I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number four of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. Pursuant to the motion adopted on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, the committee is meeting on its study of Canada-China relations.
Today's meeting is in hybrid format, pursuant to the motion adopted by the House on September 23, 2020. The meeting is also televised and will be available on the House of Commons website.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
Members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen, of either floor, English or French. Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. If you are participating by video conference, please click on the microphone icon to unmute yourself.
However, when one of the members here at the committee is asking questions, don't wait for me to respond. I should warn you that at some point when a member's time is up, I have to cut them off—or cut you off as witnesses—at that time. I just wanted to let you know that ahead of time.
I remind you that all interventions by members as well as by witnesses must be addressed to the chair. Please speak slowly and clearly.
When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
I would now like to welcome our first panel of witnesses. We have, as an individual, Mr. Steve Tsang, director, SOAS China Institute, University of London; Mr. Adam Nelson, senior adviser for Asia-Pacific, National Democratic Institute; and, Ms. Mabel Tung, chair, Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement.
Welcome, everyone, and thank you for being here.
I should let you know that Mr. Tsang has to leave at 11:50 Eastern Time.
We will start with opening remarks.
Mr. Tsang, the floor is yours for five minutes.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
In my five minutes, I would like to explain that the Chinese government's hardline approach toward Hong Kong now is not something that's totally unavoidable. They have chosen a hard line by a clear decision. We should not forget that in 2003, when there were also half a million people going out in the streets of Hong Kong to protest a national security law being introduced, the government at the time, in both Hong Kong and Beijing, agreed to pull back from that process. Hong Kong basically returned to normal.
So there was nothing inherent in the situation in 2019 through 2020 that required this very strong hardline approach by the Chinese government. It did so because things changed. Things changed in terms of China's leadership. Xi Jinping took a very different approach from his predecessor. Things changed also because, as a matter of reality, Hong Kong is not economically as significant to China as it was in 1997 or in the 1980s, when the Chinese government agreed to give Hong Kong its special status after 1997. Hong Kong now accounts for less than 3% of the Chinese economy. Back in 1997 it was something like 20%. In the 1980s we were talking about over 30%. This change made Hong Kong dispensable.
About two years ago, the Chinese government also changed, under Xi Jinping, the way they looked at Hong Kong's place in China. Instead of seeing Hong Kong as a completely unique place, as a Hong Kong special administrative region, they started to see Hong Kong as part of what they call the Greater Bay Area, which in fact has Shenzhen at the very centre of it. They wanted Hong Kong to be part of the Greater Bay Area and to contribute to the Greater Bay Area in ways that neither Shenzhen or Guangzhou could do, but Hong Kong was no longer seen as all that special.
You had the enormous protests in Hong Kong in the summer of 2019. The Chinese government under Xi Jinping essentially saw Hong Kong as rebellious and dispensable, and therefore things would have to change. As a result of this, they introduced the state security law this year. Under the Hong Kong Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitution, the Chinese government has every right to ask Hong Kong to introduce some kind of a national security law. It is provided for in the Basic Law in article 23. But instead of doing so, the Chinese government chose to have the National People's Congress standing committee impose an external state security law to Hong Kong. I think it was deliberately to intimidate people in Hong Kong to make sure they got the message and stop protesting—or, from their perspective, stop rebelling.
From their perspective, they have succeeded. The older-generation pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have gone quiet or have chosen to retire. The younger people have been sufficiently intimidated that we are not seeing the kinds of massive protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong, even though this is going to be a major change to Hong Kong. The state security law also has this extraterritorial application built into it, reflecting that the Chinese government really is no longer all that worried about the international responses to how it deals with Hong Kong. I think we should bear that in mind.
Mr. Chair, I am aware that I have only about 22 seconds left. I want to underline that I used the term “state” security law deliberately, because what they've introduced is not really a national security law. Hong Kong does not face a national security problem. Hong Kong faces a regime security issue.
This is what they are looking at. This is what they are dealing with. Therefore, we can expect the Chinese government to continue to take a very hard line towards Hong Kong, with all its implications for friends of the Hong Kong people, like the Canadian government.
I will stop here and hand it back to you.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
I'm Adam Nelson, senior adviser on the Asia-Pacific team at the National Democratic Institute, dialing in from Washington, D.C. I do want to acknowledge that Washington, D.C., is the traditional land of the Anacostan Piscataway people.
I am always happy to speak about the future of democracy and human rights in Hong Kong. The city is near and dear to my heart, as I spent nearly a decade living, working and studying there, primarily focused on democracy, human rights and social entrepreneurship in both mainland China and Hong Kong.
