China needs foreign workers. So why won’t it embrace immigration?

Of interest:

For hundreds of years China could boast of having more people than any other country. The title became official in the 1950s, when the un began compiling such data. Such a large population conferred on China certain bragging rights. A huge labour supply also helped to boost its annual gdp growth, which has averaged close to 9% over the past three decades.

Last month China’s reign came to an end. India has overtaken it as the world’s most populous country. The demographic trends behind the shift have troubling implications for the new number two. China’s working-age population has been shrinking for a decade (see chart). Its population as a whole declined last year—and it is ageing rapidly. This is likely to hinder economic growth and create an enormous burden of care.

Yet when officials in Beijing mull solutions, one seems largely absent from the discussion: immigration. China has astonishingly few foreign-born residents. Of its 1.4bn people, around 1m, or just 0.1%, are immigrants. That compares with shares of 15% in America, 19% in Germany and 30% in Australia. Place it next to that of other Asian countries which also shun immigration and China’s total still looks measly. Foreigners constitute 2% of Japan’s population and 3% of South Korea’s. Even North Korea has a higher proportion of immigrants than China, according to the un.

China’s future economic and social needs resemble those that have made other societies recruit guest workers. In January the government released a list of 100 occupations, such as salesperson and cleaner, where there is a lack of staff. Over 80% of manufacturers faced labour shortages in 2022, according to one survey. Nearly half of China’s 400m blue-collar workers are aged over 40, reported a study in December. That is in line with an official estimate that China will have trouble filling nearly 30m manufacturing jobs by 2025.

An abundance of young and cheap workers once filled these openings. But as China ages and shrinks that supply of willing labour is drying up. Firms complain of a mismatch between the jobs sought by young people, an increasing number of whom have university degrees, and those available. Many young Chinese do not want to work in factories, laments China Daily, a party mouthpiece. That helps explain why nearly 20% of 16- to 24-year-olds in cities are unemployed.

Source: China needs foreign workers. So why won’t it embrace immigration?

Amal Attar-Guzman: Diaspora communities in Canada are an incredible asset—if only we would take them seriously

The one point missing from this analysis is the divisions within the various diaspora communities. Members in most communities have diverse interests and viewpoints and thus the question of “who to take seriously” is not as straightforward as it may appear.

In the case of China, it appears the government was too cozy with Chinese Canadians who were more aligned with the Chinese regime than Chinese Canadians who were more independent:

China’s foreign interference in Canadian democracy has been the hot topic these past few weeks. The Conservatives and Bloc Québécois are demanding a public inquiry to investigate how the last two federal elections were compromised and who in the government knew what and when. 

This is not just a federal issue, either. In Ontario, the Progressive Conservative government has faced own its backlash, with allegations that PC MPP Vincent Ke served as a financial intermediary for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Toronto-area network.1

Canadians have strong feelings on the matter. A recent Angus Reid Institute poll finds that a plurality (40 percent) of Canadians now view China as a potential threat to Canadian interests, while over a quarter (26 percent) say that the Canadian government should proceed cautiously with Beijing. Only 12 percent of Canadians are favourable towards China.  

While the coverage of this story has been extensive and shows no signs of slowing down, one major element has been under-discussed in this affair: the impact on the Asian diaspora and other diaspora communities as a whole. 

Here in Canada, we love commending ourselves for having a pluralistic, open, and inclusive society where people from many parts of the world can live together peacefully and in harmony. Where diversity, famously, is our strength.

While I tend to agree with the premise, how does that shake out in practice? What’s the use of praising ourselves when government officials do not listen to diaspora communities when they are being harmed?

That has been the case in this current scandal, where warnings from the Chinese diaspora of potential foreign interference were not taken seriously. In fact, members of the community reported the issue of Chinese foreign interference as early as 2006. Instead, the Canadian political establishment, both Liberal and Conservative governments, mostly ignored them. 

Because of the severity of the scandal, there have finally been talks of officially setting up a publicly-available foreign influence registry, as outlined by Senate Bill S-237. This bill would require individuals or organizations that have ties with foreign governments to be officially registered,especially in the case where they seek to contact Canadian public officials. It would fall in line with what other allies have done, particularly in the U.S. and Australia

Many are apprehensive of this bill. There have been growing concerns that a foreign influence registry would be used to further incite anti-Asian sentiment in Canada, which has been prevalent in recent years. Over the course of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 47 percent increase in racist incidents against the Asian community, according to a Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter and Project 1907 survey.

I am sympathetic to these concerns. Racism and xenophobia in times of crisis are not new here in Canada, and can at times be reflected by a political establishment. In fact, sadly, I have been on the other side of such treatment. Being half-Iraqi, I have experienced racist and xenophobic sentiments over the years following America’s invasion of Iraq 20 years ago, despite Canada not officially joining the war.2

But why did these sentiments persist? The answer is in large part because there was little to no national discussion on how these difficult situations impacted our communities, nor did the political establishment of the day care to hear our experiences or insights. And this didn’t just happen to my community. Ask any diaspora community and they’ll have similar stories. 

Dynamics in diaspora communities are complex. For those of you not part of a diaspora, let me paint a picture. Being a part of a diaspora community in Canada is to be living in two worlds. Not only do we operate on a daily basis within the larger local, regional, and national culture of the country that we immigrated or were born into. But many also retain strong communal connections with their respective diaspora community, either with other fellow community members or by maintaining professional, social, or familial ties back in their countries of origin. The WhatsApp groups that many of our older relatives are a part of are no joke. 

Additionally, people within diasporas have complicated relationships among themselves. Social, cultural, or political grievances are often uprooted and replanted in the soil of their new homes.

Diaspora communities are then often stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, given these ties to their countries of origin, diasporas can be threatened by malicious adversarial actors back from their country of origin. This has often been the case with the CCP targeting members of the Chinese-Canadian community.

On the other hand, entire diaspora communities in Canada get chastised by the larger adoptive community and painted as the malicious actors themselves. As a result, many can feel as though they are living in a no man’s land, alienated by both their home country and their adopted country.

But there is a major upside. Because diasporas live and operate in two worlds and are culturally versed, they can provide the essential knowledge and intelligence that can be used to serve and protect Canada and its interests. Diaspora communities are the ace in Canada’s card deck. Their wealth of knowledge is an underutilized resource that Canada can tap into, if only we would listen.

But instead of being taken seriously, diaspora communities tend to be viewed by larger Canadian society in one of two ways: childlike and ignorant or dangerous and distrustful. By placing us in either category and not factoring us into the conversation, we are not seen as living, breathing communities that impact Canadian society at large. Both our issues and, importantly, our insights are ignored.

Thankfully, these last few weeks may be the wake-up call we need. Diaspora communities from the Canadian Coalition for a Foreign Influence Registry (CCFIR) have called on the federal government to start a foreign influence registry that will serve and protect diaspora community members. Hopefully their calls do not go unheeded. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced that there will be public consultations on any foreign agent registry to broadly engage with all Canadians, including the Chinese diaspora and other affected communities.

Ultimately, not actively involving diaspora communities in our policymaking not only does a disservice to Canadian democracy, national security, and our institutions, it puts diaspora communities at risk. If a “Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” then those in diaspora communities ready to participate in building this country must be both 1) protected from harmful foreign influence and 2) taken seriously as valuable contributors to our national project.

Would this entire mess have been avoided if prudent care was taken to seriously listen to marginalized members of the Chinese diaspora who were ringing early alarm bells about foreign interference? Maybe, maybe not. But we would be a lot further along in solving this problem than we are right now.

Source: Amal Attar-Guzman: Diaspora communities in Canada are an incredible asset—if only we would take them seriously

To really tackle Beijing’s interference, Canada must engage with the Chinese diaspora

Good commentary:

What needs to happen before Canada takes action on foreign interference? Apparently something as drastic as leaks of top-secret intelligence documents to the media.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to recent reports of Chinese foreign interference and disinformation campaigns in Canadian federal elections by announcing that his government would appoint an independent special rapporteur to investigate, provide recommendations and decide if a public inquiry is necessary. Further steps include reviews by intelligence bodies on such foreign-interference issues and new funding for civil-society organizations to combat disinformation.

