Glavin: Beijing casts shadow of fear across Canada

Terry Glavin and Ian Young have valid points along with a good thought experiment to underline them. The distinction between “Canada’s Chinese community” and Chinese Canadians is an important one:

Serving mainly the city’s ethnic Chinese community, Vancouver’s Tenth Church, in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, has been a venerable Vancouver institution, a refuge for the poor and the marginalized, since the 1930s. During a prayer service on Sunday, Aug. 19, a braying, flag-waving mob gathered outside. It took 20 officers from the Vancouver Police Department to guard the church doors, block passing traffic, and escort the frightened parishioners, at the conclusion of the service, through a gathered crowd of more than 100 people.

That same weekend, in Montreal, another crowd of shouting flag-wavers crashed the Pride parade after bullying organizers into barring a group of LGBTQ Chinese-Canadians from participating in the parade. Leading up to the event, on social media, the bullies had talked about following members of the ethnic Chinese group after the parade, to beat them up. The bullies went on to march alongside the annual Montreal parade in their own column, belting out a fiercely nationalistic song in a disruption of the conventional moment of silence honouring the gay community’s dead from homophobic murders, and from the time of the AIDS crisis.

In the case of the Vancouver incident, the mob was made up of people who had showed up earlier in the day, waving Chinese flags, to disrupt a rally in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement that had assembled outside the Vancouver consulate of the People’s Republic of China. The flag wavers heard about the prayer service, which was devoted to Hong Kong’s protesters, and followed the church-goers from the rally.

At the time, a thought occurred to me. Why wasn’t this a Canada-wide, above-the-fold national news story? That little puzzle is easily solved. Most of the churchgoers were not white people, and neither was the mob. They were all mostly ethnic Chinese. If the mob had been made up of preposterously nationalistic, flag-waving white people, it would have been a shocking story about a horrible, racist incident in Vancouver. But if the Christians had been mostly white people, and the mob mostly ethnic Chinese, the incident would have been lurid grist for racist teeth-grinding mills and radio hotline shouters from coast to coast.

In the case of the Montreal Pride incident, a similar thought occurred to the South China Morning Post’s Ian Young, who has developed a habit of breaking big stories overlooked by Canada’s mainstream news media. Based in Vancouver, Young ended up reporting the most complete story about what had happened in Montreal, and his thought experiment went like this: What if a mob of flag-waving American right-wingers had threatened violence and bullied the Pride organizers into expelling an ethnic Chinese group that wanted to honour Hong Kong’s LGBT community? What if the right-wingers had then crashed the parade with their own marchers, and the song they belted out during the solemn moment of silence was the Star-Spangled Banner?

You can probably imagine how widely and thoroughly a story like that would have been reported, and the sorts of stirring speeches our politicians would have made about it. But the bullies in Montreal were from the same pro-Beijing cohort as the bullies in Vancouver, and the song they sang was March of the Volunteers, the anthem of the People’s Republic of China.

You can’t say that the event in Montreal was racist, or even necessarily homophobic, exactly, just as it can’t be said that what happened in Vancouver was categorically racist, or even a straightforward case of religious bigotry. But it is exceedingly difficult to argue that something kindred to racism is not at least involved to some degree, in the way the news media fails to pay attention to the phenomenon of Beijing’s bullying and influence-peddling in Canada. And in the way our politicians, from all the political parties, if only most egregiously the Liberal Party, pander and placate in these matters.

It may not be exactly racist to resort to the term “Canada’s Chinese community,” but it will get you off on the wrong foot, and if you’re not careful, whatever your intentions, you may end up at least serving a fundamentally racist purpose.

There at nearly 2 million people of Chinese descent in Canada, but until very recently, owing to migration facilitated mainly by the scandal-plagued and now-shuttered federal Immigrant Investor Program, Canada’s ethnic Chinese came almost exclusively from the five Cantonese-speaking communities at the mouth of the Pearl River and adjacent areas around Hong Kong. Among Canada’s immigrants classified as ethnic Chinese, there are at least hundreds of thousands of people that Beijing describes in the argot of Communist Party propaganda as the “five poisons”: Taiwanese, Tibetan and Uighur nationalists, followers of Falun Gong religious practices, and democrats.

Increasingly, these Canadians are living in fear. If they aren’t careful about what they say, their family members back in China will end up being badgered, blacklisted, or worse. This fear is particularly acute among Canada’s Uighurs, whose fellow Muslims in Xinjiang have been interned, as many as 2 million of them, in re-education camps.

The fear is spreading in Canada, now that Hong Kong is in turmoil. It is restraining Canadians from exercising their rights to free speech and freedom of assembly in the Chinese-language news media — now controlled almost entirely by wealthy pro-Beijing interests — and in their decisions about whether to risk raising their voices or attending rallies in support of pro-democracy Hongkongers. It is spreading on university campuses — Beijing closely monitors the activities of Canada’s nearly 80,000 Chinese student-visa holders — and Beijing’s United Front Works Department now effectively controls hundreds of Chinese community and business associations, big and small, across Canada.

In these ways, Beijing is asserting its international reach to undermine the inviolable human rights of hundreds of thousands of Canadian citizens, and by the reckoning of the Geneva-based Human Rights Watch organization, the problem is getting worse. Earlier this year, Amnesty International and a coalition of diaspora groups presented the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with an exhaustive study that describes in detail the threats and harassment Beijing and its operatives in Canada are spreading.

“Definitely, people are afraid to speak out,” Ivy Li of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong told me. “But it is a dilemma. People are also afraid of backlash, that Canadians in the mainstream will think all Chinese Canadians are involved in infiltration, or are working for Beijing, and will be suspect.”

Li, who emigrated from Hong Kong decades ago, said she has personally experienced hostility owing to perfectly well-justified concerns about Chinese money-laundering and the gross distortions created by Chinese capital investment in the real estate market. “But Canadians are very considerate, and we want our society to be more fair and just, and so this fear of being accused of racism, it is part of why mainstream society, especially the media, allows the pro-Beijing supporters to play the racism card.”

