Liberals must demand probe into any China election meddling


But I would hope that we will also get some insight from academics and community members other factors that may also have played a role. A question I have is whether a weaker CPC position on masking and vaccines may have also contributed, given Chinese Canadians, judging by Richmond numbers, were less averse to COVID restrictions than some other groups:

It’s a common trope that foreign policy is never a ballot question. As riled up as Canadians got about Afghanistan in our recent election, research showed it had little impact on the choices they ultimately made. Bread and butter issues like childcare or concerns about climate change mattered more than how well the prime minister performed — or did not perform — on the world stage.

Or did it? There is growing evidence that for some voters, foreign matters played a key role, not due to personal preference, but foreign interference. And that interference had a direct impact on votes, seat count, and the shape of the 44th Parliament.

Source: Liberals must demand probe into any China election meddling

Defeated Conservative MP fears attacks by pro-Beijing forces swung votes against him 

I was less surprised by Chiu’s defeat given that the riding has a recent history of flipping than Alice Wong’s defeat after holding the seat since 2008. Agree with Burton that an investigation would be helpful to assess the impact compared to other factors (e.g., did vaccine and masking mandates have an impact given some CPC mixed messaging):

When Kenny Chiu introduced a private member’s bill that would set up a registry for agents of foreign governments, he may well have painted a target on his back.

The bill was inspired largely by China’s suspected interference in Canada and the B.C. Conservative says he was attacked over it in Chinese-language media throughout the election.

Some of the bashing bled into mainstream social media, with one poster on Twitter this week saying “I’ve never seen a more self-hating Chinese person in my life.”

Much of the criticism, Chiu says, misrepresented what that legislation really stated, but it had its effect.

Constituents in his Steveston-Richmond East riding who had previously voted for Chiu suddenly gave him the cold shoulder.

“When I go door knocking … there have been supporters of mine who just shut the door in my face,” said the politician. “There is so much hatred that I sense.”

And then on Monday, Chiu lost to Liberal Parm Bains by almost 3,000 votes, just two years after he was first elected, even as the Liberals more or less duplicated their 2019 performance.

His defeat — and that of other Conservative MPs in ridings dominated by Chinese Canadians, – has raised the question of whether proxies for the People’s Republic government managed to influence the election – just as security agencies and other watchdogs have warned could happen.

Chiu stresses that his issue is with China’s regime, but said online critics implied that meant he was opposed to the country itself and even the race, despite his own Chinese heritage.

He said Chinese-Canadians — even if they ended up disliking him – are victims themselves of such disinformation.

Charles Burton, a former diplomat in Beijing who’s fluent in Mandarin, said he tried to help Chiu by seeking out and warning him about disinformation on WeChat, the popular Chinese social media site, and elsewhere online.

But there seemed little they could do about it.

“It spread like a cancer over his campaign,” said Burton, a fellow with the Macdonald Laurier Institute and prominent critic of Beijing. “He just saw his campaign disintegrating over the last couple of weeks.”

Burton said Canadian authorities should investigate the online campaigns to determine if the Chinese government itself was behind the attacks.

He is not the first to raise the issue. David Vigneault, head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said in a speech in February that attempts by foreign states to influence Canadian politics and politicians were among the agency’s “most paramount concerns.”

Bains could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and there is no suggestion he had anything to do with the online sniping Chiu faced.

In fact, the Liberals themselves have been the target of harsh attacks from the Chinese government and state-run media in the ongoing feud over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

It spread like a cancer over his campaign

But there was evidence that China’s focus turned during the election to the Conservatives, whose platform outlined a multi-pronged approach to confronting Beijing. That included barring Huawei from 5G networks, imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions on Chinese rights violators and advising universities against partnering with state-owned companies.

The Liberal platform made a brief mention of measures to combat “illegal and unacceptable behaviour by authoritarian states,” singling out China, Iran and Russia.

In what appeared to be a comment on the Conservative blueprint, Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu told the Hill Times newspaper in August that China opposes politicians who “hype” or “smear” the country. Then barely a week before election day, the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times ran a story blasting the Tories’ policies, predicting that if the party were elected China would launch a “strong counterstrike” against Canada.

Michael Chan, a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister who has spoken in defence of Beijing, wrote in a recent Chinese-language column that implementing the Conservative policies could trigger hatred and discrimination against Chinese people.

It’s impossible at this point to determine what factors caused results in individual ridings, but Chiu was not the only Conservative incumbent to be defeated in seats with large Chinese-Canadian populations, people exposed to such ethnic-Chinese media.

Though not all the votes had been counted Tuesday, Alice Wong appeared headed for defeat in Richmond Centre, next to Chiu’s riding, despite having held the seat through four previous elections.

Bob Saroya lost the Toronto-area riding of Markham-Unionville — where almost two thirds of residents are ethnic Chinese — to Liberal Paul Chiang after taking the previous two elections.

