Stop poisonous prejudice against Canadians of Chinese descent

Sigh. The inability, deliberate or not, to recognize that legitimate criticism of Chinese regime policies and practices is not anti-Chinese Canadians, by people who should know better is disappointing. And rather striking that none of the authors have strongly condemned publicly Chinese government repression of Uighurs or Hong Kong (Google search):
The rising tide of hatred against Asians is a matter of urgent concern and deserves to be condemned by all Canadians. In this context, we are especially perturbed by blatant personal attacks against prominent Canadians of Chinese origin who have soberly expressed views on China and Canada-China relations, as with the case of Senator Yuen Pau Woo. As Canadian academics and China experts, we deeply value freedom of opinion. However some public commentators have gone well beyond debating the issues and descended to distorted and racially tainted xenophobic slurs that not only further poison the discourse on China and Canada-China relations, but give rise to unalloyed McCarthyism in a contemporary racialized form. News reports and commentary distorted what Senator Woo actually said. His Senate speech on the genocide resolution never whitewashed Beijing, nor did it draw equivalence between Canada’s current contrition over residential schools and the treatment of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Instead, Senator Woo rued the day when Chinese, like Canadians, may come to realize the damage caused by their own policies in Xinjiang. In his response to news reports and biased attacks, Senator Woo rightly pointed out how the public had been misled about his views. More egregiously, critics, in particular Derek Burney, Canada’s former ambassador to Washington, singled out Senator Woo’s immigrant background and lashed out at him for “living in the wrong country” simply because Senator Woo dared to express views on China different from his own. Other critics of China have darkly insinuated about ‘captured elites’ with respect to Canadians who express views on China different from their own. To these Sinophobic forces, denouncing China and its government is now a litmus test of loyalty for every bona fide Canadian. There are no second class Canadians, and those who would insinuate that have a whiff of the dark days of “Oriental Exclusion” and the Head Tax. Further, Senator Woo is an acknowledged China expert and former president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. His reasoned, balanced and moderate views on China, always with Canada’s best interests in sight, are well respected in the academic and policy community. During his many years of leadership, APF produced excellent analyses of China and the Asia Pacific region to assist decision-making by Canadian governments, corporations, and other institutions. But in those prejudiced mind, Senator Woo’s position is reduced to his Chinese ethnicity and none of these stellar professional qualifications therefore matter. The logic behind the vicious call for Senator Woo to resign from the Senate and register as a Chinese government lobbyist suggests that anyone having a different opinion on China than a particular group’s must not be allowed to hold a post in Canada, be it a Senator, or an academic, or whatever job they hold. This is more than dangerous. Our questions are: What is their agenda? What is the purpose of questioning the loyalty of Canadians? Is it to railroad Canadians of Chinese origin out of public life if they demur with the demonization of China? It is sad to see that our society is forging a toxic environment of discourse on China, with racist innuendo lurking just beneath the surface. This attack is part of a broader distortion effort. Thirty-three Senators voted against the Senate motion labelling current Chinese policy in Xinjiang as genocide. Most media reports used a particular phrase to report Senator Woo’s speech as “echoing the argument by Chinese officials,” which implies either Senator Woo was speaking for the Chinese government, or he is simply not able to form his own opinions. No such insinuation was made when Senator Peter Harder expressed similar views in his speech against the motion. No wonder anti-Asian hate crimes are rising in this country. When prominent Canadians express intolerant views, the result at the street level is to attack those who look Asian as communist China sympathizers or even agents. This is unworthy of our liberal and multicultural heritage and moreover is deeply misguided, as it both apes Stalinist tropes targeting dissent as disloyalty and seeks to discredit those who have expertise on China at a time when the challenges of dealing with a powerful China have made such expertise more important than ever. How to characterize the ongoing repressive policies in Xinjiang is beyond the point here. Senator Woo, and for that matter, any Canadian has the right to express their views about Xinjiang without being subjected to deliberate personal attack. We call on everyone, especially his Senate colleagues, who may or may not agree with his views, to support Senator Woo against such a character assassination. Jeremy Paltiel is professor of political science at Carleton University. Daniel A Bell is Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University in China. Xiaobei Chen is professor of sociology at Carleton University. Wenran Jiang is retired political science professor and founding director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta.
Source: Stop poisonous prejudice against Canadians of Chinese descent And in the China Daily:
A professor at one of Canada’s major universities has written a column for a state-run newspaper in China in which she defends Beijing’s record on ethnic minorities such as the Uyghurs and argues Canadians are being thoughtless and self-righteous in accusing the Chinese government of genocide in Xinjiang. Yuezhi Zhao holds the Canada Research Chair in Political Economy of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University. Her column, titled Canada Should Reflect On Its Struggle With Racism and dated July 29, ran in China Daily. The Beijing-based English-language media outlet describes itself as a government agency on LinkedIn, and it is a central fixture of the Chinese government’s efforts to disseminate its views abroad. The Chinese government has come under intense criticism for its repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. It has rejected calls for an independent investigation into documented reports of abuses, including torture, forced sterilization, forced abortions and involuntary separation of children from their parents. The Canadian, British, Dutch and Lithuanian parliaments, among others, have this year passed motions declaring China’s abuse of Muslim minorities to constitute genocide. Chinese officials have acknowledged that the birth rate across Xinjiang fell by nearly a third in 2018. Prof. Zhao says in her China Daily column that people should consider how the population of Uyghurs has flourished over the long term, particularly since the Chinese Communist Party took power more than 70 years ago. “Contrary to the genocidal decline of the aboriginal population in North America over the past 500 years, minority populations such as Tibetans and Uyghurs [in China] have grown significantly, and that has especially been the case since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949,” she writes. Prof. Zhao also takes aim at what she calls the “moral high ground that Canadian politicians have assumed in critiquing the Chinese state.” The Chinese government in June locked horns with the Canadian government after Canada led more than 40 countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council in expressing “grave concerns” over China’s conduct in Xinjiang. In response, Beijing confronted Canada about its own mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and the discovery of what appeared to be the remains of more than 200 children at a former residential school in Kamloops. China countered the Canadian criticism by calling for a “thorough and impartial investigation” into crimes against Indigenous peoples, which it said were instigated by racism and xenophobia in Canada. In a similar vein, Prof. Zhao accuses Canada of genocide, saying “the genocide of the aboriginal population has been at the very core of the founding of Canada.” She argues Canadians are mistakenly assuming that Beijing is trying to assimilate the Uyghurs. “When Canadian politicians, media outlets and scholars attack China for alleged human rights abuses, especially when they accuse China of genocidal treatment of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, we are witnessing the same unreflective application to China of a home-based paradigm based on the genocidal assimilation of aboriginal people,” she writes. She contrasts the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1 with “disbelief and shock” in Canada at historical mistreatment of Indigenous children at residential schools. The Communist Party, she writes, “despite all the trials and tribulations, even grave mistakes, is in a position to tell the proud history of national liberation, a history in which the Chinese nation overthrew the ‘three mountains’ of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism.” Prof. Zhao could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Simon Fraser University, Melissa Shaw, said “all faculty members have the right to academic freedom” when asked to comment on Prof. Zhao’s column. Mehmet Tohti, a Uyghur-Canadian and executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, said he’s shocked to hear the long-term increase in the Uyghur population since 1949 invoked as a counterargument to concern over Xinjiang. He said it’s rare to hear this kind of argument from Canada’s academic ranks, and that dismissing criticism of China’s record in Xinjiang ignores the “concentration camps and the massive internment of people and the forced labour” of recent years. Mr. Tohti said that, as a Uyghur-Canadian, he found it disappointing to hear “whataboutism” arguments that redirect debate over China’s current mistreatment of Uyghurs to past wrongs committed by Canada. He said it would make sense for China to establish an independent truth and reconciliation commission for Xinjiang. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran for more than six years until 2015, documented the history and effect of the residential school system on Indigenous students and their families. David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said while residential schools were part of a “cruel and deeply flawed policy,” any comparison with what China is doing in Xinjiang is “almost certainly designed to diminish awareness of Beijing’s vast, ambitious and technologically sophisticated destruction of a people and a culture.” Darren Byler, an assistant professor with the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser, and an expert in China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, said that for more than 70 years Beijing has sought to transform Xinjiang into an “internal settler colony” by transferring the Han Chinese ethnic majority into the region. “Over the past four years, this process has dramatically intensified with the implementation of a widespread residential boarding school system, where Uyghur and Kazakh children are instructed in Chinese and not permitted to practice their faith traditions,” he said. “A mass incarceration and internment system has resulted in 533,000 criminal prosecutions and the internment of hundreds of thousands more who have been deemed untrustworthy,” he added. “Because genocidal violence is just now emergent in China, it is particularly crucial that people of conscience demand that it be stopped.”
Source: https://trk.cp20.com/click/e7a4-2fd515-c1xqj1-7qf243g8/pmreg33oorqwg5boivugc43iei5cejjsijkhqolri52xqq2ghfjekvjwnnhgyzdki5fhi4cwkvdusvscgnmse7i%3D