The role racism plays in these necessary debates is obviously complex, but even the most virtuous Canadian politicians have been happy to see Chinese immigrants as cash cows, and to regard Chinese Canadians as voting blocs, Li tells me, “and as Chinese diaspora first, rather than as Canadian citizens first.

“This allows Beijing to own at least part of us in Canada, and it means we are left to fend for ourselves against the Chinese government. And that is racist.”

Source: Glavin: Beijing casts shadow of fear across Canada

Vancouver broadcaster resigns after outcry over Hong Kong remarks

Public pressure in action:

An on-air columnist at Vancouver’s most-listened-to Chinese radio station has resigned after making controversial remarks about the protests in Hong Kong, suggesting pro-democracy demonstrators were partly responsible for a violent incident last month.

The remarks last week by Thomas Leung prompted an outcry from members of Vancouver’s sizeable Hong Kong expatriate community. In the opinion piece on Fairchild Radio, Mr. Leung questioned the innocence of some Hong Kong protesters, who were attacked by a mob of suspected triad gangsters.

Mr. Leung called the July 21 attack “a fight between black and white.”

He was referring to protesters, who usually wear black, and the gang of white-shirted men armed with metal rods and wooden poles who beat up anti-government protesters and others inside a subway station in the Yuen Long neighbourhood, injuring about 45 people, including journalists and a legislator.

In his commentary, which has since been removed online by Fairchild but still exists on other websites, Mr. Leung suggests some pro-democracy protesters, brought by a Democratic lawmaker, provoked those in the white shirts.

The remarks, aired through Fairchild Radio’s Cantonese channel AM 1470 last Wednesday, drew huge backlash online. Hong Kongers and Canadians who have ties to Hong Kong condemned Mr. Leung for twisting the facts and called his comments “false.”

They also encouraged each other to complain to the radio station and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), a self-governing regulatory body for Canada’s private broadcasters. According to a note posted on CBSC’s website, the organization has received a large number of complaints about comments made on the News Talk program, which exceeded the CBSC’s technical processing capacities.

Two days after the incident, Fairchild radio announced Mr. Leung’s resignation through a Facebook post.

“Due to personal reasons, Dr. Thomas Leung has submitted his resignation to Fairchild Radio as of August 22, and has left the ‘News Talk’ program on AM 1470 with immediate effect.”

Travena Lee, news director at Fairchild Radio, said Tuesday the station has no further comment.

Soon after Fairchild’s announcement, Mr. Leung also posted a statement on his public Facebook page, saying what he said in the program were “comments” rather than “news.”

“In my original commentary, I first pointed out that it was wrong for the white-clad men dashing to the subway station and beat people. I also pointed out that, the confrontation between two sides eventually became fights, based upon different videos and reporting from that day,” Mr. Leung said in the post.

He added that different editing of videos from the Yuen Long attack may lead to different opinions.

However, he said, according to various videos, “[I] still saw the clips that both sides fought each other and that’s why I called it the fight between black and white.”

Hong Kong people have called for an investigation of the mob attack. And Mr. Leung stated he too welcomed the investigation, and will apologize if it can be proven that protesters didn’t do anything to provoke the violent clashes.

Mr. Leung is also the president of a non-profit organization called the Culture Regeneration Research Society. A staff member with the organization said Mr. Leung was not available for an interview on Tuesday.

Leo Shin, associate professor of history and Asian studies at University of British Columbia, said as a commentator, Mr. Leung is entitled to his views. But he noted Mr. Leung’s opinion isn’t widely shared.

“That observation on his part is not in accordance to what most people [saw] who were there, or who have viewed the footage either online or through TV.”

Prof. Shin said the Yuen Long incident was a “watershed moment” in the protests, which provoked outrage among Hong Kongers not only because of the attack, but also because of the slow response from Hong Kong police.

Source: Vancouver broadcaster resigns after outcry over Hong Kong remarks

Hong Kong: Split emerges in Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian community amid protests

Ongoing:

Images of police using rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters in Hong Kong in early June spurred Joel Wan to pick up the phone and call the United Nations human rights office from his home in Vancouver.

“It was 3 a.m. and I was watching live on my computer. I can’t just sit there and watch, so I have to report this somewhere immediately,” recalled Wan, who is 18 and was born in Hong Kong.

Wan called the actions of police in Hong Kong a “trigger” for him, although he was already concerned about a proposed extradition bill that sparked the ongoing mass protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The bill, which has since been suspended, would have allowed certain suspects to be extradited to mainland China to face charges, a move Wan and others in Canada view as a blow to Hong Kong’s legal independence.

In response, Wan helped form a group called Vancouver Hong Kong Political Activists, which aims to shed light on what he sees as the erosion of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong.

“When I’m enjoying the freedom and human rights in Canada, and myself being a part of Hong Kong identity, I have a greater responsibility to speak up for the people when they can’t,” said Wan in a recent interview.

“I decided to step up to let Canadians hear what we’re saying.”

Earlier this month, the political climate in Hong Kong spilled into the streets of Vancouver as an event organized by Wan’s group sparked a counter-rally by supporters of China’s central government and the Hong Kong police.

As many as 300,000 Canadians live in Hong Kong, according to the Asia Pacific Foundation, and more than 200,000 people living in Canada were born in Hong Kong.

Members of the Chinese-Canadian community in the Lower Mainland say the question of how tensions are playing out in the region is a complicated one.

The extradition bill has been suspended, but protesters want it off the legislative table altogether. The movement’s demands have also expanded to include universal suffrage when electing Hong Kong’s leaders, amnesty for protesters who have been arrested and an independent investigation into the use of force by Hong Kong police.

Wan supports the Hong Kong activists’ goals.

“It’s not just the amendment of the bill,” he said. “It’s because we can’t vote for a government that serves us truly.”