They have chat rooms and chat groups dedicated to unseating Kenny Chiu

Chiu, a Hong Kong native, says he has never been shy about his dislike of the Communist government in Beijing. But last April he introduced a private member’s bill that would require any agents of a foreign government to register with Ottawa and report on their activities. It was modelled after similar legislation in Australia and a law that has been in force in the United States for several decades.

Local Chinese-language media ignored the bill when it was introduced but as the election campaign turned into a dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives, “attacks rained down on me,” the former MP said.

An article posted anonymously on WeChat, and that later showed up on various other online platforms, suggested it was designed to “suppress” the Chinese community and that anyone connected to China would have to register.

A similar story on a Chinese-language site called Today Commercial News said it would curb the freedom of speech of the Chinese community and have a “profound impact” on Chinese Canadians.

In fact, the legislation would require registration only for those acting on behalf of foreign governments or political groups who lobby a senior civil servant or an elected politician. It has actually been criticized for being too narrowly focused.

Other WeChat posts suggested erroneously the Conservatives had proposed to ban the widely used social media site itself.

“It’s very much organized,” said Chiu. “They have chat rooms and chat groups dedicated to unseating Kenny Chiu.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Chinese Benevolent Association, a group that has repeatedly run advertisements backing up Beijing on contentious issues like Hong Kong’s National Security Law, hosted a free lunch on behalf of the Liberal candidate in Vancouver East riding.

New Democrat Jenny Kwan still managed to win the seat handily, however.


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


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.


Tohti and Burton: Canada must respond to China’s harrowing genocide

More on the oppression Uyghurs and the need for more forceful policy responses:
As the world somberly marked UN Genocide Commemoration Day this week, Canadians still await their own government’s action after a parliamentary panel found that China’s persecution of Uyghurs is now the largest mass detention of a people in concentration camps since the Holocaust.Last summer, the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rightsheld a series of emergency meetings on the plight of the Uyghur population in China, in response to growing reports of forced labour, forced sterilization and population control.

The subcommittee received briefs and testimony from 23 Canadian and international witnesses, who detailed atrocities in China’s flourishing campaign to eradicate Uyghur culture and identity by engaging two million people in forced labour and mental torture.

The subcommittee heard that in the prison camps, Uyghurs are required to speak only Mandarin Chinese and are denied their human right to practise their religion. Women and girls often face sexual abuse and rape by their captors. The situation for their children consigned to orphanages is one of complete assimilation into Han Chinese language and culture, combined with the desperation of having no information on the fate of their parents.

Family abroad, meantime, have no means to communicate with anyone in the Uyghur regions. The stress on Canadian Uyghurs of not knowing if family members are alive is enormous, and they are subject to menacing threats by Chinese agents in Canada who intimidate them from speaking out on what’s going on. These threats sometimes precede the sudden death of family members in the camps. There was also extensive evidence given of sterilization of Uyghur women and forced marriage to Han Chinese men.

The subcommittee’s report to Parliament this Fall found that China’s policies toward Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are worse than imagined. It concurred with testimony by former human rights lawyer and Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, who called the Uyghur situation “a classic case study of such war crimes, crimes against humanity and, as I and others have mentioned, acts that are constitutive of genocide.”

Cotler and others implored the Canadian government to take various measures including working with allies and multilateral organizations to condemn China’s use of concentration camps, extending sanctuary for Uyghur refugees trapped in third countries, and refusing to import products of Uyghur forced labour.

The subcommittee is urging the federal government to impose Sergei Magnitsky Actsanctions on all Chinese government officials culpable for perpetrating human rights abuses, and notes that if the international community does not condemn China’s campaign in Xinjiang province, a precedent will be set and such atrocities will be adopted by other regimes.

Besides Wednesday having been Genocide Commemoration Day, Dec. 9 was also the 72nd anniversary of the Genocide Convention, the first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Convention signifies the international community’s commitment to “never again” and establishes a duty for states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

But as the months go by, it becomes increasingly apparent the Canadian government will ignore the findings and recommendations of its own parliamentary subcommittee. The federal government will not expel any Chinese diplomats overseeing the harassment of people in Canada, instead advising Uyghur Canadians to contact local police if they are subject to threats. And evidently Beijing has sufficient influence in Canada to put a stop to any talk of Magnitsky sanctions against complicit Communist officials, some of whom have real estate here and children enrolled in Canadian schools.

In the end, it all seems to be about racism and the critical position of Uyghur territory for China’s global “Belt and Road” infrastructure campaign. As Uyghurs call for self-rule in an independent East Turkestan principality, China evidently believes it can solve that problem through its cultural extermination efforts.

The subcommittee’s report aptly quotes Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel: “Silence in the face of evil ends up being complicity with evil itself.” It is time Canada stopped standing idly by and showed some legitimacy for our purported commitment to the rules-based international order.

