Multiple Canadian pension plans have invested in firms complicit in Xinjiang abuses, alleges a report by UK-based human rights organization Hong Kong Watch and expert in forced labour, Prof Laura Murphy at Sheffield Hallam University.
At least three federal and six provincial pension funds in Canada are investing in Chinese companies complicit in human rights abuses in Xinjiang, reported Toronto Star.
Pension funds in a number of western countries have also invested in companies involved in a Chinese government labour transfer programme accused of subjecting the country's Uyghur minority to forced labour or internment. "Lawmakers and government officials must urgently consider how it could be morally defensible for federal employees' pensions to be passively invested in companies complicit in gross human rights violations in the Uyghur Region," argues the report, released Monday.
The report, titled "Passively Funding Crimes Against Humanity: How Your Savings May Be Financing Internment Camps and Forced Labor in China," alleged Canadian funds are exposed to varying degrees, reported Toronto Star. The report analyzed component stocks from three major global indexes, which are investment funds made up of a number of stocks run by the investment management firm Morgan Stanley.
Analysts said that six of 12 companies listed on Morgan Stanley's China index have been involved in constructing internment camps and six have been involved in labour transfers, reported Toronto Star. Seven of 13 companies on the emerging markets index have used labour drawn from China's state-sponsored labour transfer programs with six involved in camp construction, the report alleged.
Out of four companies on the All-Country World Index ex-US, two are alleged to have obtained labour from such labour-transfer programs and two are alleged to have been involved in camp construction, reported Toronto Star. The report says the Canada Pension Plan is exposed to seven companies accused of using forced labour and six complicit in building repressive infrastructure.
But the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board's senior managing director of public affairs, Michel Leduc, rejected those allegations. Leduc said the board has a rigorous process to vet companies in which it invests for human rights abuses and that companies listed in the report are not part of the plan's foreign holdings, reported Toronto Star.
The Royal Bank, Civil Service Superannuation Board (CSSB) and Public Sector Investment Board (PSIB) are also alleged in the report to have exposure specifically to labour transfers or infrastructure used to oppress Uyghurs. Beijing has been under scrutiny in recent years for the treatment of its Uyghur and other ethnic minorities, the majority of whom live in the western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Allegations of forced labour, physical and sexual abuse and indoctrination have been raised repeatedly.
However, China has insisted its camps are part of vocational training centres. A United Nations report over the summer accused China of "serious human rights violations" in Xinjiang. In early 2021, Canada's Parliament declared the treatment of minorities a "genocide" in a motion during which some government members abstained from voting.
Image courtesy: Representative image/ANI