The United Nations has also released a statement on behalf of its high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, indicating there was “credible evidence” of Hong Kong law enforcement officials using measures “prohibited by international norms and standards.” Bachelet condemned any form of violence, calling on protesters to “express their views in a peaceful way” and urging Hong Kong authorities to investigate police actions immediately.

It was in hopes of raising awareness about events in Hong Kong that Wan said his group planned to hand out flyers at a transit station near Vancouver’s city hall on Aug. 17.

But on that day, Wan found himself in the centre of duelling rallies, a reflection of tensions between pro-democracy protesters and those who are aligned with Beijing and law enforcement in Hong Kong.

“I didn’t expect there would be a stand-off,” said Wan, who donned a mask for the first time that day, concealing his face after becoming aware of threatening messages shared on WeChat, a Chinese social media and mobile payment app.

Wan believes many of those at the counter-rally were spurred on by the Chinese consulate, which denied any involvement in a statement.

“It is totally understandable and reasonable for local overseas Chinese to express indignation and opposition against words and deeds that attempt to separate China and smear its image,” the consulate said in an email to The Canadian Press.

“Some western media have repeatedly targeted at Chinese government and its diplomatic missions overseas by misleading implications and groundless accusations, to which we firmly oppose.”

Vancouver police say protests on Aug. 17 and 18 were of comparable size, attracting about 400 people evenly split between the two sides. Const. Steve Addison said police are aware of what is being said on social media and they are monitoring to determine risk levels, as they do for any demonstration. No other action has been taken by police, he said.

Similar protests were also held that weekend in Toronto.

At the first rally in Vancouver, those sympathetic to the Chinese government chanted “One China,” while the pro-democracy supporters chanted “two systems.”

Wan said he and his group are not calling for Hong Kong’s independence, but they do want the “one country, two systems” agreement upheld, a reference to the implementation of the governance structure that was brought in when Hong Kong was reunified with China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule.

“The two systems, for Hong Kongers, they feel have been eroded, step by step,” said Josephine Chiu-Duke, a professor in the department of Asian studies at the University of British Columbia and a specialist in Chinese intellectual history.

Chiu-Duke considers the latest round of demonstrations to be an extension of the ongoing struggle to defend the rights promised to Hong Kong residents when the region became semi-autonomous more than 20 years ago.

Indeed, Wan said, “They broke their promise.”

Most people in the pro-democracy camp believe the erosion is backed by the Beijing government to gradually unify the two systems, Chiu-Duke noted.

“They want the Beijing government to honour their promise to Hong Kong’s people (and) let the rule of law rule Hong Kong,” she said, adding that many people in the Lower Mainland with roots in Hong Kong want to let the pro-democracy protesters know they’re not alone.

As for the crowds near city hall earlier this month, Chiu-Duke said it’s hard to pin down why the demonstrators supporting the Chinese government showed up.

“There are rumours they were basically organized by the Chinese consulate,” said Chiu-Duke, pointing to reports that a spokesman for China’s foreign affairs ministry stated the government hopes “overseas Chinese can express their patriotism in a rational way.”

At the rally, Nicholas Wang said he helped organize the “One China” group and that he supports the police in Hong Kong.

“Our idea is just against violence, that’s the most important thing,” said Wang, who is from mainland China and attributes violent clashes in Hong Kong to the protesters.

Wang acknowledged that those who supported the protesters in Hong Kong at the rally in Vancouver were also opposed to violence.

“It’s perfect that they support the same idea with us,” Wang said in an interview.

But he believes they are only talking about one side of the story.

“I think you can find more videos of more younger people creating chaos there instead of police doing that,” said Wang, adding that if police didn’t carry out their duties, Hong Kong would degenerate into chaos.

Chinese exchange student Erika Zhao also blamed violence on the protesters and said journalists are only focusing on the actions of the police.

“It’s quite biased news,” she said.

Despite the tense face-off in Vancouver, Joel Wan said he is on good terms with friends who disagree with him.

“Most of the mainland (Chinese) people I encounter are willing to engage into our conversation,” said Wan. “One of my friends, he entirely believed we are rioters and we are messing up the city. After explanation, we still stand strong in our opinions, but we established agreement (and) understanding (on) why each other thinks like that.”

Most people Wan knows are also focused on life in Vancouver and aren’t as involved with what’s happening in Hong Kong, he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Calvin Lam, 23, who was born in Vancouver and raised in Hong Kong before returning to B.C. as a university student.

Lam was on vacation in Hong Kong in early June when the protests began to escalate.

He said he was sympathetic to their cause until Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced the suspension of the extradition bill. At that point, Lam said the protesters achieved their objective and the rest of their demands are unrealistic.

He said he’s concerned that ongoing mass protests, altercations between protesters and police, destruction of property and disruptions in Hong Kong’s airport and transit systems are damaging Hong Kong’s economy and reputation.

But, like Wan, Lam said he approaches friends who disagree with him amicably.

“They have their stance, I understand it. I am careful in what I say to them. I never use any personal attacks,” said Lam, in reference to derogatory name-calling that has been levelled online at pro-democracy protesters.

“We just know this issue is happening in Hong Kong and then I’m psychologically or emotionally affected because I see Hong Kong as my homeland. But I don’t think any other areas of my life are affected.”

Source: Hong Kong: Split emerges in Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian community amid protests

Hong Kong Good Citizenship Applications Jump as People Eye Exit

Will likely only increase along with the re-retournees (Unrest in Hong Kong fuels speculation of spike in ‘re-return migration’ to Canada):

Rupert Gather, an adviser who helps people secure investor visas to move to the U.K. from Hong Kong, says interest has surged since street protests broke out in the former British colony.

His firm InvestUK’s seminars, held every four to six weeks, usually attract about 40 people but in July almost 200 showed up, he said. It’s part of a wider trend as applications for Hong Kong good citizenship cards jumped almost 50% in the first two weeks of August from a year earlier, in a sign residents may be more seriously contemplating leaving the city.