Climate Change Is Not a Reason to Give China a Pass on Human Rights

Indeed:

In a widely-publicized July 8 letter, four dozen American advocacy groups—including the Sunrise Movement and the Union of Concerned Scientists—demanded that President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats reverse their “antagonistic posture” in favor of a more cooperative relationship with Beijing to “combat the climate crisis.” The signatories also attempted to frame the current administration’s China approach as a surrender to pressure on the right that’s counterproductive to global governance as well as responsible for xenophobia against individuals of East and Southeast Asian descent, and therefore “doing nothing to actually support the wellbeing of everyday people in either China or the United States.”

Alas, they seem oblivious to realities on the ground for those of us who live in the shadow of Chinese Communist Party hegemony. It’s not “progressive” to ignore a regime that opposesmulticulturalism, weakens  trade unions, regulates women’s choices through centralized population control, persecutes the LGBTQ+ community, militarizes international waters, and incarcerates ethnic minorities in concentration camps. Without shared values, solidarity is impossible.

Make no mistake: climate change is indeed an urgent, existential danger. Amid the record-breaking heatwave sweeping across the Pacific Northwest and floods that pummeled cities on the East Coast, China, too, is hit with extreme weather patterns, even as the government is more than happy to downplay that. A proposed “shift from competition to cooperation” at the state level would convey legitimacy and moral equivalence for Beijing. While the letter was correct to note that “climate change has no nationalistic solutions,” doesn’t appeasement of geopolitical expansion and well-documented atrocities precisely privilege the interests of nations over peoples?

Recent White House occupants, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama, all embraced China’s rise, often at the expense of genuine human-rights concerns there. The abandonment of Maoism in the late 1970s produced only materialism and inequality, not (as many pundits predicted) any other form of liberalization.  Serious champions of climate justice, rather than misdirect their anger at the long-overdue bipartisan unity against Chinese crimes against humanity, should offer realistic means for Beijing to change its atrocious behavior first.

This isn’t a matter of prioritizing human rights over climate change. Practically nothing in their record suggests that Chinese leaders have any intention of honoring their end of the bargain in binding, bilateral agreements. Look no further than the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and 1987 Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration on Macau, each of which promised these territories 50 years of political autonomy. Unfolding now in both, however, is the systematic dismantling of every pillar of free society, from press freedom and due process topeaceful protests and open elections. No wonder Human Rights Watch’s latest reportcharacterized this as “the darkest period for human rights in China since the 1989 massacre.”

The moral grandstanding behind opposing a so-called new Cold War—as if current tensions were solely the result of U.S. actions—fails to acknowledge that Beijing is capable of perpetuating imperialism in its own right. One case in point is the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive program of investments and infrastructure projects abroad. Designed to overcome China’s own overproduction dilemma at a time of stagnating wages and inadequate domestic demand, it targets developing countries in the region with extraterritorial legal arrangements, debt-trap diplomacy, and, unsurprisingly, environmental exploitation.

We need to deal with China as it is, not as we wish it to be. Climate solutions should be based on transnational partnership, democratic engagement, and adherence to a rules-based world.
Beijing, to this day, refuses to own up to its mistakes in the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention its longstanding intellectual-property thievery and forced technology transfer. It’s also keen to export authoritarianism: threatening to invade Taiwan, supporting North Korea’s dictatorship, and shielding the coup d’état in Burma from condemnation.

To imagine this thuggish actor on the international stage—whose state-run media indulges in mocking Greta Thunberg—is somehow innocently waiting to advance a climate agenda (if only other countries would be nicer to it) is naive. Last year, it built more than triple the amount of new coal power capacity as the rest of the world combined and funded $474 million worth of coal-sector projects abroad. Thanks to its polluted megacities, it’s the single largest carbon-dioxide emitter that continues to increase at a higher rate despite already doubling that of the United States. Neither can we gloss over the solar panels made in Xinjiang using cheap coal-generated electricity and unfree Uyghur labor.

At the end of the day, granting Beijing blanket concessions and expecting positive outcomes constitute little more than wishful thinking. “We’re in a contest, not with China per se,” as Biden put it at the G-7 summit in England last month, “but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world.” Should Americans wish to lead, they must be willing to listen. The voices of the oppressed ought to matter more than any superpower; creating a more humane, habitable world begins with respecting everyone’s basic dignity.

Source: Climate Change Is Not a Reason to Give China a Pass on Human Rights

China slams Olympic boycott call, ‘politicization of sports’

The Special Committee on Canada-China Relations should stop making virtue signalling calls for the Olympics to be moved (won’t happen) and join the British parliamentary committee in calling for a boycott:

China on Thursday criticized what it called the “politicization of sports” after British lawmakers urged a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics unless China allows an investigation of complaints of human rights abuses in its northwest.

A boycott “will not succeed,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

The British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called for the government to urge British companies to boycott the Beijing Games, scheduled for February. The appeal adds to pressure on China’s ruling Communist Party over reports of mass detentions and other abuses of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

“China firmly opposes the politicization of sports and the interference in other countries’ internal affairs by using human rights issues as a pretext,” Wang said. “Attempts to disrupt, obstruct and sabotage the preparation and convening of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games out of political motivation have been met with strong opposition from all sectors of the international community.”

China, which rejects the accusations of abuses in Xinjiang, has denied the United Nations unfettered access to the region to investigate the claims.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/china-slams-olympic-boycott-call-politicization-sports-78731310

China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Harder should know better than to apply such relativism. Bob Rae provides the example: China ‘attempting to defend the indefensible’ in Xinjiang: Bob …YouTube · CBC NewsMar. 30, 2021:

The Trudeau government’s former representative in the Senate says a proposed motion in the Red Chamber to condemn China’s treatment of ethnic Muslim minorities as genocide smacks of “moral superiority and self-righteousness,” given Canada’s past conduct toward Indigenous people including in residential schools.