Mr. Trudeau also announced consultations on a foreign-agent registry and the appointment of a new foreign-interference co-ordinator at Public Safety Canada. (Consultations on a foreign-agent registry – a policy previously pursued by Kenny Chiu, the former Conservative member of Parliament who was reportedly targeted by a Beijing-led online disinformation campaign – were actually announced back in December.)

This is all welcome news, and it signals that Ottawa may finally be taking foreign interference seriously. But the government continues to rely on top-down methods to address the issue, despite the fact that it alone cannot adequately take on the problem – and nor should it be the sole institution to take on the challenge. While funding is coming for non-governmental organizations to tackle disinformation, what is needed is a whole-of-society approach.

This includes engagement with a broader range of traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, such as academia, the private sector, media and local communities. Crucially, it prioritizes engagement with these stakeholders and with NGOs, aims to facilitate active participation in the decision-making process and strives to rebuild trust in our public institutions. In the specific case of foreign interference, it would allow the challenge to be tackled in ways that do not demonize equity-deserving groups.

In contrast, the current and proposed actions by the Canadian government overlook the targeted individuals and affected communities at the heart of China’s foreign-interference efforts. Canada’s response continues to miss opportunities to engage with the Chinese diaspora and dissident communities who have long been sounding the alarm on the Chinese Communist Party’s meddling in our democracy.

The issue of foreign interference, after all, goes beyond electoral meddling. It also involves the covert amplification of pro-Beijing narratives and the suppression of anti-Beijing ones. This has ramifications for the Chinese diaspora, which has found itself caught in the crossfire between two worlds and the geopolitical tension between them.

The status quo represents a silencing on two fronts. While the Chinese diaspora faces increasing anti-Asian sentiment and marginalization in Canada, the baggage of another home has followed them across oceans. Those who dare to speak out against the CCP, even on Canadian soil, endanger not only themselves but their friends and loved ones back in China or other PRC-controlled territories.

This is why the whole-of-society approach should centre on the Chinese diaspora – particularly the vulnerable communities within it, such as Hong Kongers, Uyghurs and Tibetans. While the diaspora and dissident communities bear the brunt of foreign interference by the CCP, these groups are often ignored when they could be helping to combat it. Many Hong Kongers, for instance, are well versed in tactics used by the CCP to target voters, having seen them in action firsthand in their own elections.

Canada must also engage with stakeholders who can communicate in the languages spoken in the community, who understand how cultural norms intersect with broader Canadian society, and who can meet members of the community where they are at. To increase civic engagement we must be able to communicate and educate in ways that are both respectful of one’s self-determination and understanding of the geopolitical tensions vulnerable groups must contend with.

National security concerns such as foreign transnational repression must be considered, too, to ensure that targeted communities can safely and freely engage in democracy without ramifications.

Foreign interference is a challenge that is here to stay. While the federal government is taking encouraging first steps, these can only be the beginning. A whole-of-society approach is required not only to address this issue, but to give a voice to those who have been silenced for so long.

Ai-Men Lau is a research analyst at Doublethink Lab and adviser to Alliance Canada Hong Kong. She is a contributor to Alliance Canada Hong Kong’s 2021 Report “In Plain Sight: Beijing’s unrestricted network of foreign influence in Canada.”

Source: To really tackle Beijing’s interference, Canada must engage with the Chinese diaspora

Conservatives had sudden, unusual drop in votes in ridings of concern for Chinese interference: data

Good analysis of election data and hard to argue that there was no effect due to Chinese government influence or interference given the scale and concentration of the drop. The pollsters consulted I think are being overly coy and neither I believe has detailed polling of Chinese Canadians or understanding of their issues (the Harper government was more harsh on China and yet did well among Chinese Canadians):
Evidence of China’s alleged influence in the 2021 federal election might be found as much in what didn’t happen as what did — namely, the significant number of previous Conservative voters who did not show up to cast a ballot in ridings in British Columbia and Ontario.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced probes into allegations of foreign interference last week after several media reports suggested Beijing had directed an interference campaign in a few ridings in the Toronto and Vancouver areas.The National Post reviewed voting tallies from ridings identified as areas of concern by various reports and by Conservative campaign officials. The ridings are all home to large populations of Chinese Canadians.

Across multiple ridings, a similar pattern emerged: Conservative candidates saw significantly fewer supporters coming to the polls, however the Liberals did not see large gains, indicating not that large numbers of voters switched allegiances, but that for some reason, large numbers of voters did not vote at all.

Markham–Unionville is one of the ridings Conservatives have pointed to as a concern. The former MP, Bob Saroya, won the suburban Toronto seat in 2015 and 2019 as a lonely blue island in a sea of Liberal red across the region.

In 2015, Saroya received 24,605 votes, about 3,000 more than his Liberal challenger, allowing him to take a seat from the Liberals even as the Trudeau government was swept to power. Saroya held the seat in 2019, receiving just over 26,000 votes, but in 2021 his vote total fell by more than 7,000 and he lost.

The victorious Liberal MP, Paul Chiang, put on a strong campaign garnering nearly 22,000 votes. It was Chiang’s first election, and on doorsteps he emphasized his strong local roots in the riding and his decades of work as a police officer. Trudeau visited the riding several times. But Chiang only received 1,500 more votes than the previous Liberal candidate did. Far more important to the election result was the steep drop in support for Saroya.

Chiang has shown no evident favouritism to China since being elected, voting for a motion condemning the Chinese government for their treatment of the Uyghur genocide just last month.

In B.C., former Conservative MP Alice Wong won the seat for Richmond Centre in 2015 with more than 17,000 votes and in 2019 with more than 19,000 votes. But in 2021, her vote count sank by almost 6,000 votes, to 13,440. She lost to a Liberal, despite the Liberal vote increasing only by about 2,000.

Several other ridings around Toronto and Vancouver with large Chinese Canadian populations saw declines in Conservative support, without the bulk of that support switching to other parties.

Former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu lost his Steveston-Richmond East riding after 4,400 fewer Conservative supporters voted for him in 2021 than in 2019. He has alleged a misinformation campaign was spread on Chinese social media apps, including WeChat, about his party and his positions, including that the Conservatives were going to ban WeChat.

However, Chiu also said many of his constituents were extremely cautious of COVID and Trudeau’s decision to run an election during a pandemic hurt his campaign.“It’s understandable right in the middle of the pandemic, that people not only would not open their door, let alone go out to the ballot and vote,” Chiu said.

Chiu’s riding has been hotly contested in the past. He won fairly narrowly in 2019 after losing in 2015. He said he is still convinced there was outside interference, because the time between the 2019 and 2021 elections had been so short, and most of the news about the Liberals during that time was negative.

“Between 2015 and 2019, there are four years. Between 2019 and 2021, there are 22 months, and all of that (time) it’s all pandemic and it’s full of government scandals,” Chiu said.

Éric Grenier, a polling analyst who runs The Writ website, said it’s clear the Conservatives lost support in a wide swath of ridings, and supporters mostly stayed home“It is pretty clear that the Conservatives were in trouble in ridings with big Chinese Canadian populations, because they did lose a lot more support in those ridings than they did in neighbouring ridings,” he said.

Grenier said many factors could explain the drop. To begin, overall voter turnout dropped by five per cent between 2019 and 2021. He also points to local candidate factors and other possibilities.

“In these ridings, it’s clear that something was happening that was motivating those voters, it’s just impossible to say what it was.”

Andrew Enns, vice president with polling firm Léger, said these ridings are an anomaly because the Conservative vote declined, even as it rose more broadly across Ontario and British Columbia. He agrees there could be many other factors at play.