Mehmet Tohti is Executive Director at Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project. 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: Tohti and Burton: Canada must respond to China’s harrowing genocide

Canada shouldn’t go to Winter Olympics in Beijing

Agree with Raph Girard, former government colleague. Do Olympians really want to be complicit with the Chinese regime and all its human rights abuses?:

The appointment of Catriona Le May Doan as head of our 2022 Olympic delegation would have been more than appropriate had there been a reason to send a team to China in the first place. How can we possibly be thinking of sending Canadians under our flag to a country that is holding two of our citizens hostage; that has threatened Canadians in Hong Kong; and that continues to use trade as a weapon against us?

China’s repression of the Uighurs and the democratic movement in Hong Kong  should be sufficient for fair-minded countries to withdraw, as Canada did from the Moscow Games in 1980. China is a  pariah state. Let us show some backbone and demonstrate we will not be bullied by letting it know right now that there will be no Canadian team to harass in Beijing in 2022.

Raphael Girard, Ottawa


John Ivison: Boycott of Beijing Olympics is no substitute for a proper foreign policyClose sticky video

While the government is pondering over a new approach to dealing with China, the Conservative Party is urging the Liberals to consider a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The idea was raised on social media by Canada’s former senior public servant, Michael Wernick. “Perhaps it is time to start preparing the Canadian public for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China,” he said.

Michael Chong, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, agrees.

“China is threatening our citizens and undermining our rights and freedoms with its covert operations in Canada. Everything should be under consideration to defend Canada and Canadians – including a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics,” he said in an email.

Chong pointed out that it is an option where this country has some leverage. “Canada is a winter sports powerhouse. No Winter Olympics could be a success without Canada’s participation,” he said.

The idea received a tepid response from the government.

The department of Canadian Heritage professed impotence when it came to the question of a boycott. “The decision on whether or not to participate in the Olympic and Paralympic games lies with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, as they operate independently of the government,” it said in a statement.

A boycott has pros and cons – it would send a clear message to Beijing that Canadians are incensed at their fellow citizens being jailed arbitrarily (Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are approaching two years in detention), while the Communist Party engages in intimidation and influence-peddling on Canadian soil.

On the other hand, it is unlikely to succeed in securing the release of the two Michaels.

The games were designed to lower international tensions and this would exacerbate them. A boycott would be a symbolic gesture unlikely to shift Chinese foreign policy, while the real victims would be the athletes.

Wernick said he is not sure it is a good idea, especially if Canada was on its own. “Did boycotting Moscow in 1980 make a difference?” he asked.

At the end of the day, a boycott is no substitute for a proper foreign policy, which is something Canada lacks when it comes to China.


Burton: Canada should manage our China policy more honestly

With Global Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne scheduled to give evidence Monday to the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China relations, expect a lot of hemming and hawing over why he voted against an Opposition motion for Canada to announce a decision on Huawei 5G before Christmas.

He’ll also have to explain why Canada has not undertaken effective measures to stop covert, coercive activities by Chinese agents who seek to influence Canadian policymakers and intimidate human rights defenders in Canada’s Uighur and Tibetan communities, pro-democracy activists, campaigners for freedom in Hong Kong or practitioners of Falun Gong. Canada’s policy on this so far has been akin to the “ghosting” (that is, withdrawing without explanation) of a discarded romantic partner. Canada has broken off the 5G relationship with Huawei for very good national security reasons, but doesn’t want to incur Beijing’s wrath by telling them straight out.

The argument that “ghosting” might obtain the release of Michaels Kovrig and Spavor, or avoid further economic retaliation that punishes Canadian business and farmers, has proven wrong-headed. After 711 days, two exemplary Canadian citizens are still in prison hell in the People’s Republic of China, neither of them deserving such vulgar abuse as Beijing tries to force Canada to comply with China’s political demands. Beijing obviously does not reward passivity with gestures of goodwill, and if the federal government continues to give in to the PRC’s amoral “wolf warrior diplomacy,” expect China to be thus emboldened to demand that Canada offer successive concessions in years ahead.

In 2018, China declared itself a “near-Arctic state” and called for a “Polar Silk Road” to not only expedite shipping through our Arctic waters, but develop ports, infrastructure, military presence and extract resources in Canada’s North. The carrot for Canada would ostensibly be huge Chinese state investment and developmental benefits, but this is all simply part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s strategy to displace the United States as the world’s dominant political and economic power by 2050, which will be the 100th anniversary of China’s People’s Republic.

This is all consistent with the PRC’s strong insistence that Canada not only allow Huawei free rein over our telecommunications framework, but that Canada cease its “discriminatory” security review process over any PRC acquisitions of critical Canadian natural resources and infrastructure.