Senator Peter Harder, a former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs who later headed the Canada-China Business Council, recently spoke in the Senate to oppose a motion that would say the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims fits the United Nations’ definition of genocide. A similar motion has already passed the Commons, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from voting.

Activists and UN experts have said a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been subject to mass detention in Xinjiang. China denies abuses and says the centres provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism in the remote western region. Reports have emerged about Beijing’s success in slashing the birth rate of Uyghurs and other minorities through mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control.

Senate motion No. 79, which has not yet been put to a vote, notes that two successive U.S. administrations have labelled China’s behaviour as genocide. It also proposes calling upon the International Olympic Committee to deny Beijing the 2022 Winter Olympics by relocating the Games to another country “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”

The Dutch, British and Lithuanian parliaments have in recent months adopted similar motions recognizing the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide.

Mr. Harder, however, urged fellow senators to consider Canada’s conduct toward Indigenous people before they vote.

He noted that the debate is occurring after “the tragic discovery” of unmarked graves containing the remains of 215 children and “adds to the indictment of our centuries-long practice of residential schools, forced sterilization and what the former chief justice of Canada described as cultural genocide of our Indigenous peoples,” the senator said.

“This horrifying reality of our history stands in rather cynical contrast to the tone of moral superiority and self-righteousness contained in the motion before us tonight.”

The former Trump administration declared the repression of the Uyghurs to be genocide and U.S. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said he concurs with that assessment. In addition, a March, 2021 State Department report on human rights issued under the Biden administration declares that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during [2020] against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Mr. Harder, speaking to the Senate motion late last week, said this is not the way to engage with China.

“We should get off our high horse and seek to engage more appropriately, not bellicosely and belligerently, with countries – not just China, but countries that we need to engage.”

Ottawa has already joined with the U.S., Britain and the European Union in imposing sanctions on several Chinese government officials for “gross and systematic human-rights violations” against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other largely Muslims groups.

Senator Leo Housakos, the sponsor of motion No. 79, said that unlike China, Canada has acknowledged its atrocities. “China still doesn’t acknowledge what they are doing is ethnic cleansing.”

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Beijing’s use of technology to monitor, coerce and control a whole people is providing a how-to manual for other authoritarian powers to follow. “It’s writing the book on genocides of the future,” Mr. Mulroney said.

He said Canada’s shameful treatment of Indigenous people shouldn’t preclude Canadians from identifying and calling out misconduct elsewhere. “We call out the Uyghur genocide and question Beijing’s hosting of the Olympics not as a political statement but as a moral statement,” Mr. Mulroney said.

“Surely if we have learned anything as a country it is that you need to act swiftly against genocide anywhere.”

Mr. Harder also said he worried that the motion declaring China’s conduct to be genocide could jeopardize the treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians locked up by Beijing after Ottawa arrested a Huawei executive on a U.S. extradition request.

In addition, he cited concerns that it could also inflame anti-Asian violence in Canada and hurt Ottawa’s ability to find common cause with China in fighting climate change and building stronger global trading rules.

Asked for further comment, Mr. Harder said Monday that Canada should be humble. “It’s not that we lack moral authority as much as we should speak with humility and acknowledge our own historic (and recent) failings,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Regardless of the motivation of our governmental and church leaders at the time, history has shown that we were wrong.”

The Globe and Mail asked Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, for comment on whether he feels Canada’s conduct toward indigenous people – in particular, its record of residential schools – precludes Canadians from criticizing China. Chief Bellegarde’s office said that he was not able to respond Monday afternoon.

Source: China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Representatives of Chinese dissident groups reject Trudeau’s comments on racism

Of note and legitimate call-out given that criticism of the Chinese regime’s repression and other practices is not racist, just as criticism of Israeli government policies is not anti-semitic. But, as always, one has to be careful in wording to ensure the distinction is made clear:

Witnesses who appeared before the Commons special committee on Canada-China relations this week said they were troubled by comments Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made about racism — comments that left Conservatives fuming.

During a debate last Wednesday about the dismissal of two Chinese scientists from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Trudeau appeared to suggest that Conservative MPs were feeding anti-Asian sentiments by asking questions.

“I hope that my Conservative Party colleagues are not raising fears about Asian Canadians,” Trudeau told the Commons.

Three women appeared before the committee as representatives of Tibetan, Uyghur and Hong Kong pro-democracy groups. Two of the three said they had personally experienced hostility and abuse during a year that has seen a well-documented wave of anti-Asian racist violence across North America.

All three also warned against soft-pedalling criticism of the Chinese government, or throttling back on efforts to block Chinese state espionage, out of a fear of appearing racist.

“Folks who claim to be standing up against anti-Asian hatred and racism, please, listen to your constituents and Asian voices,” said Tibetan activist Chemi Lhamo, whose run for student president at the University of Toronto provoked hostility and threats from Chinese nationalists.

