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Trade Mission to China should include Human Rights Assessment

April 08, 2013

Montreal, April 8, 2013:  Minister of International Trade Ed Fast should assess the human rights risk of promoting information and communications technology (ICT) exports to China, the Canada Tibet Committee said today.

Minister Fast is currently on a trade mission to China and Japan, with a focus on promoting Canadian ICT expertise.  The delegation includes a number of business leaders from Canada’s ICT sector.

“There are numerous examples of how the Government of China uses sophisticated communications technology to identify and arrest human rights activists in Tibet” said Carole Samdup, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. “Canada has an obligation to ensure that Canadian exports do not undermine the efforts of Tibetans to monitor and report human rights violations.”

The situation in Tibet is particularly sensitive at the moment as the number of confirmed self-immolation protests has reached at least 115.   Chinese authorities have reacted to the continuing trend by destroying communications equipment used to send information to monitoring organizations outside Tibet, and by increasing electronic surveillance of cell phone and Internet activity in Tibet.

The Canada Tibet Committee does not object to trade with China.  It recommends, however, that the Government of Canada carry out due diligence, particularly in sensitive economic sectors such as ICTs.  Canada has a duty to avoid inadvertently contributing to the security apparatus of an authoritarian state with a long-standing record of human rights violations.


Selected examples of reports documenting how ICTs undermine human rights in Tibet:

1.       Alarming new surveillance, security in Tibet:  Human Rights Watch 2013.

2.       Satellite clampdown in Malho, Radio Free Asia, 2013:

3.       Android Trojan Found in Targeted Attack, Kapersky Lab, 2013

4.       Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a cyber-espionage network, University of Toronto, 2009:

5.       Tracking Dissent on the High Plateau:  Communications technology on the Gormo-Lhasa railway (in “Human Rights Impact Assessments for Foreign Investment Projects”, p.59-80). Rights & Democracy, 2007:


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