“You’ve got to really look at other factors, the quality of the candidate. Did something happen to that local candidate in the campaign? And I don’t have any answers to that. But it is certainly an unusual trend.”

Enns said it is also possible Chinese Canadians soured on the Conservatives. While there was evidence of misinformation circulating about the party’s view on China, the party’s then leader, Erin O’Toole, generally favoured a more hawkish stance with the country.

Source: Conservatives had sudden, unusual drop in votes in ridings of concern for Chinese interference: data

Chinese interference in Canada? Chinese Canadians say they reported it for years — and were ignored

Of note:

The first time Cheuk Kwan and Sheng Xue testified to a parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee was in 2006. They warned of Beijing’s desire to “control everything” including activities of Canadians, and urged Ottawa to adopt a stronger stance in order to “earn (China’s) respect and not wrath.” 

“But every time we spoke to the government, it felt like we were putting on a show and helping them tick off a box that they were hearing from critics. Nothing was done,” Kwan said. 

Nearly 20 years later, he said they are part of a group of veteran Chinese-Canadian advocates and experts on China who are still struggling to be heard. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apparently relented. He is set to ask MPs and senators on Parliament’s national security committee to launch a new investigation of foreign interference in Canada.

None of the recent leaks of Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) warnings about Beijing’s foreign interference have surprised people in the country’s Chinese diaspora who have directly experienced Beijing’s intimidation and harassment, they say. 

“These are not even open secrets. It’s common knowledge,” said Kwan, an author and filmmaker who co-founded the Chinese Canadian National Council in 1980. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Kwan’s group supported those who fled to Canada from China following the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, and he has since witnessed Beijing’s mobilization of resources to influence other societies, particularly in places such as Canada, the U.S. and Australia where many Chinese diaspora settled. 

These days most of the blame is attributed to the increasingly infamous United Front Work Department. Since 1979, the United Front has been an official bureau in China that employs thousands of agents to pursue the Chinese Communist Party’s political strategy to use international networks to advance its global interests. According to official documents, the bureau takes special interest in people of Chinese descent living abroad, viewing them as powerful external threats as well as potential allies. 

Kwan alleges that his organization was targeted by United Front astroturfing: a new group arose with a very similar name, and it started issuing press statements and interviews that regularly opposed his own group’s messages, while boasting of connections to the Chinese consulate in Toronto. 

He and others also became suspicious when they saw buses of people arrive at federal political nomination meetings to support candidates who were known to shy away from critical messages about China, or when buses of international students in Toronto arrived to participate in counterprotests defending China’s position. 

Sources in the Chinese-Canadian community tell the Star that they have sent many tips, including copies of email correspondence, to RCMP and CSIS. In 2018, Mounties in Metro Vancouver probed allegations that the Chinese-state-linked Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society sent out messages on the social-media app WeChat urging chat group members to vote for certain candidates in mayoral elections — and offering a $20 transportation subsidy. But police later said they found no evidence of voter manipulation. 

“Even if there was proof the Chinese consulate or its proxies paid for transportation or paid people directly to support certain candidates or to protest, it’s hard to explain to Canadians the nefarious ways the Chinese state uses its tools and resources to try to influence our democracy,” Kwan said. While media had published the leaked WeChat screenshots offering the $20 subsidy, it is unclear why RCMP found that this was insufficient evidence of voter manipulation. 

And these are relatively subtle forms of influence, Kwan said: Beijing’s blunt tactic of coercion on Canadians is to threaten their friends, family members or business connections in China. 

He and others collected testimony and documentation, and published a report in 2017 with Amnesty International on a “sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment aimed at activists working on China-related human rights issues in Canada, in circumstances suggesting the involvement or backing of Chinese government officials.”

“We sent copies to the RCMP and to the Prime Minister’s Office, but it was ignored,” Kwan said. 

Numerous reports emerge over years

The report detailed threatening phone calls and physical confrontations of Canadians, improper detention of Canadians at Chinese airports, threats of retaliation against relatives living in China and online smear and disinformation campaigns. 

This was followed by a cascade of research from academics and advocacy groups, including Alliance Canada Hong Kong, journalist Jonathan Manthorpe’s book “Claws of the Panda,” and Australian researcher Alex Joske warning that Beijing’s foreign interference is “likely widespread” in Canada. 

Canada does not have laws or protocols in place for police and CSIS to work together with different levels of government to counter foreign interference. Following reports of intimidation of Canadians of Sikh heritage by Indian authorities, Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety told the Star that “anyone who feels threatened online or in person should report these incidents to their local police.”

But many Canadians have told the Star that their reports of threats from foreign actors to police have gone largely unheeded. A Chinese student in Quebec only had two followers on Twitter, but he still didn’t escape Beijing’s tactics, which he alleged included tracking his IP address and threatening his father living in China. 

Chinese-Canadian reporters and others would whisper to each other the names of Canadian politicians of various backgrounds who they saw having meetings or attending events with Chinese consulate staff. But without support from Canadian law enforcement, they didn’t dare air those observations publicly, Kwan said.

Last year Victor Ho — the former editor of Sing Tao Daily, Canada’s largest Chinese-Canadian newspaper, who has been outspoken on pressures from the Chinese government on Canadian media — was placed on a “wanted list” by security officials in Hong Kong. He was accused of violating the territory’s National Security Law, which applies to anyone in the world regardless of nationality. 

In the wake of recent reporting from the Globe and Mail and Global TV on leaked CSIS warnings, spy chief David Vigneault tolda parliamentary committee that a registry of foreign officials or agents would make it easier to track activities of people intent on influencing or interfering in Canadian elections on behalf of foreign governments.

“CSIS has been talking about foreign influence for the last few years — foreign interference — and I think that tool would be useful,” Vigneault said last Thursday. “It wouldn’t solve all our problems, but it would increase transparency.”

The most aggressive actors trying to influence Canadian lawmakers and voters are China, Russia and Iran, which try to coerce or pressure people within expat communities abroad — or leverage sympathizers in Canada — to exert influence on elections, nomination contests or public debate, the committee heard.

Trudeau is facing increasing pressure from the public and opposition parties to launch a public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference. Until Monday he had rejected calls for a probe, and said “there are ongoing public committee hearings … where those heads of agencies and people responsible for safety and integrity of our elections are testifying publicly on all the work that’s being done.” 

The RCMP told Parliament last week they are not investigating any allegations related to foreign interference from the 2021 federal election. 

The Globe and Mail and Global TV have separately reported several specific details about what happened in both the 2019 and 2021 campaigns. Among them: China being behind the nomination of Liberal candidate Han Dong ahead of the 2019 election; undeclared cash donations to candidates; schemes to have some of that money paid back to donors; having businesses hire Chinese students who were then lent out to volunteer and intimidation campaigns.

China has disputed all of the allegations.

The Star has not verified the reports independently, and security officials at the committee repeatedly declined to do the same, saying they couldn’t “validate” or “speak to” the allegations.

Sheng Xue was among those who fled to Canada from Beijing following the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-reform demonstrators in 1989. Here, she continued to work as a journalist and became vice-president of the Canadian chapter of the Federation for a Democratic China. 

“The Canadian chapter has been quite active for the past 33 years. We’ve had yearly closed-door meetings with Global Affairs Canada,” Sheng told the Star.

Advocacy in Canada for human rights in China used to be a popular and mainstream activity among immigrants from China, she said. But Beijing soon turned to threatening their family members back in China to try to stifle their activities. 

“It was very effective. We lost a lot of members. When your parents or relatives are being harassed and threatened, most people won’t be able to stand it. Especially those who still wanted to go back to China to visit their families.” 

Sheng did not bow to this pressure, and in September 1996, she was arrested by Chinese police when she tried to visit her mother in Beijing. She was interrogated by more than a dozen officers for 24 hours, and then deported back to Canada. 

“My Canadian passport saved me. I have never been able to go back to China and my dad passed away in 1992 and I couldn’t see him. Luckily, my mom was able to come to Canada and she lived with me for many years,” said Sheng, who is now in her early sixties. 