“As an Asian woman, there is a bigger target on my back, and conflating the idea of anti-CCP [Communist Party of China] with anti-Asian is actually a much bigger disrespect.”

“I think our prime minister is really confused,” said witness Rukiye Turdush of the Uyghur Research Institute. “If we’re against the CCP, it doesn’t mean we’re against the Chinese people. It has nothing to do with anti-Asian racism. I really didn’t get why he said that.”

Biosecurity, not diversity

The government has refused to explain in detail why Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were fired, and why Qiu in 2019 sent samples of Ebola and Henipah virus to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Source: Representatives of Chinese dissident groups reject Trudeau’s comments on racism

Ibbitson: Questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism, Prime Minister

Agree:

Last week, Conservative MP Candice Bergen asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau why scientists at the Winnipeg infectious-diseases laboratory had been collaborating with Chinese military scientists. Two Canadian scientists have been fired from the lab, so Ms. Bergen’s question was reasonable. Mr. Trudeau’s response was not.

“The rise in anti-Asian racism we have been seeing over the past number of months should be of concern to everyone,” Mr. Trudeau replied, from left field. “I would recommend that the members of the Conservative Party, in their zeal to make personal attacks, not start to push too far into intolerance toward Canadians of diverse origins.”

What a foolish thing to say.

No one can deny that Canada has a long and unhappy history of discriminating against immigrants from countries in conflict with ours. On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau extended a formal apology on behalf of the government and people of Canada for persecuting Italian Canadians during the Second World War. German Canadians endured discrimination as well. Worst of all, more than 20,000 Japanese Canadians were forced into internment camps, one of the darkest stains on this country’s history, for which Brian Mulroney apologized when he was prime minister.

Asian Canadians today are suffering racist insults and worse in the wake of a virus that spread from Wuhan, China, to Canada and the rest of the world. A report released in March detailed more than a thousand incidents of harassment and physical assault against Asian Canadians between March, 2020, and February, 2021.

But while we need to protect Asian minorities from hate, we also need to question this government’s willingness to co-operate with China despite its misdeeds. It is irresponsible to slander the opposition for doing its job in asking why scientists at the Winnipeg lab were co-operating with Chinese scientists, just as it was irresponsible for the government to allege racism back in the winter of 2020, when Conservatives asked why Ottawa had not imposed a travel ban on China amid reports of a dangerous new virus emanating from Wuhan.

“One of the interesting elements of the coronavirus outbreak has been the spread of misinformation and fear across Canadian society,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu warned on Feb. 3. The best way to prevent that spread, she added “might be if the opposition does not sensationalize the risk to Canadians.”

As late as March 5, as countries around the world imposed travel restrictions, Mr. Trudeau accused his critics of intolerance for questioning Canada’s wide-open borders. “There is a lot of misinformation out there, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe,” Mr. Trudeau said on March 5. “That is having real, challenging impacts on communities, on community safety.” Days later, Canada closed its borders to the world.

Some commentators allege that even suggesting the virus might have escaped from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan is a racist conspiracy theory. But President Joe Biden last week ordered the intelligence services to redouble their efforts to determine whether that happened.

We all need to fight racial intolerance toward Asian Canadians. But it is not racism to ask why this Liberal government still hasn’t banned, as other countries have, the use of Huawei technology in Canada’s 5G network, why it launched a failed effort to co-produce a COVID-19 vaccine with China, or why the Winnipeg lab was co-operating with the Chinese military.

China is a major power and economy. Dealing with that reality while also condemning its persecution of the Uyghur minority, its suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, its arbitrary imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig over an extradition dispute, its aggressive actions in the South China Sea and its threatening actions toward Taiwan is one of the biggest challenges in Canadian foreign policy. It’s the job of the opposition parties to scrutinize the government’s conduct as it executes that policy. Accusing the Conservatives of fomenting racism every time they ask a legitimate question about China does more to encourage intolerance than any question the Conservatives might ask.

“The Prime Minister conflated our legitimate concerns about national security with racism against Asian Canadians,” Conservative MP Nelly Shin told the House. “He spun an inflammatory narrative that implies Conservatives are stoking intolerance. By using this false narrative, he has cheapened and undermined the ongoing efforts to combat the rise of anti-Asian racism.”

Hear, hear.

Source: Questioning government policy on China is not fomenting racism, Prime Minister

New report details Beijing’s foreign influence operations in Canada

Of note:

China has set up a sophisticated network in this country to harass people of Chinese ethnicity and Uyghur- and Tibetan-Canadians, distort information in the media, influence politicians and form partnerships with universities to secure intellectual property, a new study says.

A report by Alliance Canada Hong Kong (ACHK) that was tabled on Monday evening at the special House of Commons committee on Canada-China relations warns that the influence operations by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are widespread, but have gone largely unnoticed. Alliance Canada Hong Kong is an umbrella group for Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates in this country.