The good citizenship documents certify a person doesn’t have a criminal record and are needed to apply for foreign visas, or residency in another country.

Tensions have flared in the former British colony as pro-democracy protests that started in June show no sign of letting up: last weekend began with the formation of a peaceful human chain across the city and ended two days later with police firing a weapon and using water cannons.

“This is evidence that many Hong Kongers are seeking to move overseas, or at least obtain residency overseas so that they have the option to go,” said Georg Chmiel, executive chairman of real estate site Juwai.com. “While the data doesn’t show for sure that people are applying for these police checks for their foreign visa applications, it is relatively rare to seek these documents for any other purpose.”

U.K. Interest

The number of U.K. visas granted to Hong Kong nationals qualifying as investors and entrepreneurs more than doubled in the second quarter from a year earlier, government data show. That outpaced an overall 55% rise in these so-called Tier 1 visas, according to the figures from the U.K.’s interior ministry.

In the second quarter, 13 Hong Kong nationals obtained Tier 1 investor visas, which offer permanent residency in return for investing 2 million pounds ($2.44 million) in the U.K., compared with just four during the same period in 2018. The less exclusive Tier 1 entrepreneur visas were granted to 41 residents of the city.

“The more high net worth you are the more options you have to move to other countries,” Naomi Hanrahan-Soar, a managing associate at London-based immigration law firm Lewis Silkin, said by phone. “The U.K.’s very popular with people from around the world in part because we have such a reliable legal system.”

Source: Hong Kong Good Citizenship Applications Jump as People Eye Exit

Liberal party membership forms distributed at pro-Beijing rally against Hong Kong protests

Look forward to more details emerging:

As speaker after speaker criticized the mass protests in Hong Kong and defended the Chinese government at a Toronto-area rally recently, a different kind of politicking was quietly unfolding.

Several members of the crowd of about 200 passed around and appeared to fill in Liberal membership forms, a striking juxtaposition between Canada’s governing party and backers of China’s Communist regime.

A Liberal spokesman said Thursday the forms looked to be ones that haven’t been used for three years — since the party ended paid memberships — and which would not be accepted today as valid registrations.

And the party had nothing at all to do with the rally, he added.

But critics of the Chinese government say they’re troubled that any kind of Liberal recruiting efforts might have taken place at a pro-Beijing event, calling it more evidence of China’s sway within Canadian politics generally.

“You can see the close connection between the pro-Beijing camp and the Liberal party,” said Gloria Fung of the group Canada-Hong Kong Link. “But … the pro-Beijing camp actually has their people in different federal parties. It’s not only confined to the Liberal party. I can easily name people in the Conservative party who are advocates of the Chinese government’s interests.”

The Aug. 11 rally at King Square shopping centre in Markham featured a number of speakers who portrayed the massive demonstrations in Hong Kong as a dangerous threat to the city’s peace, stability and economy.

The protests have brought as many as a million or more people to the streets for the past 11 weeks, decrying a law that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, calling for the investigation of alleged police brutality and demanding democratic reforms. Some have become violent.

Speakers at the Markham event included Michael Chan, who until last year was an Ontario Liberal cabinet minister.

Chinese-language media reports had said Han Dong, another former MPP who is now running for the federal Liberal nomination in Toronto’s Don Valley North riding, would also attend. One of the event’s moderators mentioned his name, too. But Dong issued a statement latersaying neither he nor any of his campaign team were at the rally. He could not be reached for comment.

Recruiting new members is a timeworn way for would-be candidates to win party nominations.

John Yuen, a Toronto-based supporter of the Hong Kong democracy movement attended the Markham rally to observe, and said he videotaped people passing around forms bearing the Liberal logo.

In the video, posted on Facebook, some of the audience members begin filling out the papers.

Photographs taken by another observer at the rally, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Wilfred, provide a closer look at the form. It appears to be the same as one that was available for download from the Liberal website as recently as Wednesday evening. The National Post asked about the incident Thursday morning, and the download page had been disabled by the afternoon.

The form, which includes payment options, has not been used since 2016, when the federal Liberals decided to make membership in the party free, said spokesman Braeden Caley.

“Those images do not appear to be authentic Liberal registration forms, and they would not be accepted as valid by the party,” he said. “The Liberal Party of Canada was not involved in the event … in any respect.”

Canadians can now join the party without charge by registering online.

Regardless, the presence of partisan political activity at the event raised eyebrows within the Chinese-Canadian community.

“I was very alarmed,” said Fenella Sung of the group Canadian Friends of Hong Kong, who suggested the Liberal party investigate how it happened.

Fung of Canada-Hong Kong Link said she sees the incident as more evidence of Beijing’s attempts to involve itself in Canadian politics, an important issue with an election looming.

“I consider this to be a major threat to our democracy,” she said

Source: Liberal party membership forms distributed at pro-Beijing rally against Hong Kong protests

Unrest in Hong Kong fuels speculation of spike in ‘re-return migration’ to Canada

Largely anecdotal at this point in time but credible:

As riot police clashed with protesters in Hong Kong in recent days, it focused attention on the estimated 300,000 Canadian passport holders — most of them Hong Kong-born — who live in the port city and fuelled speculation of a surge in “re-return migration” back to Canada.

Hong Kong observers say they had already begun to see an uptick in the phenomenon of so-called “re-returnees” — those who moved from Hong Kong to Canada in the 1980s or 90s, returned to Hong Kong and are now back in Canada — beginning around 2014 and expect the recent political turmoil will accelerate it.

“Back in the 1990s, their parents moved to Canada because they worried Hong Kong one day would be a city of China. Right now, their worries have been actualized. … China has undermined the autonomy of Hong Kong. The next generation are making the same decision as their parents did,” said Kennedy Wong, co-investigator of an unpublished UBC study on re-returnees.

Hong Kong serves as a key trading hub in Asia for Canadian products and ranks third as a destination for Canada’s export of financial, engineering and other professional services.

