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Chinese interference could have political objective

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on September 22, 2023 with No Comments

A recent saga involving Michael Chong, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Progressive Conservative Party , led to deterioration of China-Canadian relations in that Canada expelled a Chinese diplomat while China responded in a tit-for-tat pway by expelling a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai.
The incident erupted suddenly when Canada’s Globe and Mail claimed that the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was targeting an MP, Michael Chong, who criticized China’s policy toward Xinjiang and who voted in February 2021 for a motion condemning the PRC. It was cited that Zhao Wei, a Chinese diplomat in Canada, attempted to target at Chong and to “intimidate” his family in Hong Kong. Indeed it was a serious accusation that caused concern among Canadians. Also opposition expressed concern when it was revealed that China was operating a number of “illegal police stations in Canada” to intimidate the Chinese-Canadian communities in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
The Canadian government declared Zhao Wei “persona non grata” after the ruling Federal Liberals realised that pressure from opposition was too firm to be ignored. In a tit-for-tat move, China expelled Canada’s consult in Shanghai, Jennifer Lynn Lalonde. The Canadian security service has begun to reach out to more elected leaders to apprise them on foreign interference. Former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and New Democratic Party MP Jenny Kwan were contacted for such briefings. O’Toole’s sister had lived in Hong Kong for many years before she returned to Canada in 2021.
Michael Chong has been a MP from the riding of Wellington-Halton for 19 years. In 2006, he quit his position as a minister in intergovernmental affairs over a motion which recognized Quebecois as a nation inside Canada. He stature in Federal politics increased further when he said that he did not believe in ethnic nationalism. Chong stressed that he believed in civic nationalism.
The claims and counter claims cast a bad light on the handling of the issue. MP Chong said that the government’s intelligence report about him was circulated among government departments, although Prime Minister Trudeau and his ministers said that the report was not presented to them. This raises serious questions about the entire saga. Why the intelligence report was not presented to Prime Minister Trudeau? Especially when he appeared to the target of opposition parties and media. Secondly, it is unclear how Chinese officials might have targeted the Canadian MPs and their families. What action has been taken by the Canadian government to stop such interference in future?
The government should realise that Michael Chong incidence occurred at a time when Canadian relations with China have already suffered due to the cases of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. In December 2018, Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China shortly after the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Canada. While Kovrig worked for an international crisis group’s office in Hong Kong, Spavor was a director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, an organization that dealt with tourism and investment in North Korea. In September 2021, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the two Michaels had been released from detention shortly after Meng was released from house arrest in Canada. The detention and release of the two Michaels were clearly related to the fate of Sabrina Meng in Canada – a case showing that the incidence of the two Michaels was tied to the international politics and Sino-US-Canadian relations surrounding Meng.
With the opposition party targeting at the Liberal Party and accusing Prime Minister Trudeau of being “vulnerable to foreign interference,” the series of events that pointed to the Chinese interference could mean that China has some sinister objectives and political parties some political reasons too. Specifically, the opposition is keen to oust the ruling Liberal Party in the next national elections, and its campaign strategy is to connect the Liberal Party with the PRC’s “interference.”


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