This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
The Conservatives have accused the B.C.’s newest Senate member, Yuen Pao Woo, of being an “apologist” for Beijing’s “unacceptable” behaviour in asserting territorial claims in the South China Sea. The former head of the Vancouver-based Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Woo, made his first speech on Friday after his appointment to the Senate by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month.
In his remarks, Woo disputed a Senate motion critical of China’s “escalating and hostile behaviour” in constructing artificial islands and military airfields on outcroppings in order to assert its claimed sovereignty over resource-rich and strategically-vital areas. According to Woo, the motion’s wording was “strident,” and suggested that Trudeau’s representative in the Senate, Peter Harder, was only supporting it for political reasons. In his remarks, Woo alleged that “a dogmatic and trenchant insistence on international law could … be the very precipitant of conflict.”
However, these comments were not received well by the federal Conservatives. Tory MP Peter Kent remarked that “Canadians should be rightfully concerned that Justin Trudeau has appointed an apologist for the Chinese dictatorship in the Senate,” adding that “Woo … used his very first speech in the Senate to deliver a message not on behalf of Canadians, but on behalf of Beijing.” It was added that “it seems every week we hear new evidence of the cosy relationship the Liberal government has with the Chinese Communist dictatorship. Now Liberals are using the Senate as a platform to undermine our allies and the foundation of international law.”
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