In addition to shared business interests, Canada also has deep-rooted historical ties with Hong Kong. During the Second World War, the then-British colony was the first place Canadian troops fought a land battle. They suffered great casualties against the Japanese — 290 died in combat, nearly 500 were wounded and another 264 died as prisoners of war.

“There has been a long and strong ties between Canada and Hong Kong,” said Leo Shin, a professor of Chinese history at UBC.

While there was some migration from Hong Kong to Canada in the 1950s and 60s, the numbers swelled to about 380,000 from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s in advance of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule back to China. Many families did not, however, completely cut off ties to their homeland as evidenced by the “astronaut family” phenomenon, in which the breadwinner — typically the father — spent the bulk of his time overseas.

In the handover’s aftermath, fears subsided as China established a “one country, two systems” model of governing that allowed Hong Kong to maintain its economic and political autonomy. As a result, there was an outflow of migration of these now-naturalized Canadian citizens back to Hong Kong in the 1990s through the mid-2000s.

Many of those returning to Hong Kong had Canadian university degrees, weren’t married yet, and had the luxury of mobility. From their point of view, going back to Hong Kong was a no-brainer — the economy was booming, opportunities for climbing the corporate ladder were plentiful, and their Canadian schooling and English skills meant higher salaries. Many Canadian-born citizens of Chinese descent joined this outflow to Hong Kong — driven not only by job prospects but also a desire to connect with their ancestral homeland.

The fact they all carried Canadian passports offered peace of mind, Wong said. If things went sideways in Hong Kong, they could always come back to Canada.

“You can pick Canada or Hong Kong,” he said.

In 2011, the Asia-Pacific Foundation released a study that estimated the number of Canadian citizens in Hong Kong to be around 300,000 but possibly as high as 500,000 — making the Canadian diaspora in Hong Kong the largest outside of the United States. Most were naturalized Canadians; only 16 per cent were thought to be Canadian-born.

The study was based on the results of a phone survey of more than 500 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong.

Forty-six per cent of respondents said they considered Canada home “sometimes” or “all the time,” while 37 per cent said they “never” consider Canada home. Reflecting the push-pull dilemma facing many of these residents, about one-third said they would most likely return to Canada within five years.

And that’s what started to happen, experts say, citing a number of triggers.

In 2012, an idea was floated to introduce in Hong Kong’s public school curriculum civics courses intended to promote greater patriotism and identification with mainland China. The idea was panned by critics who worried about “brainwashing” and was ultimately scrapped.

But it sowed fear, observers say, about growing influence of Chinese politics in education, the economy and other sectors.

“They started to be more sensitive and aware of these things,” Wong said.

As part of his study on re-return migration to Canada, Wong interviewed about 20 people who had decided to settle in Vancouver and Toronto. One interviewee said the decision was tactical. “After 2008, the whole political situation has been getting worse. … And you can see how they (the government) wanted our children to be raised … to learn about something that is nonsense, or to learn to be a robot.”

That sort of fear intensified in 2014 when Beijing was accused of trying to interfere with the electoral process in Hong Kong, sparking protests that came to be known as the “Umbrella Movement.”

On top of the changing political climate, many in Hong Kong have been returning to Canada for personal reasons. Some are raising young families or nearing retirement age and prefer the quieter Canadian lifestyle over the chaos of Hong Kong, which has become notorious in recent years for overcrowding in hospitals and kindergarten classes. Some also have aging parents living in Canada.

“I told myself clearly that (if I make this decision), I am at a point of no return. Because I want to get settled in a place,” said another interviewee in the study.

While there is no hard data to show the number of re-returnees, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest it is on the rise. When the UBC alumni association in Hong Kong held a paid seminar at the start of this year titled “Thinking of Moving Back to B.C.?” more than 70 people showed up, higher than expected.

In June, the South China Morning Post cited census data to show that the number of Hong Kong-born people in Canada had been steadily declining since 1996 but then increased from 209,775 in the 2011 census to 215,750 in the 2016 census. The newspaper attributed the increase to the new phenomenon of “double reverse migration.”

In recent weeks, as violent clashes between police and pro-democracy demonstrators — upset over a proposed bill that would’ve allowed for the extradition of Hong Kongers to face trial in China — have intensified, observers have speculated that the turmoil is likely to fuel more departures.

“We can tell obviously people are not just worrying about democracy. They’re worrying about the freedoms that Hong Kong people have been enjoying,” said Miu Chung Yan, a UBC professor of social work who worked with Wong on the re-return migration study.

Wong said he has friends who have lived in Hong Kong all their lives but who have recently expressed interest in having a “working holiday” in Canada. “The push factor is much higher,” he said.

Migration consultants in Hong Kong have similarly been reporting sharp increases in young people inquiring about emigrating to other parts of Asia, Australia, the United States and Canada.

One of them, John Hu, told Global News this week the number of inquiries he’s received has doubled.

“Before June, when we answered calls, they were thinking about immigration,” he said. “But now, we are taking calls from people who are already determined to migrate.”

Source: Unrest in Hong Kong fuels speculation of spike in ‘re-return migration’ to Canada

Former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister headlines pro-Beijing rally near Toronto

Sigh.

If I recall correctly, former Minister Chan was the implicit example of a provincial cabinet minister when former CSIS Director Fadden warned about Canadian politicians being “agents of influence” or “secret supporters.” in 2010:

As protesters continued to surge through the streets of Hong Kong to press for greater freedoms, a former Canadian cabinet member offered a much different viewpoint — just outside Toronto.

Michael Chan, Ontario’s Liberal trade minister until last year, was a keynote speaker as scores of Chinese Canadians rallied in support of Beijing and the largely non-democratic Hong Kong administration.

“Unity is better than violence,” Chan proclaimed. “We support Hong Kong’s police strictly handling unrest, Hong Kong’s government carefully defending the rule of law, China’s government carefully observing Hong Kong,”

The event Chan headlined was part of what appears to be a worldwide effort to rally the Chinese diaspora against the Hong Kong demonstrators, whose prolonged, mass movement has offered a surprising challenge to Beijing.