Smear campaign includes fake nude photos 

She thought she would be safe living with her mother in Greater Toronto, But since 2014, the award-winning writer has faced a relentless online smear campaign, including fake nude photos and a photo that seemed to show her kissing a man who is not her husband. 

“This started in 2014, the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. In addition to the online posts and images, thousands of emails were sent to my contacts with the material and if you Google my name in Chinese, there are still a lot of fake nude photos as well as my phone number listed in fake online ads offering sex services,” she said. The Star has viewed copies of the emails and photographs. 

Sheng went to police all over North America to plead for help. 

“I remember going to a police station in Mississauga to report, and the officer just advised me to change my phone number. I told him, ‘Whatever new number I choose, they will find it out right away.’” 

“This is how the Chinese regime makes people feel isolated and hopeless.”

“Of course, the CSIS leaks aren’t surprising. We’ve spent years sharing information to Parliament,” said Uyghur Canadian human-rights advocate Mehmet Tohti, echoing Kwan and Sheng’s frustrations.

In the early 1990s, when the Chinese government was already targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, the biology teacher left China for Turkey and then Canada. For over a decade, as China interned an estimated over a million people in Xinjiang in “re-education camps,” Tohti has been a prominent advocate, co-founding the World Uyghur Congress and working as the executive director of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project based in Ottawa. 

For this work, he alleges, Chinese police threatened his mother at gunpoint and ordered her to not speak to her son again. The last time he spoke with her was on the phone in 2016 — to say goodbye. 

‘It’s time for my cousin to pay the price’

More recently, ahead of an unanimous House of Commons vote last month to accept 10,000 Uyghur refugees, a move that Tohti lobbied for, he said he received a menacing call from Chinese police. 

“They told me that my mother died and my two sisters are dead and it’s time for my cousin to pay the price. The message was basically that my family paid a heavy price and if I don’t stop, my cousin will be in danger. It’s a direct threat and it’s still ongoing,” Tohti told the Star. He said his mother had passed away from a stroke, but he believes his sisters are still alive. 

Canada, along with other Western nations, imposed sanctions on high-ranking officials in China in 2021 over what it said were “gross and systematic human rights violations” against Uyghurs. 

Tohti said he has spoken to the Canadian government at least 30 times, and while he is appreciative of existing support for Uyghurs, he thinks it is time for Ottawa to do more to protect them once they’re living in Canada, where they remain vulnerable to persecution. 

Advocates tell the Star that any new approach to countering foreign interference in Canada should involve a whole-of-government approach and apply to all countries and not just China, since local-level politicians and grassroots community groups are as vulnerable to intimidation and meddling as federal politicians.

“What’s happening is the hijacking of families back home to push Canadian citizens in Canada to live under the norms of the Chinese Communist Party and not as free citizens of Canada,” Tohti said. 

Kwan said with a sigh: “We have been talking about the same things in the (leaked) CSIS reports for years but getting much less attention.” 

“If it takes secret spy documents to finally get people’s attention, that is fine.” 

Source: Chinese interference in Canada? Chinese Canadians say they reported it for years — and were ignored

China’s Head of Ethnic Affairs Pan Yue Is Pushing Hard-line Policies

Hard to see any positive changes coming with respect to treatment of minorities:

Last October, China’s top officials convened the once-every-five-year 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to determine the leadership and political trajectory of the country for the next half decade. Xi Jinping secured a precedent-breaking third term as paramount leader of the party, confirming expectations that the congress would cement his authority and concentrate power in a single person to a degree not seen since the era of former leader Mao Zedong. Several high-profile promotions and demotions signaled that officials’ political survival depends on personal loyalty to Xi and that aggressive implementation of his policies is key to career advancement. Among the officials garnering Xi’s support is Pan Yue, who was elected as a full member of the CCP’s Central Committee.

Since last June, Pan has been head of the State Council’s National Ethnic Affairs Commission, which is responsible for policy concerning China’s “minority nationalities,” the 55 officially recognized ethnic groups who collectively represent around 8.9 percent of the total population. For decades, the CCP’s ethnic policies have oscillated between multiculturalism—recognizing and even celebrating distinct ethnic identities—and assimilationism—denying and destroying them—with significant variation at the local level. The Chinese term minzu captures this policy range: It refers both to individual “nationalities” or ethnic groups—like Han, Uyghurs, and Tibetans—and to the overarching “Chinese nation” or zhonghua minzu, which comprises all 56 (55 minorities plus the Han majority) groups.

Pan’s election to the Central Committee suggests that the Xi administration’s hard turn toward assimilationism will likely continue and perhaps intensify. Pan is the second Han official in a row to head the National Ethnic Affairs Commission, which for nearly 70 years had been led by a party member from a non-Han nationality. Since the beginning of Xi’s second term in 2017, measures related to “managing” ethnic minorities have run the gamut, from destruction of what officials deem “foreign” architectural elements such as mosque domes and the removal of Arabic signage on restaurant awnings and storefronts to the imposition of Mandarin as the sole language of instruction for certain subjects in some schools. Repression has been most severe in Tibet and Xinjiang, where local populations have been subjected to extreme restrictions on movement, constant surveillance, mass internment, and—as has been reported of Uyghur women—forced sterilization.

Pan did not initiate these policies, but he is poised to extend and expand them. Over a winding path to the center of Chinese political power—in a career spanning official media, economic restructuring, and environmental policy as well as a stint at the United Front Work Department—he has repeatedly staked out bold policy positions. He is a talented politician and an effective communicator who has long espoused assimilationist views, even before it was politically fashionable to do so. If Xi were looking for a lieutenant with the vision and policy entrepreneurship needed to guide and accelerate assimilation in his third term, then he has found one in Pan.

To the extent that Pan is known outside of China, his renown is due to the public profile he cultivated as an official in China’s environmental protection agency from 2003 to 2016. He won accolades from foreign media outlets and organizations for terminating development projects with powerful political and business support for their violations of environmental standards. He is regarded as the architect of the “Green GDP” system, which incorporated environmental harm into metrics for economic growth. Then-Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s administration endorsed this scheme in 2004 but ultimately abandoned it, reportedly due to opposition from provincial officials who resented the additional performance criteria it entailed. When Pan missed out on a promotion in 2007 and was ousted from his position as spokesperson for the then-Ministry of Environmental Protection in 2008, some observers speculated that he was being sidelined due to his zealous regulation policies.

But his stint as an environmental crusader came only after a long and well-connected career in official life. Born a “princeling” in Nanjing, China, in 1960 as the son of a senior military official, Pan began his career with several years of military service. During the 1980s and early 1990s, he held editorial positions at official outlets, including Economic Daily and China Youth Daily. His networks in Chinese officialdom came through his own lineage as well as through a former marriage to the daughter of the powerful Adm. Liu Huaqing. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Pan held posts in the Economic Restructuring Office of the State Council and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, helping manage China’s transition from a planned to a market economy. Like many Chinese officials seeking to distinguish their resumes, Pan pursued an advanced degree, receiving a doctorate in history in 2002 from Central China Normal University.

Pan has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to make a name for himself through bold and controversial policy proposals. After the attempted coup against then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991, Pan organized a conference of fellow princelings to formulate a strategy to secure CCP rule. The resulting manifesto, “Realistic Responses and Strategic Options for China After the Soviet Upheaval,” which Pan helped produce, called on the party to focus on ensuring social stability, exert greater control over state assets, and guard against emerging dangers—including radical economic reform and ethnic separatism. Pan elaborated some of these ideas in another piece in 2001, which circulated among high-ranking officials, on the need for the CCP to adapt and evolve from a revolutionary party to a ruling one. Later that year, he penned an essay criticizing the party’s doctrinaire hostility to religion, for which he was censured.