Where is Canada’s appeasement of China ultimately leading? If push came to shove, would we revisit the decision to keep Aecon Construction out of Chinese state control? China certainly sees precedent for this, as our current government in 2017 inexplicably reversed the Harper cabinet’s 2015 denial of Hong Kong O-Net’s application to take over ITF Technologies of Montreal, a leader in advanced fibre-laser technology with military applications. It was because CSIS reportedly had advised that O-Net is effectively controlled by the Chinese state that Canada passed up China’s generous monetary inducements to OK that acquisition, despite the lobbying of Canadians who would have benefitted richly from the sale.

Little wonder that Beijing clearly perceives that holding Kovrig and Spavor is working out well, keeping Canada from retaliating for China’s flouting of accepted norms of international diplomacy and trade. It’s time Canada did the right things: ceasing to turn a blind eye to China’s money diplomacy meant to influence Canadian policymakers; adopting zero tolerance of Chinese state harassment of people in Canada; sanctioning Chinese officials who have wealth invested here and are complicit in the Uighur genocide; offering safe harbour to all Hong Kongers at risk of arrest under the PRC’s draconian National Security Law; and stringently inspecting all Chinese shipments into Canada to stem the flow of fentanyl.

As for Huawei, we really need to make a clear and principled statement. In doing so, China will have no reason to further poison its relationship with Canada by keeping Kovrig and Spavor so brutally incarcerated.

Ghosting has not worked in this relationship. It is time to make clear our Canadian intentions.

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: Burton: Canada should manage our China policy more honestly


Chinese-Canadian groups laud China’s fight against Canada, allies in Korean War

Sigh…. Diaspora politics and/or foreign influence?

A group of Chinese-Canadian associations are marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War by publicly condemning the United States and its allies, including Canada, as aggressors and imperialists while lauding China for fighting alongside North Korea.

More than 26,000 Canadians in the army, navy and air force served in the United Nation-authorized military campaign to defend South Korea from China-backed North Korean forces in the early 1950s. The war claimed the lives of 516 Canadians, whose chief adversaries were Chinese and North Korean troops.

Statements praising China’s role in the Korean War from five Chinese-Canadian organizations were recently posted on WeChat, the popular Chinese-language social-media platform. Apptopia, a firm that tracks mobile services, said WeChat has been downloaded 265,000 times in Canada in 2020 alone.

The quotes appeared as part of an article posted by the Come From China News WeChat account in Ottawa.

“Seventy years ago, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Korean people fought together to resist the invasion, took the initiative to attack and achieved victory! Let us remember this great victory,” wrote Tracy Law, a Vancouver financial adviser and president of the Guangzhou Fellow-students Association of Canada and president of the Guangdong Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Canada.

David Bercuson, a University of Calgary historian who wrote a book on the Korean War, said celebrating China’s role in the Korean War is akin to glorifying Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

He said it’s particularly offensive because South Korea would be living under a couunist dictatorship today if it weren’t for the actions of the United States and allies including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The United States did not start the war. North Korea, with the approval of China and the Soviet Union, did he said.

“If we had not stopped the North Koreans and the Chinese from taking over South Korea, then South Korea today would be part of North Korea.”

He said China deployed about 400,000 troops to help North Korea in the conflict.

The most famous battle fought by Canadian soldiers was at Kapyong in April, 1951, when a battalion of about 700 Canadian troops from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry helped defend a crucial position against about 5,000 Chinese soldiers. This helped prevent the communist forces from retaking Seoul, and the Canadians received the United States Presidential Unit Citation from the American government for their conduct.

Canadian Senator Yonah Martin, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, said she found these statements extolling China’s role to be shocking.

She said the comments mirror statements last week by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi last week marked the 70th anniversary of China’s entry into the Korean war, characterizing it as fighting off “imperialist invaders,” a reference to the U.S. and allies including Canada, and how it was a fight against “U.S. aggression.” He was later accused of distorting history by South Korea’s foreign minister.

“These quotes are part of a campaign which is taking part in China,” Ms. Martin said.

In his speech, Mr. Xi said China’s performance in the Korean War “broke the myth that the U.S. military is invincible,” China’s Global Times quoted him as saying.

In the same WeChat post, Lu Hongmin, executive director of the Federation of Ottawa Chinese-Canadian Community Organizations, reprised comments from Mr. Xi deploring the “Cold War mentality” of the United States and praising China for sending its armies to support Pyongyang after U.S.-led forces, including Canadians, pushed the North Koreans out of Seoul and back to their side of the 38th parallel.

“American aircraft invaded North Korea, repeatedly bombed the northeast border area of China, causing serious losses to peoples’ lives and property, and our country’s [China’s] security was facing a serious threat,” Mr. Lu wrote, quoting Mr. Xi.

In the same WeChat post, Liu Luyi, with the Federation of Ottawa Chinese-Canadian Community Organizations, was quoted as saying “the Chinese People’s Liberation Army dared to face the provocation of the world’s military power, the United States, to fight against aggression.”

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said it is regrettable some Chinese Canadian organizations choose to echo recent comments of Mr. Jinping.