In downtown Toronto on Saturday, a parade of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other super cars driven by China supporters waving People’s Republic flags contributed to a noisy — if bizarre — counter protest, as backers of the Hong Kong democracy advocates struggled to be heard.

Similar clashes have occurred in Australia and Vancouver, where on Sunday China loyalists surrounded a church holding a prayer session for the Hong Kong demonstrators.

They come as Chinese President Xi Jinping expands the role of the United Front Work Department, a party offshoot whose mission includes influencing ethnic Chinese and political elites in foreign countries.

There is no direct evidence that Chinese officials are behind the various pro-Beijing activities, but critics of the regime argue their fingerprints are everywhere.

“I definitely, 100 per cent believe these kind of actions are organized by the Chinese communist regime in Beijing,” says Sheng Xue, a prominent Toronto-based journalist and activist.

And the opposing demonstrations indicate the Chinese-Canadian community is far from united in defence of Hong Kong’s China-backed government.

Many of those in the Toronto and Vancouver counter–protests appeared to be visiting mainland Chinese students — one of whom said on social media he was prepared to be deported if necessary — while some at the rally with Chan were paid $100 to attend, according to one community source.

Those supporting the protesters are predominately from Hong Kong, and take to the streets free of any government support, argued Gloria Fung, whose Hong Kong-Canada Link group held the Toronto demonstration.

“We came forward spontaneously, without any vested interest,” she said.

But an organizer of the Toronto counter-protest said he had no backing from the local consulate, and was simply reacting to violence perpetrated by Hong Kong “seditionists.” Excerpts of posts from his group on the Chinese-owned WeChat site were obtained by the National Post.

“Comrades, we have a five thousand year history of honouring our ancestors, pride in our people, unbreakable spirit and I hope everyone can turn out,” said the organizer, calling himself TonY. “We are unlike the Hong Kong seditionists, we don’t have any hidden hand behind us, we have no leaders. All we have are patriotic hearts and patriotic integrity moving us forward.”

In the same WeChat group, a user named Biubiu says before the counter-protest that “We’ve all made preparations to get deported.” Another, called Shele, adds “For country … for party … Always prepared to sacrifice for Communism.”

The protests in Hong Kong have repeatedly seen a million or more people take to the streets over the past 11 weeks. The rallies started as a reaction to a proposed law allowing extradition from the enclave to mainland China, but have expanded to also decry police brutality, and call for democratic reform.

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, China and its supporters have seized on those that became violent.

In fact, an unsigned Chinese-language memo circulating on social media offers talking points for people living in foreign countries, said Fung, who believes it is a Communist document. Among other points, the note suggests portraying the protests as a struggle between patriots and separatists, peace and violence and the rule of law and rioting, she said.

Perhaps the strangest manifestation of the pro-China position came on Saturday in Toronto, when several supporters of the Chinese Communist Party showed up in high-priced sports cars, revving their engines as the pro-democracy rally unfolded.

They seemed to be saying “I have money, but I am ‘patriotic. I’m loyal to China,’ ” said Fenella Sung of the group Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. ” ‘We can just roll over you.’ That’s the message.”

According to Chinese-language media reports, the event Chan spoke at on Aug. 12 in Markham, Ont., was partly organized by the Toronto Confederation of Chinese Canadian Organizations, a group that has often worked closely with Beijing’s local consulate.

Coverage of the Aug. 12 event at Markham’s King Square mall includes photographs of a number of Chinese-Canadian organizations, including a purported Tibetan group that Tibetan-community leaders say is essentially a Beijing front.

One source in the Toronto-area Chinese-Canadian community says members of a seniors group were each paid $100 to attend the rally, something the Post could not confirm independently.

Chan’s speech described Hong Kong’s growth from a fishing village to a powerful international business and trade centre, before urging authorities there to take a firm hand with the protests.

Sung said his presence at the event suggests a lack of respect for basic Canadian values of freedom and democracy.

The former Liberal MPP, who resigned before last year’s Ontario election and is now a business adviser for the Miller Thomson law firm, could not be reached for comment.

Reports before the event suggested that Han Dong, another former MPP who is running for the federal Liberal nomination in Don Valley North riding, would also attend. But Dong later issued a statement saying neither he nor anyone on his team was there.

Source: Former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister headlines pro-Beijing rally near Toronto

Daphne Bramham: China’s long reach laid bare by Hong Kong protests

Expect we will continue to see many articles like this:

Beijing’s long reach into the Chinese diaspora and beyond has rarely been as evident as it is now.

On Monday, Twitter suspended 936 accounts, which it described as “the most active” of 200,000 accounts representing “a larger, spammy network.” The accounts originating in China were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.”

Based on “intensive investigations, Twitter said it has “reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.”

Based on Twitter’s findings, Facebook also shut down seven pages, three groups and seven accounts.

Fortunately, this weekend’s march by an estimated 1.7 million Hong Kongers was peaceful after several weeks of violence and alleged police brutality.

But there were rising tensions in several Canadian cities as well as Paris, London, New York City and Sydney where pro-Beijing counter-protests were hastily arranged at sites of rallies held in support of Hong Kong’s protest movement.

The counter-protests were strikingly similar with denunciations of the Hong Kong “rioters” and “traitors” and false accusations of Hong Kongers demanding independence from China. They sang the Chinese national anthem under seemingly fresh-from-the-package Chinese flags and scores of identical placards.

With their own citizens protesting in the streets — many of them of Chinese ancestry — Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Crystia Freeland and the European Union’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini were told to mind their own business by China. They had issued a joint statement urging restraint and condemning the “rising number of unacceptable violent incidents” in Hong Kong that might lead to “risks of further violence and instability.”

In Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, police were busy keeping protesters and counter-protesters separated and safe.