Pan’s tenacity has been politically costly at times but never fatal. His career slumped following the failure of the Green GDP initiative but has bounced back under the Xi administration. In 2015, Pan was again promoted within the then-Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the following year, he became party secretary and executive vice president of the Central Institute of Socialism, a ministry-level department, where he introduced new programming on Chinese civilization and launched a curriculum dedicated to promoting a unified national consciousness. He also held high-level positions in the United Front Work Department, the CCP bureau responsible for building relationships with and controlling groups and institutions outside of the party, as well as the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, the government agency in charge of cultivating ties with the Chinese diaspora, before his appointment as director of the National Ethnic Affairs Commission last June. Last summer, he joined a handful of other top officials accompanying Xi on a trip to Xinjiang.

We can only speculate as to why Pan’s political fortunes improved so dramatically since Xi came to power. One possible factor is that both men appreciate the political utility of Chinese tradition for constructing a unified and confident national identity. The use of culturally resonant symbols to frame political claims and mobilize the masses has long been a technique of communist power and is common to many political systems around the world. But self-styled revolutionary regimes must balance appealing to tradition and transforming society. Throughout the Maoist period, and especially during the Cultural Revolution, the CCP cast traditional culture as backward and oppressive. Since then—and especially under Xi, however—the party has forsaken much of its older Marxist rhetoric for a discourse of Chinese civilization, rebranding itself as a champion of tradition and celebrating once-abjured icons like Confucius.

Pan was an early advocate of using Chinese tradition to secure CCP control. The manifesto “Realistic Responses and Strategic Options” noted the diminished appeal of communist ideology among the Chinese people and called for the creative adaptation of traditional Chinese culture to safeguard China’s socialist system. In his 2001 essay on reforming the party’s religious policy, Pan similarly advocated harnessing religion to reinforce political control. In addition to theorizing the political utility of engaging with Chinese tradition, Pan has modeled what such engagement should look like. During his years of service in the environmental sector, he wrote extensively on the importance of the environment in classical Chinese philosophy. He synthesized his interpretation of Chinese tradition into the concept of “ecological civilization,” a state of harmony among individual humans, society, and the natural world, which he touts as one of China’s historic contributions to humanity.

But there is a dark side to what often reads as a humane exegesis of Chinese tradition: an intolerance toward local cultures and people deemed alien and resistant to it as well as a corresponding mandate to assimilate them through “ethnic fusion” or minzu ronghe. The term “ethnic fusion” connotes the adoption of Han customs, institutions, and language by other ethnic groups. It has always been part of the CCP’s lexicon but has mostly been understood as an inevitable outcome of long-term socialist development, not the immediate objective of current policy. In important speeches on ethnic work in the 1990s and 2000s, then-Presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu both affirmed the “long-term” nature of ethnic identities. In the early 2010s, calls for “ethnic fusion” and “ethnic blending” grew louder in some circles as part of a larger debate on so-called second-generation ethnic policy, which focused on promoting a unified Chinese identity over individual ethnic ones. Since becoming president and leader of the party, Xi has elevated forging a common Chinese national consciousness (in some iterations, “forging a sense of community of the Chinese nation”) as a primary goal of “ethnic work” and more recently has stressed the need to promote “ethnic unity and fusion.”

As with his embrace of Chinese tradition, Pan was early in his unqualified endorsement of “ethnic fusion.” He elaborated this concept in his 2002 dissertation, “Research on the History and Actual Situation of Migrant Settlement of China’s Western Region,” a proposal to settle 50 million Han from eastern and central China into western China over the following half century. Pan argued that large-scale migration would address multiple crises China faces: easing the pressures of overpopulation in the country’s eastern and central regions, facilitating exploitation of natural resources while advancing the country’s sustainable development, and eliminating the national security threat of ethnic separatism by eroding the differences between ethnic groups and promoting “ethnic fusion.”

Pan devoted two chapters of his dissertation to identifying precedents for his proposal. He stressed the need to learn from the experience of other countries, citing the benefits reaped from large-scale migration: anti-desertification in Israel; resource exploitation in Russia; and skyrocketing agricultural production, transportation capacity, and geopolitical power in the United States. “Westward expansion,” he writes, “not only allowed America to tentatively complete its modernization but also led it to become a great power playing an increasingly important role in the world. … We absolutely can draw on some of America’s policies and measures as a reference. … We must, as quickly as possible, formulate a migration strategy with Chinese characteristics.” Pan also found ample precedent for his proposal in Chinese history, from the westward expansion of the ancient Han dynasty to the Qing dynasty’s conquest of Xinjiang. Pan linked his proposal to a longer tradition of Chinese colonization by frequently using the term tunken, a classical reference to settlement through troop garrison and land reclamation.

There is a certain ambiguity to “ethnic fusion” in Pan’s writings. On one hand, it is an inevitable outcome of history. He declares in his 2001 essay on reforming the party’s religious policy that “no matter the strength of foreign religions, whenever they enter China, they will all be integrated [xiang rong] into Chinese culture, without exception.” On the other hand, not all cultural and religious traditions are equally assimilable. On this point, Pan is particularly critical of Tibetan Buddhism and Islam, both of which he describes as “unreformed,” theocratic, and irrational. He sees Islam as especially dangerous. As he writes in his dissertation:

“Religions originally possessed a rather strong exclusionary character. Even today, the exclusionary character of Islam, which has not undergone religious reform, remains extraordinarily fierce. Many practitioners still believe in fundamentalism. From the spiritual to the material, from behavior to appearance, all the way to etiquette, diet, and so forth—many of their standards are completely based on ancient doctrines and admonishments. Many are suspicious of everything, refuse to integrate with other cultures, and do not trust any foreign political authority or external collectivity.”

Many scholars attribute ethnic tensions and unrest in Xinjiang to a combination of factors, including state repression, state-backed Han immigration and settlement, employment discrimination against Uyghurs and other non-Han peoples, and the dominance of extractive industries in the local economy. These factors exacerbate economic inequality and unemployment and, in some cases, may enhance the appeal of militancy and violent extremism against the local security apparatus as well as civilians. For Pan, however, the problem is Islam itself, which he views as stubbornly unreformed. He presents the problem as especially acute in areas where Muslims are highly concentrated—in spite of what he sees as the benevolent policies of Beijing’s leaders. As stated in his dissertation:

“Since China’s founding in 1949, the central government has extended extremely favorable treatment to minority nationalities; however, when it comes to Islam, no matter how many advantages it provides and no matter how favorable its treatment may be, the results have been far from ideal, and ethnic separatist activities remain incessant. Wherever Han people are concentrated in large numbers, there is little unrest, such as in northern Xinjiang; by contrast, wherever Muslims are concentrated in large numbers, unrest is greater, as in southern Xinjiang.”

Pan casts Islam as a spatial and demographic problem as much as a cultural or ideological one. It is unsurprising, then, that his proposed solution involves resettlement on a massive scale.

If Islam and Tibetan Buddhism are problems in Pan’s framework, so too is the system that has permitted them to persist unreformed and unassimilated. In his dissertation, Pan takes direct aim at what he characterizes as the shortcomings of the party’s conventional approach to ethnic affairs. He elaborates the damaging consequences of what he sees as excessive respect for linguistic diversity, criticizing the creation of writing systems for nationalities that previously lacked them—once a point of pride for the party: “Our goal is to strengthen ethnic unity and fusion; rather than spending energy creating ethnic scripts that never existed, it would be better to promote Putonghua [standard Mandarin], which is used throughout the country.” He also warns of the demographic danger posed by the implementation of family planning regulations (such as the one-child policy), which often exempt minority nationalities from limits on childbearing.

Pan saves his sharpest criticism for China’s system of ethnic territorial autonomy. Under this system, minority nationalities ostensibly enjoy representation in local government and certain cultural rights, including the official use of their native language, in areas where they are a local majority or are relatively populous, such as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, and Inner Mongolia, among others. The CCP historically has touted the system of territorial autonomy as proof of its egalitarian rule. But Pan regards the institutionalization of cultural and demographic distinctions inherent in autonomous administration as a driver of ethnic separatism and a threat to national security. Although Pan acknowledges the system’s important contributions to ethnic equality and development, he unambiguously affirms the necessity of moving beyond it, stating that “the system of ethnic territorial autonomy is not the optimal system, less still one that can be a permanent system.”