“In Canada, individuals and groups are targeted by [Chinese] party state actors and Chinese nationalists, both directly and indirectly,” said the report titled In Plain Sight: Beijing’s Unrestricted Network of Foreign Influence in Canada. “Chinese authorities co-ordinate intimidation operations and use families who are in PRC-controlled regions as bargaining chips.”

Cherie Wong, executive director of ACHK, said the human-rights group is trying to draw attention to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) surveillance and intimidation without fanning the flames of xenophobia.

The report details how the United Front Work Department – the agency responsible for co-ordinating Beijing’s overseas influence operations – guides and controls an elaborate network of proxies and front organizations to intimidate and co-opt Chinese-Canadians as well as politicians, academics and business leaders.

“The United Front has created and mobilized shell groups, registered [non-governmental organizations] and civil societies in Canada. These groups are designed to mimic legitimate community programs …while aggressively spreading pro-Beijing messages and party lines, whether in praising Hong Kong’s national security law or condemning dissent against the Beijing Olympics.”

Harassment and intimidation campaigns are organized by United Front-affiliated community groups, and misinformation is directed from WeChat and Chinese-language media against Uyghurs, Tibetans, Taiwanese, pro-democracy Hong Kongers and dissidents from mainland China, the report said.

“WeChat is among the top news sources for Chinese-Canadians, and social media apps may be the single most effective and concerning factor in the CCP’s arsenal over Canadian-Chinese language media, simply for the PRC’s direct ability to censor and monitor WeChat, Weibo, Youku, TikTok [Douyin] and other Chinese media entities.”

The report said Canadian universities and research institutions are especially vulnerable to foreign influence, citing Chinese-funded Confucius Institutes that spout Beijing propaganda, and partnerships with Canadian academics to obtain intellectual property.

“Various Canadian universities are known to collaborate with potentially compromising entities like the People’s Liberation Army,” the report said, noting that many academics don’t understand China’s efforts to blur the line between civilian and military research.

Alberta recently ordered its four major universities to suspend the pursuit of partnerships with people or organizations linked to Beijing or the Chinese Communist Party, citing concerns over national security and the risk the research could be used to facilitate human-rights abuses. The order came after The Globe and Mail reported on the University of Alberta’s extensive scientific collaboration with China that involves sharing and transferring research in strategically important areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

The report by Ms. Wong’s group also warned about Chinese foreign influence operations that attempt to win over politicians and business leaders through all-expense-paid trips and lucrative investment projects. WeChat is often used to mobilize volunteers and donations for politicians who are sympathetic to Beijing’s interests, the report added.

“Though the majority of these operations are not considered criminal or direct threats to national security, these patterns of behaviour are inappropriate and should be disclosed to the public,” the report said.

Ms. Wong told the committee these influence operations will continue until the federal government takes the kind of actions to limit them that the United States and Australia have adopted, and stops worrying about angering Beijing.

She called for an Australian-style law that requires people and organizations acting on behalf of a foreign state to register as foreign agents. A government agency on foreign influence should be established with powers to investigate and enforce the law as well as initiate public inquiries and collect data on foreign influence.

Ms. Wong said Ottawa should also ban Canadian innovative research from being shared with the military and security apparatus of hostile states, such as China. Restrictions should also be placed on sharing Canadian data and private information that could be exploited by China.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-new-report-details-beijings-foreign-influence-operations-in-canada/

AI emotion-detection software tested on Uyghurs

The police state becomes even more sophisticated:

A camera system that uses AI and facial recognition intended to reveal states of emotion has been tested on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the BBC has been told.

A software engineer claimed to have installed such systems in police stations in the province.

A human rights advocate who was shown the evidence described it as shocking.

The Chinese embassy in London has not responded directly to the claims but says political and social rights in all ethnic groups are guaranteed.

Xinjiang is home to 12 million ethnic minority Uyghurs, most of whom are Muslim.

Citizens in the province are under daily surveillance. The area is also home to highly controversial “re-education centres”, called high security detention camps by human rights groups, where it is estimated that more than a million people have been held. 

Beijing has always argued that surveillance is necessary in the region because it says separatists who want to set up their own state have killed hundreds of people in terror attacks.

The software engineer agreed to talk to the BBC’s Panorama programme under condition of anonymity, because he fears for his safety. The company he worked for is also not being revealed. 

But he showed Panorama five photographs of Uyghur detainees who he claimed had had the emotion recognition system tested on them.

Pie-chart
image captionData from the system purports to indicate a person’s state of mind, with red suggesting a negative or anxious state of mind

“The Chinese government use Uyghurs as test subjects for various experiments just like rats are used in laboratories,” he said.

And he outlined his role in installing the cameras in police stations in the province: “We placed the emotion detection camera 3m from the subject. It is similar to a lie detector but far more advanced technology.”

He said officers used “restraint chairs” which are widely installed in police stations across China.

“Your wrists are locked in place by metal restraints, and [the] same applies to your ankles.”

He provided evidence of how the AI system is trained to detect and analyse even minute changes in facial expressions and skin pores.

According to his claims, the software creates a pie chart, with the red segment representing a negative or anxious state of mind.