“It is so wrong to get Canadians to identify with the interests of a foreign state. That goes against the principles of citizenship.” Mr. Burton said.

Ms. Law later told The Globe and Mail in an interview that her comments were meant to show sympathy for the deaths of Chinese soldiers and she should have mentioned the sacrifice of Canadians.

“I live in Canada and I support and love the country. Those [words] are probably not appropriate to say that,” Ms. Law said. “We should have said Canadians also fought in the war.”

Mr. Lu said his intention in this WeChat post was peaceful. “I do not and never support any war no matter when and where,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “We are Canadians. We love to live in Canada.”

The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement that brought an end to stalemated fighting. Since then, the border between the two Koreas has been one of the most militarized in the world, with about a million troops now positioned near their side of a divide that was redrawn at the end of the conflict.


Burton: China threatens and intimidates people within Canada as Ottawa remains silent

Harsh words, not without merit:

Notwithstanding its nimble handling of a pandemic, Justin Trudeau’s government will be vulnerable in the next election if voters don’t see meaningful action replace Canada’s passive rhetoric on China’s human rights, trade and hostage diplomacy.

This summer, the Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights and the Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations heard harrowing testimony from witnesses who say Chinese government agents threaten them and their families in Canada and in China.

Canadian Chinese and Canadian Uighur activists told of being threatened with rape or even death if they keep speaking out against violations committed by China against the Uighurs, or the persecution of Hong Kong residents clinging to political rights.

Witnesses pleaded for Canada to stop this intimidation campaign being co-ordinated by the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa and its consulates in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. All people in Canada are entitled to the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including Chinese Canadians or citizens of China here in Canada as students or for other purposes.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s nonresponse to calls to protect Chinese Canadians amounts to tacit consent for Beijing to continue acting as if ethnic Chinese, Tibetans and Uighurs within Canada should still be subject to repression by China’s Communist regime.

Sadly, this is consistent with Canada’s nonaction on China. Regarding offering sanctuary to Hong Kong activists facing persecution due to repressive moves by Beijing, we are told that Ottawa is thinking it over. Ditto to applying Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese officials complicit in genocidal measures against Uighur people, including forced sterilization of women.

These sanctions are already applied against officials in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other countries engaging in human rights abuses less serious than China’s. If Ottawa defers these decisions as long as they have delayed ruling on Huawei 5G, Canada’s sagging reputation as a weak link in maintaining international rules-based order will be confirmed.

Magnitsky sanctions would seriously impact China’s “red nobility,” who park dubious assets in Canada. For them this country serves as a bolt hole in case of being on the losing end of factional struggles that characterize China’s unstable nondemocracy.

This includes Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO with a $5-million, six-bedroom residence plus a $13-million estate more than triple that size in one of Vancouver’s toniest neighbourhoods. (Meng was carrying seven passports when detained by Canadian authorities.) People like this are not so concerned about military conflicts or decoupling from the West, as they are of Magnitsky cancellation of their visas and confiscation of their overseas money and assets.

To maintain power, Party General-Secretary Xi Jinping must be seen as protecting the interests of Communist elites. If they believe his mismanagement of relations with Canada will impact them directly, Xi has a major problem. But this point appears lost on Canadian policy-makers, those same people who seem in no hurry to consider a Canadian iteration of Australia’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act.

That law has led to numerous former senior Australian government people resigning from the lucrative China-related boards and consultancies. Such plums are a key tactic of China’s covert and corrupt approach to cultivating influential Western “friends.”

What of the sotto voce reservations expressed about the impact of Canada doing anything that China would not like on the fate of hostages Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig? After more than 600 days of incarceration, Ottawa’s refrain “we are working very hard” to achieve their release has worn thin. The fact is, Beijing will hold these two innocent men for as long as it benefits the furtherance of China’s agenda in Canada, regardless of any impact on China’s global credibility.

Currently, Beijing has got us where they want us. The tragic fallacy of Canada’s silence is that the longer we remain passive in the face of China’s appalling violations of international trade, diplomacy and human rights, the longer we can expect Kovrig and Spavor to remain in Chinese prison hell.

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: China threatens and intimidates people within Canada as Ottawa remains silent

Parliamentary association chair defends Canada-China group as critics call for its suspension

Engage for what purpose when the two Michaels are still detained under awful conditions, repression of religious minorities such as the Uighurs continue, and China proceeds to end Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Wilful naiveté at best. Arguments mirror those used by the International Metropolis Secretariat to justify the holding of Metropolis in Beijing that our petition successfully cancelled.

These kinds of contacts should be suspended until the Michaels are released at a minimum:

As Beijing’s behaviour grows increasingly strong-willed and the Canada-China relationship continues to flounder, some are calling for the suspension of a parliamentary association between the two countries, while one of the co-chairs says the group facilitates dialogue.

