Friday, June 21, 2024
Friday, June 21, 2024
Home » Canadian Politicians Who Criticize China Become its Targets

Canadian Politicians Who Criticize China Become its Targets

by Blake Brooks
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The polls predicted a re-election victory, maybe even a landslide.

But a couple of weeks before the vote, Kenny Chiu, a member of Canada’s Parliament and a critic of China’s human rights record, was panicking. Something had flipped among the ethnic Chinese voters in his British Columbia district.

“Initially, they were supportive,” he said. “And all of a sudden, they just vanished, vaporized, disappeared.”

Longtime supporters originally from mainland China were not returning his calls. Volunteers reported icy greetings at formerly friendly homes. Chinese-language news outlets stopped covering him. And he was facing an onslaught of attacks — from untraceable sources — on the local community’s most popular social networking app, the Chinese-owned WeChat.

The sudden collapse of Mr. Chiu’s campaign — in the last federal election, in 2021 — is now drawing renewed scrutiny amid mounting evidence of China’s interference in Canadian politics.

Mr. Chiu and several other elected officials critical of Beijing were targets of a Chinese state that has increasingly exerted its influence over Chinese diaspora communities worldwide as part of an aggressive campaign to expand its global reach, according to current and former elected officials, Canadian intelligence officials and experts on Chinese state disinformation campaigns.

Canada recently expelled a Chinese diplomat accused of conspiring to intimidate a lawmaker from the Toronto area, Michael Chong, after he successfully led efforts in Parliament to label China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim community a genocide. Canada’s intelligence agency has warned at least a half-dozen current and former elected officials that they have been targeted by Beijing, including Jenny Kwan, a lawmaker from Vancouver and a critic of Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government, employing a global playbook, disproportionately focused on Chinese Canadian elected officials representing districts in and around Vancouver and Toronto, experts say. It has leveraged large diaspora populations with family and business ties to China and ensuring that the levers of power in those communities are on its side, according to elected officials, Canadian intelligence officials and experts on Chinese disinformation.

“Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China has doubled down on this assertive nationalist policy toward the diaspora,” said Feng Chongyi, a historian and an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney. China’s role in Canada mirrored what has happened in Australia, he added.

Source : The News Work Times

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