On Saturday, social media chatter among Vancouver-based China’s supporters included boasts about bringing bricks, rocks and knives to hastily organized counter-protests that resulted in a more obvious police presence than at previous events. Whether the threats were legitimate, it’s up to the police to investigate.

Later, scores of counter-protesters gathered outside Nordstrom’s, video posted on Facebook shows one young man marching past the red flags with his arm raised in a pseudo-Nazi salute with Chinese singing in the background. The show of forced convinced the organizers of a nearby pro-Hong Kong event to cancel.

On Sunday, a convoy of flag-draped cars and some landscaping trucks that had blocked the street outside the Chinese consul general’s house on Granville Street during a rally drove to a nearby church.

There, about 80 worshippers met to pray for peace, freedom, human rights and democracy in the former British colony. Police kept the 100 or so flag-waving and red-clad demonstrators away from the church and helped escort the worshippers though the crowd when the prayers ended.

Chris Chiu, one of the prayer meeting’s organizers, called it an assault on religious freedom, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression — something protected in Canada, but absent in China.

“We definitely felt intimidated,” he said. “As far as I know this doesn’t even happen in Hong Kong. Some churches there have opened their space during protests so that people can have a rest, get first aid or some water. They’re like shelters.

“It was definitely outrageous and shocking. It makes me feel very angry and unsafe even in Canada.”

Chiu said members of Vancouver Christians for Love, Peace and Justice will be meeting later this week to talk about their future.

“Are we going to hold any prayer meeting for Hong Kong or any other causes that China doesn’t like? Do we have to think about safety? About contacting police or hiring security guards? We don’t know the answers.”

Bizarrely, there were also by noisy drive-bys of flag-draped luxury cars at protests sites in Vancouver and Toronto.

Ferraris, McLarens, Aston Martins and Porsches revved their engines and honking is intimidation on a whole different scale in cities that have been roiled by a different kind of social unrest from residents who have been priced out of the housing market and who have been rocked by a multi-billion-dollar, money-laundering scandal that’s been linked to China.

The revving of cars that cost more than many people’s homes was another ostentatious reminder of China’s economic power.

Canada and Canadians are already suffering the economic consequences of China’s retribution for cleaving to our own values and upholding the rule of law with regard to Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

She’s under house arrest in her multi-million Vancouver home, awaiting an extradition trial, while two Canadians — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — have been jailed without trial in China and two others jailed in China have been condemned to death.

People in Hong Kong are in a life-and-death struggle to retain the vestiges of freedom that have made the city-state so vibrant. They are struggling to retain their own culture and customs and even the Cantonese language, which is increasingly being replaced by Mandarin.

As the Chinese government exerts ever increasing influence over other countries in Asia, Africa and in Canada, Hong Kongers are not alone in thinking that they may just be the canary in the coal mine.

Source: Daphne Bramham: China’s long reach laid bare by Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong Immigration to Taiwan Surges as Protests Grind On

Hong Kong Immigration to Taiwan Surges as Protests Grind On

 

Other countries will likely see a similar increase (Hong Kong applications to Canada increased from 1,209 in 2016 to 1,877 in 2018):

As Hong Kong’s unrest continues, some in the city are looking to the less expensive rents, leafy green streets and relative political shelter of neighboring Taiwan as a safe haven.

The number of people moving to Taiwan from Hong Kong has risen rapidly — up 28% over first seven months of 2019 compared to a year earlier — fueled in recent months by anti-government protests that have swept the former British colony amid fear its autonomy from Beijing is being eroded.

Upwardly mobile entrepreneurs, salespeople and managers say they are attracted by a better quality of life in the democratically run Taiwan — including cheaper property prices, business opportunities and a safer living environment.

Hong Kong’s violence has increased in recent weeks as police and protesters clash and demonstrations spread across the city, including sit-ins that paralyzed its international airport for two straight days last week. China has doubled down on support for local leader Carrie Lam amid fears it will send in its army to restore order, and the city’s economy has begun feeling the toll of 11 straight weeks of rallies. With no end in sight, some residents are looking for a way to leave.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has been vocal in her support for Hong Kong’s protesters in their pursuit of greater democracy, a contrast to the aggressive police tactics Lam’s China-backed government has used to try and subdue the rallies. The independence-leaning Tsai is up for reelection in January and has seen her support ratings rebound since the movement began, as Taiwanese voters recoil at the scenes unfolding in Hong Kong. China considers Taiwan part of its territory.

‘No Future’

“I want to move to Taiwan because Hong Kong is in a period of white terror and ruled by the police, which scares me,“ said 37-year-old retail salesperson Steven Chen, a Hong Konger who said he was working to move to the island. “I saw no future for the city when it returned to China some 20 years ago, but now it’s dangerous to live in as the police are not protecting people.”

Chen said he was borrowing money from friends and family to come up with the NT$6 million ($190,000) Hong Kong citizens need in order to apply for residency through a Taiwanese government investment scheme.

Chen said he has joined every protest since July 1 in support of Hong Kong’s mostly student protesters, including one in which he was almost hit by a rubber bullet. He saw his life as being in danger.

Dozens of Hong Kong protesters involved in the July ransacking of the city’s Legislative Council arrived in Taiwan last month to seek asylum, the Apple Daily newspaper reported. They were preceded by prominent activist and bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who fled to the island over the extradition legislation that sparked the current protest movement.

New arrivals from Hong Kong accounted for 9.4% of all immigration to Taiwan in the first half of the year — almost double last year’s percentage — according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from Taiwan’s immigration agency.

The trend is likely to continue as the Taiwanese government has no caps on relocations from Hong Kong and is open to more of its residents coming. “We welcome them,” says Taiwan’s interior minister Hsu Kuo-yung, adding that applications from Hong Kong have risen at least 30% in recent weeks.

A timeline of Hong Kong’s historic summer of protest

In a late 2018 survey from the Chinese University of Hong Kong — before the protests started — Taiwan ranked as the third most popular destination for Hong Kongers planning to move overseas, after Canada and Australia.