The 50-member Canadian-side of the Canada-China Legislative Association, which was founded in 1998, is composed of MPs and Senators who work to “promote better understanding” in the bilateral relationship on both common interests and differences.

“There’s so much to be gained from maintaining that discussion,” Independent Senator Paul Massicotte (De Lanaudière, Que.) told The Hill Times. “We have an immense interest in this relationship—[from a] human rights point of view, economically, future growth, climate change. There’s so much to gain from our relationship, in spite of the fact that we have serious disagreements about some key issues.”

Sen. Massicotte is one of two co-chairs of the Canada-China Legislative Association. Liberal MP Han Dong (Don Valley North, Ont.), the group’s other co-chair, didn’t respond to an interview request.

“Its [purpose is] to be frank and chat with each other and maintain as good relations as we can, in spite of possible differences—in this case, serious differences between our approach as a country and our value system and their thought pattern,” Sen. Massicotte said about the association. “But just because you disagree with somebody doesn’t mean you put an end to it.”

He said if the association is suspended, the dialogue between the two countries would be damaged.

Macdonald-Laurier Institute fellow Shuvaloy Majumdar called for the association’s suspension in a National Post op-ed last week, citing China’s National Party Congress’ imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong which threatens the “one country, two systems” foundation of the region.

“Canadian Parliament has no business legitimizing the masquerade of Beijing’s National Party Congress as it institutionally represses Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and constitutional rights,” wrote Mr. Majumdar, a former policy director to multiple foreign affairs ministers in the government of then-prime minister Stephen Harper.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne (Saint-Maurice-Champlain, Que.) released a joint statement last week with his counterparts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, calling the imposition of the national security law “a deep concern” and “in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Mr. Majumdar told The Hill Times that the parliamentary association gives the Chinese Communist Party “unrivalled access to lobby Canadian Parliamentarians.”

“If you were interested in the spirit of dialogue with the Chinese people, then why not also pursue similar arrangements with Hong Kong’s Legislative Council or with Taiwan’s Parliament in conjunction with the National Party Congress?” he noted. “That’s not happened. So this is not about dialogue.”

Mr. Majumdar added that China’s National Congress has “broken faith” with the sprit of “honest dialogue” with the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong and that they are “subverting and distorting” an understanding of China in Canada that is coming at the cost of Canadian interests.

“It ought not to be tolerated.”

Sen. Massicotte, who met with Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu alongside Mr. Dong on Feb. 26, said he raises the issues of disagreement in all the meetings the association has with Chinese officials.

“You can do it politely,” he said. “You can raise up issues that you don’t agree on, but you don’t have to be disagreeable.”

“Usually we’ll say we agree to disagree because we don’t have the same starting point or same culture. We don’t brush over our differences,” said Sen. Massicotte, calling discussions with the Chinese ambassador “very cordial.”

Conservative MP Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton, Alta.), vice-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association, said there should be a consideration to the association’s role going forward.

“I think we do need to review the activities of the legislative association,” he said. “Does that mean suspending the association? Perhaps. But we need to have those discussions in light of what needs to be and what will be a different relationship between Canada and China, at least in the short and intermediate term, as a result of the fallout of COVID-19 and the unlawful actions the Chinese Communist regime has taken against Hong Kong.”

Mr. Cooper said that there needs to be an overall evaluation of Canada’s bilateral relationship with China stemming from how Beijing handled the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials who were involved in “silencing and jailing whistleblowers” in the early days of the virus’ outbreak and officials “involved in the cover-up” of the pandemic.

He said the parliamentary association has not met as an executive since the start of the year.

“So at this point, the association, speaking as an executive, has been inactive,” Mr. Cooper said.

Debate over parliamentary group comes at tipping point for Canada-China relations

It was feared that a B.C. court judge ruling against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou last week on a “double criminality” principle, which continued her extradition trial, would further inflame tensions between Canada and China.

The Chinese Communist Party-supported Global Times stated that the decision would bring about the “worst-ever” period in the bilateral relationship. So far, retaliation has been muted, as reported by The Globe and Mail, with a Chinese government spokesperson commenting on the 50thanniversary of Canada-China relations

Ms. Meng was arrested in December 2018 at the behest of the United States. The arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China soon followed in apparent retaliation. The two Canadians have been detained by Chinese authorities ever since.

The parliamentary association took a trip to China in January 2019 shortly after the arrests of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, during which then-co-chair and now-retired senator Joseph Day said the detained Canadians were not on the agenda. Mr. Cooper, who was also on the trip, brought the cases up and said raising the issues didn’t help “in the sense that they are still in China,” but added at the same time that discussing the issue “did not hurt.”

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, who served in the post from 2012 to 2016, said the Canada-China Legislative Association “can be useful.”

He added that it takes “a bit of guts” for Canadian Parliamentarians to raise contentious issues with Chinese authorities, noting that he has experienced foreign affairs ministers that were reticent to raise contentious issues with China.