Pan’s appointment to lead the National Ethnic Affairs Commission and his promotion to the Central Committee mark the convergence of his long-stated views on ethnic fusion and the more recent assimilationist turn in Chinese ethnic governance. Of course, what Pan wrote in his 2002 dissertation will not necessarily determine how he will handle ethnic governance today. But there is good reason to believe that Pan remains committed to “ethnic fusion” and is continuing to promote it as he moves toward the inner ring of Chinese political power. In a 2019 speech at the Central Institute of Socialism, Pan reiterated nearly word for word his 2001 assertion of the inevitability of assimilation, stating that “no matter the strength of foreign religions, whenever they enter China, they will all be integrated into Chinese civilization.” In one of his first published statements since the 2022 Party Congress, he called for promoting “contact, interaction, and blending” among ethnic groups, adopting language regarding ethnic policy codified in the CCP’s top journal. Recently, the National Ethnic Affairs Commission has also partnered with the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce to launch the “Private Enterprises Entering the Borderlands” initiative, meant to fulfill the party’s directive of securing China’s frontier by encouraging privately owned companies to invest in the border regions, deepen cross-region contact, and “create a platform and vehicle for promoting contact, interaction, and blending of all nationalities.”

The colonial character of this initiative is stunning yet also familiar in light of Pan’s earlier writing. We must wait to see how the project develops; the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is almost certainly making the implementation of any preconceived plans more complicated. But time and again, Pan has demonstrated a willingness to think big and take bold action—the darker side of the environmentalism that foreign observers have repeatedly praised him for. As we watch him take his next steps, journalists and China scholars need to grapple with the fact that a celebrated environmentalist is now at the center of one of China’s most notorious policy arenas and imagine the chilling possibilities of ethnic governance at an ecological scale.

Aaron Glasserman is a postdoctoral research associate at the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China at Princeton University.

Source: China’s Head of Ethnic Affairs Pan Yue Is Pushing Hard-line Policies

Take political interference claims seriously, Chinese community leaders say

Is it only the PM and his supporters that aren’t taking this seriously? The drip-drip of evidence, along with the refusal for some form of public enquiry, continues to undermine trust in the governing party and government more generally:

It isn’t racist to raise concerns about foreign interference in Canadian elections, say Chinese community leaders, adding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should investigate concerns openly.

When Trudeau said recent media attention to foreign interference in elections was racist, he was using a deflection technique also employed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said Bill Chu of the Chinese-Canadian Concerned Group on the Chinese Communist Party’s Human Rights Violations.

“He should be more concerned about national security, he should be more concerned about sovereignty,” Chu said.

Chu, a longtime anti-racism advocate in British Columbia, said the comments also ultimately conflate Chinese people with the CCP, a tactic China’s government often uses to try to silence criticism by trying to spin it into an instance of racism.

On Monday, after more than a week of political pressure over explosive news reports about China’s attempts to influence Canadian elections, Trudeau said the most recent attention on Toronto Liberal MP, Han Dong, stems from racism.

“One of the things we’ve seen unfortunately over the past years is a rise in anti-Asian racism linked to the pandemic, and concerns being arisen around people’s loyalties,” Trudeau said Monday in Mississauga.

“I want to make everyone understand fully: Han Dong is an outstanding member of our team, and suggestions that he is somehow not loyal to Canada should not be entertained.”

Last week, Global News reported Dong was a “witting affiliate” in Beijing’s attempts to help him become the Liberal candidate and run for the party in North York.

The report cited unnamed sources who said that Canada’s spy agency — the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) — started tracking Dong in 2019. Officials also suggested to Trudeau’s office that the Liberals should drop Han as a candidate due to the concerns.

Trudeau has said CSIS cannot direct political parties on what candidates they can run in elections.

“Instead of allowing the CSIS input to stand he’s actually allowing the input of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to stand.

“The PRC has been using the racism card for the longest time,” Chu said.

Meanwhile, Fenella Sung of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong said she doesn’t think the news stories come from racism.

“I would encourage people to no longer pull the racist card out every time those kind of legitimate questions are asked about our politicians,” Sung said. “You need to look at the facts.”

Sung said Chinese Canadians are more vulnerable to infiltration by CCP officials because of the shared language, culture and communities, making it more important for Ottawa to address the issue head-on rather than allow a cloud of suspicion to hang over them.

She said the government is throwing Chinese Canadians under the bus by trying to subdue the conversation with allegations of racism when it should be getting everything out in the open.

A full independent inquiry with subpoena power to investigate the allegations is in order, adding such an inquiry would be beneficial to Canada’s Chinese communities, Sung said.

Audrey Champoux, press secretary for the office of the Minister of Public Safety, said in a statement the federal government is “soberly aware of incidents in which hostile foreign actors have attempted to monitor, intimidate or threaten Canadians and those living here.”

It said it uses all tools to respond to such threats.

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said Trudeau’s reaction to the unfolding concerns suggests he’s “getting desperate” and the racism allegations would be welcomed by the Chinese embassy as it echoes their own lines of deflection.

Saint-Jacques said Canada is risking its international partnerships by not acting fast and taking the allegations seriously.

“Once your security services tell you ‘watch out this candidate has close links with the Chinese government,’ and probably that comes with some details to buttress the allegations, then you have to take this seriously,” he said.

Source: Take political interference claims seriously, Chinese community leaders say

CSIS documents reveal Chinese strategy to influence 2021 election

Not a good take on the government’s (lack of) response and the naiveté of some:

China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing.

The full extent of the Chinese interference operation is laid bare in both secret and top-secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents viewed by The Globe and Mail that cover the period before and after the September, 2021, election that returned the Liberals to office.

The CSIS reports were shared among senior government officials and Canada’s Five Eyes intelligence allies of the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Some of this intelligence was also shared with French and German spy services.

Over the past decade, China, under President Xi Jinping, has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy as it seeks to expand its political, economic and military influence around the world.

MPs on the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee are already looking into allegations that China interfered in the 2019 election campaign to support 11 candidates, most of them Liberal, in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Drawn from a series of CSIS intelligence-gathering operations, the documents illustrate how an orchestrated machine was operating in Canada with two primary aims: to ensure that a minority Liberal government was returned in 2021, and that certain Conservative candidates identified by China were defeated.

The documents say the Chinese Communist Party leadership in Beijing was “pressuring its consulates to create strategies to leverage politically [active] Chinese community members and associations within Canadian society.” Beijing uses Canadian organizations to advocate on their behalf “while obfuscating links to the People’s Republic of China.”

The classified reports viewed by The Globe reveal that China’s former consul-general in Vancouver, Tong Xiaoling, boasted in 2021 about how she helped defeat two Conservative MPs.

But despite being seen by China as the best leader for Canada, Beijing also wanted to keep Mr. Trudeau’s power in check – with a second Liberal minority in Parliament as the ideal outcome.

In early July, 2021 – eight weeks before election day – one consular official at an unnamed Chinese diplomatic mission in Canada said Beijing “likes it when the parties in Parliament are fighting with each other, whereas if there is a majority, the party in power can easily implement policies that do not favour the PRC.”

While the Chinese diplomat expressed unhappiness that the Liberals had recently become critical of China, the official added that the party is better than the alternatives. Canada-China relations hit their lowest point since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre after December, 2018, when Beijing locked up two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Ottawa’s arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive on an extradition request from the United States.

Most important, the intelligence reports show that Beijing was determined that the Conservatives did not win. China employed disinformation campaigns and proxies connected to Chinese-Canadian organizations in Vancouver and the GTA, which have large mainland Chinese immigrant communities, to voice opposition to the Conservatives and favour the Trudeau Liberals.

