will return to the agenda in the fall.
“There’s a very good chance this bill will be passed into law by at the latest March, April of next year,” he said.
When commenting on another legal tool, the Sergei Magnitsky Act, which could be used to sanction Chinese officials who are complicit in human rights abuses, Genuis said Ottawa has been reluctant in doing so.
“That bill is … only as good as its use,” he said. “The government has used Magnitsky sanctions in certain contexts, but it’s been very reluctant to use them … in response to human rights abuses in China.”
Challenges for Canada
Genuis said a particular challenge for Canadian politicians in addressing the China issue is the ability to distinguish between Beijing’s “propaganda” and the diverse views of Chinese-Canadians.
He said this is further complicated by the fact that the CCP deliberately blurs the lines to characterize those critical of Beijing’s policies and actions with “anti-China sentiment.”
“The nature of CCP propaganda is to try to redefine names and words—to change what the legacy of Confucius means, to redefine even what Marxism means to their advantage, to redefine anti-racism discourse, such that any criticism of their policies is deemed racist,” he said.
“We need to sharply distinguish between criticism of the policies of the Chinese Communist Party, of which Chinese people are the primary victims, … and a generalized anti-China sentiment,” he added.
Annika Wang and Kacey Cox contributed to this report.