“If it’s properly managed, we should proceed,” he said. “But, on the other hand, if something dramatic were to occur in Hong Kong, I think we will have to think about sanctions against China and then maybe the suspension of those [association] visits would be required.”

“The key is preparation,” said Mr. Saint-Jacques of when Canadian Parliamentarians in the association travel to China.

He said that when he was ambassador he would “regularly” meet with the members of the association when he returned to Ottawa to give briefings on important issues and prepare them for upcoming trips.

When the group arrived in China, the visit would start with a breakfast at the embassy to give the MPs and Senators the latest information that Canadian diplomats in China have collected before they met with Chinese officials, he said.

With Parliamentarians from many different parties and political ideologies, Mr. Saint-Jacques said it gives the Chinese officials an insight into the Canadian system where politicians don’t speak with one voice, unlike in the Chinese system.

While he said that the association can serve to legitimize the National Congress, it is better than the alternative of no contact.

“If you have no contacts, then you leave them to think that things work the same way here than over there,” he said.

Brock University professor Charles Burton, a former counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, said he has long been calling for the suspension of the association.

“I feel that we are being played by the Communist Party in this association,” said Prof. Burton, a Macdonald-Laurier Institute fellow.

He said the parliamentary association serves as a way for the Chinese government to establish “moral equivalency” between Canada’s Parliament and China’s non-democratic National Congress.

“The Members of Parliament who go have a very pleasant time in China with delicious banquets and interesting tourism … but I don’t see it as furthering the interest of Canada in any way,” he said.

Prof. Burton said Parliamentarians can engage with Chinese diplomats in Canada through other forums such as the Special House Committee on Canada-China Relations.

“Typically, Parliamentarians don’t have the expertise to represent Canada’s position effectively and tend to be put into photo-ops and make joint statements that support the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda in Canada,” he said.

Since the creation of the association, there has been no adoption of democratic reform in the National Congress, Prof. Burton said, adding that the group hasn’t had “any positive impact” on fostering the development of parliamentary democracy in China.

Source: Parliamentary association chair defends Canada-China group as critics call for its suspension

Burton: In Canada, the tide of opinion is turning on China

Good summary by former Canadian diplomat Charles Burton:

In what should be a wake-up call for the federal government, the Canadian public’s perception of China appears to be swinging dramatically.

An Angus Reid poll last week found four in five Canadians want Huawei banned from any role in building this country’s 5G network, and just 11 per cent of respondents felt Canada should focus its trade efforts on China – down from 40 per cent in 2015. And 76 per cent said Canada should prioritize human rights and the rule of law over economic opportunity.

If Ottawa has been delaying a decision all these months while it awaits the “right moment” to announce that the future of Canadian telecommunications lies with Huawei, it is now clear that moment will never come.

Our government continues to behave as if Canada-China relations will resume status quo ante once the matter of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is resolved. Earlier this year, when Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne chose an adviser for the Asia-Pacific file, he namedPascale Massot, a former senior mentor to Mr. Champagne’s predecessor Stéphane Dion. Mr. Dion was the architect of Canada’s failed policy of strategic appeasement with Russia, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. There is no indication Ms. Massot has undergone any Damascene conversion on how best to engage the People’s Republic of China.

Last month, Canadian Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, consistent with her party’s line, vigorously defended the credibility of the PRC’s actions and reporting of COVID-19 cases, insisting, “there is no indication that the data that came out of China in terms of their infection rate and their death rate was falsified in any way.” She then told the reporter questioning her on this that they were “feeding into conspiracy theories that many people have been perpetuating on the internet.” A lot of us must be deceived by the conspiracy, as the Angus Reid poll found 85 per cent of respondents believe Beijing has not been honest about what happened in its own country regarding the novel coronavirus.

Certainly, China’s aggressive new “wolf warrior” diplomacy has the attention of Canadians. Lu Shaye, China’s former envoy in Ottawa, suggested last January that Canada and its Western allies were displaying white supremacyby calling for the release of two Canadians imprisoned since December 2018 without any coherent charges. Mr. Lu’s ridiculous, highly offensive blathering obviously went over well in Beijing, as he has since been promoted to China’s ambassador to France.

In a Global TV interview on Sunday, Mr. Lu’s successor, Cong Peiwu, linked the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – who have been denied any form of consular access (including by phone or video) since January – to the detainment of Ms. Meng, who faces extradition to the United States. Mr. Cong also refuted suggestions that the Chinese Communist Party has been intimidating or bullying its critics.

If the party has been bullying its critics, it’s not a new tactic in the grand scheme of its political activities. A report released in March by the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China and Amnesty International Canada included details of an apparent intimidation program targeting the Chinese diaspora in Canada.

Last week, Canada’s ambassador in Beijing, Dominic Barton, made headlinesafter he candidly told members of the Canadian International Council that China is alienating other countries by accumulating “negative” soft power in response to international criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the response from the PRC has been both defensive and irrational.