The CSIS documents reveal that Chinese diplomats and their proxies, including some members of the Chinese-language media, were instructed to press home that the Conservative Party was too critical of China and that, if elected, it would follow the lead of former U.S. president Donald Trump and ban Chinese students from certain universities or education programs.

“This will threaten the future of the voters’ children, as it will limit their education opportunities,” the CSIS report quoted the Chinese consulate official as saying. The official added: “The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC can support.”

CSIS also explained how Chinese diplomats conduct foreign interference operations in support of political candidates and elected officials. Tactics include undeclared cash donations to political campaigns or having business owners hire international Chinese students and “assign them to volunteer in electoral campaigns on a full-time basis.”

Sympathetic donors are also encouraged to provide campaign contributions to candidates favoured by China – donations for which they receive a tax credit from the federal government. Then, the CSIS report from Dec. 20, 2021 says, political campaigns quietly, and illegally, return part of the contribution – “the difference between the original donation and the government’s refund” – back to the donors.

A key part of their interference operation is to influence vulnerable Chinese immigrants in Canada. The intelligence reports quote an unnamed Chinese consulate official as saying it’s “easy to influence Chinese immigrants to agree with the PRC’s stance.”

China wants to build acceptance abroad for its claims on Taiwan, a self-ruled island that it considers a breakaway province and still reserves the right to annex by force. And it seeks to play down its conduct in Xinjiang, where the office of former UN Human Rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet last year said China has committed “serious human-rights violations” in the region, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

Similarly it wants to generate support for a draconian 2020 national-security law to silence opposition and dissent in Hong Kong, a former British colony that Beijing had once promised would be allowed to retain Western-style civil liberties for 50 years.

Beijing also seeks to quell foreign support for Tibet, a region China invaded and annexed more than 70 years ago, and to discourage opposition to Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea and sweeping maritime claims in the region.

A month after the September, 2021, vote, CSIS reported that it was “well-known within the Chinese-Canadian community of British Columbia” that Ms. Tong, then the Vancouver consul-general, “wanted the Liberal Party to win the 2021 election,” one of the reports said.

CSIS noted that Ms. Tong, who returned to China in July, 2022, and former consul Wang Jin made “discreet and subtle efforts” to encourage members of Chinese-Canadian organizations to rally votes for the Liberals and defeat Conservative candidates.

CSIS said Mr. Wang has direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), a vast organization that uses mostly covert and often manipulative operations to influence overseas ethnic Chinese communities and foreign governments. CSIS said Mr. Wang served as an intermediary between the UFWD and Chinese-Canadian community leaders in British Columbia.

In early November, 2021, CSIS reported, Ms. Tong discussed the defeat of a Vancouver-area Conservative, whom she described as a “vocal distractor” of the Chinese government. A national-security source said the MP was Kenny Chiu. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the source, who risks prosecution under the Security of Information Act.

The source said Mr. Chiu was targeted in retaliation for his criticism of China’s crackdown in Hong Kong and his 2021 private member’s bill aiming to establish a registry of foreign agents, an effort inspired by similar Australian legislation to combat foreign interference. The United States has a long-standing registry; Canada is still studying the matter.

Mr. Chiu, who was elected to represent Steveston–Richmond East in 2019, lost the 2021 federal election to Liberal candidate Parm Bains and is widely believed to be a victim of a Beijing-led online disinformation campaign.

According to CSIS, Ms. Tong talked about China’s efforts to influence mainland Chinese-Canadian voters against the Conservative Party. She said Mr. Chiu’s loss proved “their strategy and tactics were good, and contributed to achieving their goals while still adhering to the local political customs in a clever way.”

In mid-November, CSIS reported that an unnamed Chinese consular official said the loss of Mr. Chiu and fellow Conservative MP Alice Wong substantiated the growing electoral influence of mainland Chinese-Canadians.

Former federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has alleged that foreign interference by China in the 2021 election campaign, using disinformation, cost the party eight or nine seats. The Liberals won 160 seats compared with 119 for the Conservatives, 32 for the Bloc Québécois and 25 for the NDP, while the Greens picked up two seats.

While the Conservative Party’s overall share of the popular vote increased slightly in the election, the party lost a number of ridings with significant Chinese-Canadian populations. These included the defeat of incumbents such as Mr. Chiu, Richmond Centre MP Ms. Wong and Markham–Unionville’s Bob Saroya.

However, the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force set up by the Trudeau government to monitor threats to federal elections never issued any public warning about foreign interference during the 2019 or 2021 campaigns.

Mr. Trudeau has said it found no meddling, telling the Commons in November of last year that the task force “determined that the integrity of our elections was not compromised in 2019 or 2021.” He also told reporters that “Canadians can be reassured that our election integrity held” in the two elections.

The Globe has reported that the Prime Minister received a national-security briefing last fall in which he was told China’s consulate in Toronto had targeted 11 candidates in the 2019 federal election. CSIS Director David Vigneault told Mr. Trudeau that there was no indication that China’s interference efforts had helped elect any of them, despite the consulate’s attempts to promote the campaigns on social media and in Chinese-language media outlets.

Nine Liberal and two Conservative candidates were favoured by Beijing, according to the national-security source. The source said the two Conservative candidates were viewed as friends of China.

Source: CSIS documents reveal Chinese strategy to influence 2021 election

CSIS warned Trudeau about Toronto-area politician’s alleged ties to Chinese diplomats

Fortunately, the truth generally always emerges; unfortunately, it appears the PM and government didn’t take the warnings seriously:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior aides were warned on at least two occasions that government MPs should be cautious in their political dealings with former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan because of alleged ties to China’s consulate in Toronto, national-security sources say.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has a dossier on Mr. Chan that contains information on his activities in the 2019 and 2021 federal election campaigns and meetings with suspected Chinese intelligence operatives, according to the two security sources. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the sources, who risk prosecution under the Security of Information Act.

Mr. Chan, now deputy mayor of the city of Markham, told The Globe that he is a loyal Canadian and accused CSIS of character assassination, saying they never once interviewed him about his alleged involvement with the Chinese consulate.

“Your own statement to me about a recent briefing by CSIS to Prime Minister Trudeau, serves only to ignite xenophobia and cause continued, unwarranted and irreparable damage to my reputation and the safety of my family,” he said.

He added: “CSIS has never interviewed me regarding their false and unsubstantiated allegations. However, I am aware that they have conducted intimidating interviews with my friends and acquaintances and then instructed them to keep their mouths shut.”

Mr. Chan, 71, was elected as a regional councillor in Markham’s Oct. 24 election last year and, as the councillor with the most votes, he also became deputy mayor. In 2018, he retired from provincial politics, where his last post was minister of international trade for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government. He has been a key organizer and fundraiser in Ontario’s Chinese-Canadian communities for the federal and provincial Liberal parties.

CSIS has observed Mr. Chan meeting in the past years with Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei, whom one source describes as a “suspected intelligence actor,” and Beijing’s former vice-consul-general Zhuang Yaodong. CSIS believes Mr. Zhuang handled security files out of the Toronto consulate, the source said. Mr. Zhao’s code-name for Mr. Chan is “The Minister,” the source said.

In 2019, Mr. Chan had a number of meetings with Mr. Zhao that were described in a CSIS 2020 briefing package as “clandestine in nature” and were allegedly election-related, the source said. In that same year, CSIS observed Mr. Chan and an associate meeting with Mr. Zhao and Mr. Zhuang at a Chinese restaurant.

Mr. Chan said in his statement to The Globe that his meetings with Chinese consular officials are not unusual for politicians. He also said that he met frequently with consular officials from many Asian and Southeast Asian countries in 2019 relating to business activities abroad.

“Meetings to discuss business and trade between Consular officials and Canadians, politicians or otherwise, are a common practice,” he said. “Just in case you were not aware, I met a few days ago with the Deputy Consul-General from China in Toronto and Mr. Wei Zhao.”

