A comment by the Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Kingsway has raised accusations she is turning a “blind eye” to human rights abuses in China and has sparked controversy regarding her party’s human-rights policy with the Chinese communist regime.
At an all-candidates debate in her riding on Oct. 4, Liberal Wendy Yuan responded to a question about Falun Gong practitioners in China who are tortured or killed for their organs by saying, “On Falun Gong, our policy is not to interfere in other country's internal affairs.”
The Chinese regime itself labels the persecution of Falun Gong, as well as the repression of Tibetan Buddhists, journalists, and democracy activists, as “internal affairs.”
By most accounts, Falun Gong is the most severely persecuted group in China. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has said two-thirds of reported torture cases in China are against believers of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that espouses truth, compassion, and tolerance.
The repression of the group is also documented repeatedly in U.S. State Department reports on religious freedom in China.
In 2006, independent investigators concluded that the communist regime had been killing detained Falun Gong practitioners to sell their organs in a lucrative trade. The report authors included David Kilgour, the former Liberal cabinet member responsible for Asia and the Pacific.
Ms. Yuan’s statement was denounced in a news release from Victoria lawyer Clive Ansley, chair of the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (CIPFG) in North America. Ansley demanded that Liberal Leader Stephane Dion dissociate his party from Yuan’s views.
"It was shocking to hear from Ms. Yuan that the Liberal policy toward genocide, torture, and murder for the theft of organs is to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party's cover-up of its crimes,” Ansley said. “Under international law, human rights abuses and crimes against humanity can never be considered the internal affairs of any sovereign state.”
Ms. Yuan is running to replace Member of Parliament David Emerson, who ran as a Liberal in Vancouver-Kingsway before jumping to the Conservatives shortly after the last election.
She is the president and CEO of Bradley Pacific Enterprises, an exporting company with business ties to China’s government and Chinese firms including the Bank of China, Sinochem Import & Export Co., China Minerals and Metals Import & Export Co., and China Machinery Import & Export Co., some which are state-owned.
Ms. Yuan has also visited China as a business leader in trade delegations led by both Liberal Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.
In the current election, the Liberals have been touting their intent to strengthen ties with China. It is also mentioned in the party’s platform.
The Liberals have denounced Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s more outspoken stance on Chinese human-rights abuses, arguing that it will damage ties with a trade partner.
But while Mr. Harper’s public comments on the Chinese regime’s human-rights failings have noticeably angered Chinese leaders, trade between the two countries has continued to grow.
Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, a group that represents Falun Gong practitioners in Canada, released a public letter she wrote to Dion seeking clarification.
“Should the candidates be turning a blind eye to atrocities in exchange for business, trade, and other interests under the excuse of so-called ‘engagement’? Should the international community label it a Chinese ‘internal affair’ to avoid their moral and social responsibility?” she wrote.
Ms. Zhou says Mr. Dion has not responded to her letter.
The Liberal Party of Canada also did not respond to The Epoch Times when asked to clarify whether Yuan’s statements reflect the party’s official position.