Regrettably, the impact of this disease has led to episodes of ugly racism in Canada against Chinese-Canadians. Obviously ethnic Chinese people in Canada have no connection to the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged false reporting on the spread of the virus, which has claimed more than 300,000 lives globally. It should be a government priority that any race-based persecution in Canada is met with the full force of Canadian law.

As for Mr. Barton, while it is not his place to set Canada’s China policy (an ambassador’s job is to implement Canadian foreign policy), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has implied support for what Mr. Barton said. The fact that he hasn’t been fired for speaking out of turn – like his predecessor, John McCallum – offers some hope that this government will finally do the China-policy reset voters seem to have an appetite for.

Source: Opinion In Canada, the tide of opinion is turning on China. The Communist Party’s handling of COVID-19 has renewed contention over Huawei and the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor: Charles Burton

Burton: Trudeau government at a crossroads in its dealings with China

Burton, McCuaig-Johnston, Mulroney, Glavin and others have been making these points for some time, and questioning the government’s response to date:

The new Trudeau government’s approach to China’s Communist Party regime is rife with dilemma. Support the business and political interests of the Laurentian élite, who are entwined in and conflicted by a Beijing engagement approach that eschews established norms of trade and diplomacy? Or adhere to Canadian middle-class values that make Canada the harmonious and tolerant society it is: decency, fairness, reciprocity, honesty, openness?

Canada’s policy on China was evidently too sensitive to handle during the recent election campaign; the Munk Centre’s scheduled foreign policy debate was cancelled after Justin Trudeau refused to appear.

But now it is new beginnings for a new government, time to reflect on the horrendous failures of our past engagement with China, time to do the necessary re-set in Canada’s national interest.

Against this desperate need for an open national debate, it is disappointing to see our government engaging in closed-door policy discussions led by Peter Harder (the government leader in the Senate), current and former senior officials of Global Affairs Canada, academics who favour engagement on Beijing’s terms, and business leaders with lucrative connections to Chinese Communist business networks closed to public scrutiny.

Now it is new beginnings for a new government, time to reflect on the horrendous failures of our past engagement with China, time to do the necessary re-set in Canada’s national interest.

On Nov. 19, the Public Policy Forum (lead partner: government of Canada) charged stakeholders in Canada-China relations $900 to access a one-day workshop and dinner in Ottawa, called “China and the Policy Implications of a new Cold War.” The pricey registration fee would be well beyond the budget of Canadian Tibetan, Uyghur or China human rights NGO activists, or Canadian media outlets. That would effectively mute voices who would like to know how Canada will address the cultural genocide of Turkic Muslims in China’s northwest, or the fate of the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong, or when Canada will take strong measures to convince China to release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

The PPF’s mandate is to “write a more sophisticated narrative for Canadians,” leading to “a more nuanced engagement” — evidently a mysterious doctrine best developed without wider participation.

The narrative that PPF is developing is that “the rise of China is bending the arc of history,” so Canada must “adjust rapidly to changing geopolitical realities arguably as profound as anything since the rise of the United States challenged the dominance of the British Empire in the late 19th century.” This rhetoric is certainly not based on sound comparative historiography, but it is in perfect harmony with that articulated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He demands that Canada join China’s “community of the common destiny of mankind” and support China’s rebuild of global trade infrastructure by participating in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” because as the U.S. declines, China will become the new global hegemon.

In other words, Canada should get with the program, because, as former Liberal cabinet stalwart Martin Cauchon said regarding Huawei’s expansion, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” But China does not have a record of trust in upholding international agreements. Once Huawei is installed, billions of dollars later, any Chinese commitment to allow Canadian monitoring of Huawei systems to ensure they are not being used to purloin data, or threaten Canadian critical infrastructure, is likely to be revoked. And there won’t be much we can do about it.

On Nov. 20, the day after the workshop, François-Philippe Champagne was appointed minister of Global Affairs, and Mary Ng was named minister of International Trade. Both are extensively on the record saying trade should be Canada’s priority for engaging China. What about concerns over China’s espionage and covert political influence activities in Canada, and Canadians’ alarm about engaging with a régime complicit in human rights violations against its own people, violating sovereignty in the South China Sea and using economic leverage to serve Beijing’s authoritarian political and strategic purposes? Such concerns must go by the wayside, because China has made clear it will not expand trade with Canada otherwise.

So now, the same policymakers who got it so very wrong on China in the past are setting Canada’s China agenda for the future. The question begs: What more does the Chinese Communist régime have to do to convince us that our “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” appeasement of China is actually disastrous to Canada’s domestic and global interests?

What we need is uncompromised, Canadian, level-headed good sense to be brought into play. Let’s hope that happens before it is too late.

Source: Burton: Trudeau government at a crossroads in its dealings with China