Norris Lo is another Hong Konger attracted by what Taiwan has to offer. She and her husband plan to open a pastry shop in the central city of Taichung next year. After considering countries like Australia and New Zealand, they opted for Taiwan due to its affordability.

“We want to open a small store of our own, and it’s impossible to do so in Hong Kong,” the 34-year-old pastry teacher said. She also cited the financial hub’s soaring cost of living and densely packed environment.

“We don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “If we could see a better future in the next 10 or 20 years, we would be willing to wait. But we don’t see it.”

Source: Hong Kong Immigration to Taiwan Surges as Protests Grind On

Canadians in Hong Kong urged to vote in federal election with an eye on party policies toward territory and China

Interesting that virtually all of the advocates quoted are non-Chinese Canadians. The one Chinese Canadian quoted makes the most sensible comment that his vote won’t be this single issue.

Given the large number of Canadian expats in Hong Kong, Richmond BC was a possible example where Chinese Canadian expats could influence the election result in that riding.

We will see whether the indefinite extension of voting rights for expats results in a significant increase in expat voting (only 15,603 registered in 2015 of whom 10,707 valid votes cast):

 As Hong Kong wrestles with its worst political crisis in years, Andrew Work wants the hundreds of thousands of Canadians living there to know they have a new chance to help elect a government in Ottawa that will represent their interests.

Mr. Work, president of the Canadian Club in Hong Kong, is organizing a voter-registration drive to urge some of the estimated 300,000 Canadians who live in the city to cast their ballots in the coming federal election in Canada. Previously, Canadians who had lived outside Canada for more than five years were barred in theory from voting under legislation from the early 1990s, That law was only loosely enforced. In response to a Harper government’s attempt to enforce that law, however, the Supreme Court ruled this January that all non-residents have the right to vote, no matter how long they have lived elsewhere. The Liberal government also passed legislation last December extending voting rights to all non-resident citizens.

“I am sure for some people, they will very much have [Hong Kong’s political turmoil] on their mind as they would look carefully at Canadian policies towards China and Hong Kong as part of their voting calculation,” Mr. Work said in an interview from Hong Kong.

“Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. Now that Hong Kong is on the front page of newspapers everyday around the world, including Canada, Canadians of all types will have Canada’s policy on their mind.”

Ghislain Desjardins, a spokesman for Elections Canada, Asia, said earlier this week that there are 628 voters registered on the International Register of Electors in 198 different electoral districts. The agency doesn’t have country-specific numbers.

Hong Kong has been racked by months of protests by demonstrators angry at what they see as the Chinese government’s increasing incursion into the semi-autonomous territory’s affairs.

Barrett Bingley, originally from Victoria, now works as the North Asia sales director for The Economist in Hong Kong. He said the protests are having a devastating effect on the people who work for him.

“I have many staff who I worry about now,” he said. “I had staff who had been tear gassed; staff who were not protesting who were tear gassed … We have staff who are experiencing psychological issues. We have to make sure they’re well taken care of.”

When casting his vote in the Canadian election, he said he’ll be considering which political leader is willing to take a strong stand to protect the “one country, two systems” philosophy that China promised when it took possession of the territory from Britain in 1997. The arrangement allows Hong Kong its own laws for 50 years.

The recent weeks’ increasing violence in Hong Kong have made him concerned about his and his family’s safety. He said both Australia and British consulates sent representatives to Hong Kong’s airport, where some of the latest demonstrations took place. He said the Canadian consulate should be doing more to safeguard its citizens.

Instead, Mr. Bingley said he has been watching the Canadian government “say virtually nothing” on the issue except for a “soft statement” made by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week.

On Monday, Mr. Trudeau told the media that the government is “extremely concerned” about the situation in Hong Kong and called on Beijing to be “careful and respectful” in its handling in this crisis.

“We need to see the local authorities listening to the very serious concerns brought forward by Chinese citizens and their concerns around the decisions that the local authorities in Beijing have taken,” he said.

Mr. Bingley said he prefers the statement issued by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who wrote on Twitter: “As Beijing amasses troops at the Hong Kong border, now is the time for everyone committed to democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law to stand with the people of Hong Kong, including the 300,000 ex-pat Canadians. Now, and in the coming days, we are all Hong Kongers.”

Montreal-born Jean-Christophe Clement has been living in the city for a decade and has participated in the protests. The employee of a finance software vendor, 49, recently registered to vote and said a federal party’s position on what’s happening in the region would “almost entirely set the tone” for his voting decision.

He said he would cast his vote for a politician who is “in support of the protection of rule of law and democracy in Hong Kong.”

Although escalating tensions in the city haven’t affected his daily life much, he said the China’s People’s Armed Police exercising in Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, worries him.

“My concern would be PLA comes in and there’s martial law.”

Paul Evans, professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, said Mr. Scheer’s invocation of Cold War imagery of Berlin and the rallying cry of democracy, human rights and the rule of law will likely appeal to some.

But from his own experience in Hong Kong, he said people in the region are more realistic about the limited options that the territory has operating in its Chinese context, and the ability for other countries to have an impact.

For some other Canadians in Hong Kong, candidates’ domestic policies will weigh more in their votes.

Nathaniel Chan, who grew up in Toronto, said politicians’ positions on the Hong Kong issue have “no bearing” in his ballot.

“I think when we vote in a national election, it should be mostly about the standard of living for people in Canada or policies that affect all Canadians.”

Mr. Desjardins of Elections Canada said they sent 857 ballot kits to international electors in Asia during the last election, but the agency does not provide data on the number of ballots returned, for security reasons.

The agency conducts outreach through a small digital ad campaign targeting electors abroad, according to Mr. Desjardins, and also places posters at embassies and consulates with information on voting.

It’s not enough, Mr. Bingley said.

“What hasn’t been in Hong Kong so far though is there hasn’t been a campaign by the federal government, by the consulate to get Canadians registered and to explain how to do it,” Mr. Bingley said.

“There needs to be concerted information campaign of how to do this.”