He claimed the software was intended for “pre-judgement without any credible evidence”.

The Chinese embassy in London did not respond to questions about the use of emotional recognition software in the province but said: “The political, economic, and social rights and freedom of religious belief in all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are fully guaranteed.

“People live in harmony regardless of their ethnic backgrounds and enjoy a stable and peaceful life with no restriction to personal freedom.”

The evidence was shown to Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch.

“It is shocking material. It’s not just that people are being reduced to a pie chart, it’s people who are in highly coercive circumstances, under enormous pressure, being understandably nervous and that’s taken as an indication of guilt, and I think, that’s deeply problematic.”

Suspicious behaviour

According to Darren Byler, from the University of Colorado, Uyghurs routinely have to provide DNA samples to local officials, undergo digital scans and most have to download a government phone app, which gathers data including contact lists and text messages.

“Uyghur life is now about generating data,” he said.

“Everyone knows that the smartphone is something you have to carry with you, and if you don’t carry it you can be detained, they know that you’re being tracked by it. And they feel like there’s no escape,” he said.

Most of the data is fed into a computer system called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform, which Human Rights Watch claims flags up supposedly suspicious behaviour.

“The system is gathering information about dozens of different kinds of perfectly legal behaviours including things like whether people were going out the back door instead of the front door, whether they were putting gas in a car that didn’t belong to them,” said Ms Richardson.

“Authorities now place QR codes outside the doors of people’s homes so that they can easily know who’s supposed to be there and who’s not.”

Orwellian?

There has long been debate about how closely tied Chinese technology firms are to the state. US-based research group IPVM claims to have uncovered evidence in patents filed by such companies that suggest facial recognition products were specifically designed to identify Uyghur people.

A patent filed in July 2018 by Huawei and the China Academy of Sciences describes a face recognition product that is capable of identifying people on the basis of their ethnicity.

Huawei said in response that it did “not condone the use of technology to discriminate or oppress members of any community” and that it was “independent of government” wherever it operated.

The group has also found a document which appears to suggest the firm was developing technology for a so-called One Person, One File system.

“For each person the government would store their personal information, their political activities, relationships… anything that might give you insight into how that person would behave and what kind of a threat they might pose,” said IPVM’s Conor Healy.

“It makes any kind of dissidence potentially impossible and creates true predictability for the government in the behaviour of their citizens. I don’t think that [George] Orwell would ever have imagined that a government could be capable of this kind of analysis.”

Huawei did not specifically address questions about its involvement in developing technology for the One Person, One File system but said: “Huawei opposes discrimination of all types, including the use of technology to carry out ethnic discrimination. 

“As a privately-held company, Huawei is independent of government wherever we operate. We do not condone the use of technology to discriminate against or oppress members of any community.”

The Chinese embassy in London said it had “no knowledge” of these programmes.

IPVM also claimed to have found marketing material from Chinese firm Hikvision advertising a Uyghur-detecting AI camera, and a patent for software developed by Dahua, another tech giant, which could also identify Uyghurs.

Dahua said its patent referred to all 56 recognised ethnicities in China and did not deliberately target any one of them.

It added that it provided “products and services that aim to help keep people safe” and complied “with the laws and regulations of every market” in which it operates, including the UK.

Hikvision said the details on its website were incorrect and “uploaded online without appropriate review”, adding that it did not sell or have in its product range “a minority recognition function or analytics technology”.

Dr Lan Xue, chairman of China’s National committee on AI governance, said he was not aware of the patents.

“Outside China there are a lot of those sorts of charges. Many are not accurate and not true,” he told the BBC.

“I think that the Xinjiang local government had the responsibility to really protect the Xinjiang people… if technology is used in those contexts, that’s quite understandable,” he said.

The UK’s Chinese embassy had a more robust defence, telling the BBC: “There is no so-called facial recognition technology featuring Uyghur analytics whatsoever.”

Daily surveillance

China is estimated to be home to half of the world’s almost 800 million surveillance cameras.

It also has a large number of smart cities, such as Chongqing, where AI is built into the foundations of the urban environment.

Chongqing-based investigative journalist Hu Liu told Panorama of his own experience: “Once you leave home and step into the lift, you are captured by a camera. There are cameras everywhere.”

“When I leave home to go somewhere, I call a taxi, the taxi company uploads the data to the government. I may then go to a cafe to meet a few friends and the authorities know my location through the camera in the cafe.

“There have been occasions when I have met some friends and soon after someone from the government contacts me. They warned me, ‘Don’t see that person, don’t do this and that.’

“With artificial intelligence we have nowhere to hide,” he said.

