Winnipeg to continue sister-city relationship with Chengdu, China

The City of Winnipeg will continue its sister-city relationship with Chengdu, China, with the Mayor saying this relationship is not the same as supporting the Chinese government.

Councillor Russ Wyatt (Transcona) had pitched the motion, calling on the city to ‘immediately terminate’ its relationship with its Chinese sister city over what he called ongoing human rights issues.

“The world has completely shifted since the days of the creation of our sister city of Chengdu,” Wyatt told councillors during Thursday’s city council meeting.

“I just don’t want to see us in a situation where events take place, as events have been occurring there, that embarrass us as a city for having a sister city in a country that is committing human rights abuses.”

Wyatt pointed to the 2021 vote in Parliament in which MPs voted to label China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslims a genocide.

READ MORE: MPs pass motion declaring genocide against Uyghurs in China, despite cabinet abstentions

Wyatt called on his fellow councillors to, “think globally but act locally.”

“It’s all about signals,” he said, saying this motion would be a signal to those fighting for human rights within China that Winnipeg stands with them.

“I stand with citizens of the Chinese community of this city who believe in democracy and human rights, and that the abuses taking place in China are absolutely outrageous.”

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham was opposed to the motion, saying he has heard from members of Winnipeg’s Chinese community very concerned about the potential move, citing the importance of the relationship.

“Maintaining our sister-city relationship with Chengdu, China, is not the same as supporting (the) national policy of the Chinese government or any human rights violations that may be occurring in that country,” Gillingham said.

Wyatt responded, saying the motion to end the sister-city relationship is directed towards the Chinese government, and not the Chinese citizens.

Wyatt pushed to have the motion referred for further discussion at the Executive Policy Committee. However, a majority of council voted against it, opting instead to receive the motion as information only.

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