The source said Mr. Zhao, who came to Canada in 2018, has also been observed meeting with a number of constituency staffers for Liberal MPs in Toronto, including an assistant for International Trade Minister Mary Ng. Some of those aides were asked by Mr. Zhao to keep their MPs away from pro-Taiwan events, according to the source.

CSIS Director David Vigneault flagged Mr. Chan’s return to public office during a fall 2022 briefing that he delivered to the Prime Minister and his national security adviser, Jody Thomas, on Chinese election interference. He cautioned that Liberal MPs should be vigilant in their dealings with Mr. Chan, according to two other sources. The Globe is not identifying them because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters.

In that same briefing, Mr. Vigneault said China’s consulate in Toronto had targeted 11 candidates from the Greater Toronto Area, a mix of Liberals and Conservatives, in the 2019 federal election, the sources said. But the sources said the CSIS director told Mr. Trudeau there was no indication China’s interference efforts had helped elect any of them, despite the consulate’s attempts to promote the campaigns on social media and in Chinese-language media outlets.

The Globe has previously reported that Mr. Chan had been on CSIS’s radar, stretching as far back as 2010, because of alleged close ties to the Chinese consulate. He had also been involved in community events with leaders of the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations, considered one of the consulate’s unofficial lobby groups.

In a 2019 briefing for the Prime Minister’s Office, one of the national-security sources and a government source say, security officials also flagged Mr. Chan’s Chinese consular connections soon after he was recruited by Ms. Ng to serve as her campaign co-chair in that year’s federal election.

In the 2019 briefing, security officials told senior PMO staff, including Mr. Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, that Mr. Chan should be on “your radar” and that “someone should reach out to Mary to be extra careful,” according to one source. That security briefing also dealt with foreign interference, tactics and Chinese tradecraft, the source said.

Ms. Ng told The Globe that no one from the PMO told her to steer clear of Mr. Chan, who also co-chaired her 2017 by-election campaign when she replaced veteran Liberal MP John McCallum. The Prime Minister opened the Markham-Thornhill riding for Ms. Ng, who had earlier served as his director of appointments, by naming Mr. McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China.

Mr. Trudeau later fired Mr. McCallum after he criticized the American request for Canada to detain and extradite Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

In the interview with The Globe, Ms. Ng said that Mr. Chan never actually took up the role of campaign co-chair in 2019 because, she said, there were other capable volunteers to help.

“We were working with so many members of my community – the Chinese members of our community, Tamil members of my community, Muslim Canadian and Jewish Canadians – so really it was really a cross section of people. So the campaign, you know, it just was working as it was and I felt very supported by a lot of people who were on the ground,” she said.

She added: “I haven’t talked to Michael in quite some time.”

A confidant of Ms. Ng said the MP quietly dropped Mr. Chan as co-chair after public comments in the late summer of 2019 where he condemned Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators and supported China’s crackdown on them, attributing the protests to alleged manipulation by foreign actors. Mr. Chan agreed to step aside because he did not want his comments to reflect badly on Ms. Ng, the confidant said. The Globe is not naming the confidant, who was not permitted to publicly discuss the matter.

“Your statement to me regarding Mary Ng’s campaign is utterly false,” Mr. Chan said. He did not elaborate.

The confidant also said that Ms. Ng’s assistant, who used to work for Mr. McCallum, likely met Mr. Zhao at Chinese-Canadian community events, often frequented by Chinese consulate officials. He stressed, however, that Ms. Ng has avoided meeting Chinese consulate officials since she became Trade Minister in 2021. She became Minister for Small Business in a cabinet shuffle in 2018.

Ms. Ng received the necessary vetting to obtain a security clearance to serve in cabinet in 2018 when she became Small Business Minister.

In the 2017 by-election campaign, then Chinese consul-general He Wei gathered Chinese-Canadian media at the consulate and urged them to support her election, saying they needed a friend like Mr. McCallum in Ottawa, according to one of the security sources. Ms. Ng’s confidant said she was not aware of the intervention by Mr. He, now a senior official in China’s Foreign Ministry.

CSIS has repeatedly warned that China has been conducting foreign interference operations in Canada, including efforts to influence the political process.

On Thursday, Adam Fisher, CSIS director-general of intelligence assessments, told the House of Commons committee on procedure and house affairs that Beijing uses a variety of means to influence the political process, including attempting to get information from unwitting politicians.

“They are not necessarily relying on trained agents. They use cutouts. They use proxies. They use community groups. They use diaspora organizations and community leaders,” he said.

Cherie Henderson, CSIS assistant director of requirements, also noted that states like China will funnel money directly to proxies.

“They will use whatever avenue they can to achieve their objectives,” she told the committee, which is studying alleged Chinese interference in the 2019 election.

In June, 2015, Mr. Chan was the subject of a Globe investigation, which revealed that CSIS was concerned that the then-minister may have grown too close to the Chinese consulate in Toronto, prompting a senior official to formally caution the province about the minister’s alleged conduct in a 2010 briefing.

Around that time, then-premier Dalton McGuinty dismissed the CSIS warnings as baseless. When The Globe brought the allegations to Ms. Wynne in 2015, she also dismissed them. Mr. Chan wrote in 2015 that “there is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government. This is offensive and totally false.” Mr. Chan has steadfastly denied the assertions made by Canada’s spy agency.

He brought a libel action against The Globe, but the case has not gone to court.

In his recent statement to The Globe, Mr. Chan said the 2015 article was “especially egregious and disheartening for someone like myself who has always put the interests of Canada and Canadians first and foremost, and who has a long, true record of exemplary public service.”

Source: CSIS warned Trudeau about Toronto-area politician’s alleged ties to Chinese diplomats

Angus-Reid: Canadians strongly support COVID-19 test requirement for travellers from China, but also question its efficacy

Of note. 13 percent call the policy racist, perhaps an indicator of the more activist and woke portion of the population (my understanding of the testing requirement is that it is partly due to the unavailability of credible Chinese government data):

China abandoning its COVID zero strategy has caused a ripple of concern around the globe as the world’s second-most populous country faces an unprecedented wave of infections affecting as many as four-in-five people.

In response to rising cases in China, Canada, alongside other countries, set a new requirement this month that travellers form China must produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to takeoff.

Data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds a majority of Canadians supportive of this policy, but unsure if it will be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in their country. Indeed, Canadians who support the policy (77%) outnumber those who are opposed (16%) by nearly five-to-one.

However, those who believe the policy will be effective at reducing COVID-19 infections in Canada (34%) are in the minority. More Canadians believe it will be ineffective (38%) or are unsure (28%). And even among Canadians who support the policy, fewer than half (44%) say they believe it will be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are other concerns with this policy. Some, including the Chinese government, have called it “discriminatory”. Others have gone further and called it “racist”. The pandemic has produced plenty of negative side effects, including discrimination and racism experienced by Canadians of Chinese descent. Some worry this new policy of testing travellers from China will rekindle those ugly sentiments. 

One-in-eight (13%) Canadians call the policy racist. However, more (73%) believe it’s not. Canadians who identify as visible minorities are twice as likely to label the policy racist (23%) than those who don’t identify as such (10%). Still, majorities of those who identify as visible minority (62%) and those who don’t (76%) say the policy is not racist.

More Key Findings:

  • Nearly all (94%) of those who oppose the COVID-19 testing policy for travellers from China believe it won’t be effective at reducing the spread of the virus in Canada.
  • One-in-five (19%) Canadians say they are not travelling at all because they are worried about COVID-19. A further 33 per cent say they have approached their recent travel with caution. Two-in-five (41%) are less worried about the risk of COVID-19 when it comes to travel.
  • Two-in-five (37%) of those who have not travelled at all outside of their province since March 2022 say they aren’t travelling because they worry about catching COVID-19.

Source: Canadians strongly support COVID-19 test requirement for travellers from China, but also question its efficacy