Source: http://click.revue.email/ss/c/XN2t88CAhalHja1RClwc6qsMgajWENlC9NZ1PWkAxfUzsgvZ2xjHTcAWJ2cLn-CdGZ0w_l7nnLcmMcVvmrkgMPKVaGyxQ7qZd71KSFybXPcUwFWKhwn0TtRR5hrfXMiGHmYN4Eb9iUB3URfKHjAcvp13foBYRb9l4moXoJKWITWllHNy8OXBOqTw4hzOVQ2FIU2CUmVhsxPu4XO74CTZz6IKyaJMYsCaauAXVlq0oZRL_b8NE62A-QYF2YbBNLbZZfopy2X10K3tSngIuQL5-ttL1jFJoCUfFfhj8u3XdxY/3ca/RUjBl06WSoimqdFfA2J_Bw/h41/p167_E3Thw2-rkj2w7e66SMP4kkoUGB6qZwW0QaBUXU

Burton: Time for transparency in China’s dealings with Canadian universities

Indeed:

Canada’s free society is based on cultural expectations of reciprocal fairness and goodwill in our dealings with fellow citizens. This is what makes Canada a great place to live, and so attractive to immigrants. But our trusting nature is also vulnerable to being exploited by foreign actors with agendas that threaten our security and sovereignty.

In the case of China, its intricate manipulation practices have had enormous success in transferring research data from Canadian universities in strategically sensitive areas that serve PRC purposes. According to former CSIS director Richard Fadden, these areas include avionics, space technology, nuclear science and high-level optics research.

The fact is, China’s interference and espionage activities are hiding in plain sight in our open institutions. We need transparency about what these activities comprise, which Canadians are receiving benefits from agents of foreign states, and what form these benefits take.

Recent and troubling media reports reveal that, in 2018, the China Institute at the University of Alberta accepted a major donation from Hong Kong-based billionaire Jonathan Koon-Shum Choi, but refuses to disclose the size of Mr. Choi’s gift, the purposes to which the money has been allocated, and who are the de facto beneficiaries of this largesse.

Choi is a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), whose main mission is to gain outside support for Beijing’s political agenda.

As the U of A is a public institution, surely Alberta taxpayers deserve transparency regarding any money that supports or influences the university’s research.

Under an agreement with China’s Minister of Science and Technology, U of A researchers have had access to at least 50 state labs in China since 2005, while upward of 60 professors have received funding for more than 90 joint projects with state and national labs in China. Likewise, at the University of British Columbia, more than 300 professors have significant professional interest in China, and faculty have partnerships with over 100 Chinese institutions.

But agreements through China’s Ministry of Science and Technology are not like those with partners in democratic societies. These are not simply benign, mutually beneficial collaborations between autonomous scholars seeking to expand the frontiers of science and human understanding, as much as the UFWD would have us believe.

In China, professors are cadre-ranked state employees, their research dictated by the state ministries to which their universities and labs are subordinate. Their ultimate goal is to advance the Chinese Communist Party’s five-year plans for domestic development and global geo-strategic advantage.

China would not be funding Canadian researchers if there were no ability to access the data which the professors generate. This is about obtaining information or intellectual property that could serve the PRC’s economic and military objectives. Indeed, some Canadian participants over the long term appear to derive significant Chinese income streams beyond their university salaries, through lucrative PRC-associated board appointments and commercial inducements.

The money is an effective device. Chinese grants help Canadians pursue research projects that might not have been so well funded by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. The profs gain prestige from undertaking work in important and sensitive areas, enjoy wonderful hospitality in China, and benefit from considerable talented Chinese research assistance — providing they hand over their work to the Chinese state to develop. The strategy spends years cultivating a Canadian target, with the recipients often not fully aware of what they’re getting themselves into.

It is reassuring that Alberta government officials have promised to protect Canada’s national interest by curtailing U of A collaborations with China in strategically sensitive science and technology, but will Ottawa initiate federal legislation such as requiring transparency in reporting of foreign sources of income? There is a powerful pro-PRC lobby in Ottawa, mostly retired politicians who are on China-related boards, including Canadian companies and law firms that benefit from the PRC. In taking China’s money, they are expected to support the interests of the PRC in Canada in return.

Beijing seems confident that, once Canadian public outrage fades over the latest reports of China’s shameless flouting of the norms of international relations, the Canadians on the PRC gravy train will resume quietly lobbying for Ottawa’s restraint in any new measures. This United Front work is a sophisticated engagement of Canada, and the PRC always seems to end up on top.

Charles Burton is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, and non-resident senior fellow of the European Values Center for Security Policy in Prague. He is a former professor of political science at Brock University, and served as a diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Beijing.

Source: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-time-for-transparency-in-chinas-dealings-with-canadian-universities/wcm/d6768c22-f35e-4eea-849c-8b41e2bf4191

Kheiriddin: Boycotting Beijing 2022 may not change China, but it will spoil its glory

Of note and agree:

As the countdown continues to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, human rights groups called this week for a full-blown boycott, given accusations of China committing genocide against its minority Uyghur Muslim population and its recent suppression of basic freedoms in Hong Kong.

According to a coalition that includes Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong residents, “The time for talking with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is over.” The statement comes the same week that the U.S. Congress is holding hearings on the issue, and days after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said boycotts are ineffective and only hurt athletes.

Source: Boycotting Beijing 2022 may not change China, but it will spoil its glory