With offices in over 50 countries, NDI is a non-partisan, non-governmental organization that has worked for over 35 years to promote democratic principles of transparency, accountability and inclusion worldwide and to support the development of democratic institutions. We work closely with our sister organizations, the International Republican Institute, the Center for International Private Enterprise and the Solidarity Center, to do this work.
Along with many other global donors, Global Affairs Canada has been a strong supporter of our work, particularly in the Middle East and Eurasia, and we want to thank them for that support.
Before I speak about NDI's work in Hong Kong, I would like to note that in the realm of relations with China, NDI stands for pro-democracy, not anti-China.
Since 1997, NDI has worked with partners from across the political spectrum to help Hong Kong realize the democratic promises made in the Basic Law and the Sino-British joint declaration. We have done this by partnering or working with Hong Kong academic institutions and the entire range of political parties and civil society groups to advance non-partisan research, education and dialogue to support inclusive and citizen-responsive governance.
In addition, NDI has conducted regular comprehensive assessments of Hong Kong's democratic progress, including rule of law and protection of civil liberty, as part of our ongoing “Promise of Democratization in Hong Kong” series.
Clearly, our work has had an impact. Fearing our work, Beijing singled us out as an organization for sanctions—and NDI's president as well—to get us to stop doing our programs. We are not. In fact, we are looking for ways to expand and to continue supporting the people of Hong Kong in their democratic aspirations.
The fundamental challenge with Hong Kong's new national security law—barring succession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces—is mainly that the law can be and is now being used for whatever Beijing or Hong Kong's leadership want it to be. They will fit any action, whether peaceful protest or criticism, into the law.
We have seen pro-democracy champions arrested and charged, young people grabbed off Hong Kong streets, legislators harassed and independent media attacked. Some have found the operating environment so fearful that they have fled the city to the U.K., Europe, Taiwan, the U.S. and, of course, Canada.
We also see Beijing's strident “wolf warrior” diplomacy in play when their ambassadors strike out and threaten the west in response to any criticism of China's abuses under the new law.
NDI itself is seeing a rising fear among our historic partners. Some partners fear the national security law enough to curtail their relationship with NDI, thereby having the intended impact: a chilling effect on democratic discussion.
Many pro-democracy groups, aside from certain key leaders, fear standing out in advocacy or statements for fear of their families being targeted back in Hong Kong or arrested upon return.
NDI will continue to support efforts on two lines: first, in supporting pockets of democratic resilience in Hong Kong's now closing space and, secondly, in international advocacy, by liaising with the international community on democracy and governance issues facing Hong Kong and primarily working to amplify the views of Hong Kong citizens themselves.
We are currently finalizing the report of our latest public opinion poll. In the last several years, we have conducted a series of surveys to engage Hong Kong citizens' perspectives on democratic development and political reform. The second survey was conducted in the fall of 2018, and the latest was done in the fall of 2019, which has provided a direct comparison on how the protest movement has affected people's attitudes. One notable result has been the prioritization of democracy over the economy, especially among young people.
We have also just begun a comprehensive remote analysis that will examine the political environment in the aftermath of the new law and the decision to delay the legislative council elections. We are working with Canadian partners to conduct polling and social media monitoring to look at the information environment and map the sources and proliferation of misinformation, work we are now doing strongly with civic technology partners in Taiwan. The polling is still in the field but shows some indication of lack of trust in a credible polling environment ahead of the legislative council elections next year and a strong desire for Hong Kongers to leave the city.
Canada has a long history of leveraging its moral standing within the global community to push and advocate on democracy and human rights. I'd be happy to speak about how the Government of Canada can continue to play a constructive role in light of this situation in Hong Kong.
It is an honour for me to be invited and to represent my organization, the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement. It was formed in June 1989 after the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Over the past 31 years our organization has assisted and sponsored many Chinese democracy dissidents and activists to settle in Canada. As Canadians with Hong Kong roots and connections, we have witnessed year-long anti-extradition law protests and thousands of arrests and police atrocities towards the peaceful protesters.
Ever since the national security law was passed, it has been used to crack down on the legitimate and peaceful expression of opinions. People have been arrested for possessing flags, stickers and banners with political slogans. The law is also used to prosecute pro-democracy political figures and activists.
Many Hong Kongers who participated in the movement fear they will face the same fate the student protesters in Tiananmen Square did 31 years ago. They look to western democracies for protection and safe harbour. Already 46 Hong Kong citizens, many of whom have taken part in past demonstrations, are seeking asylum in Canada, citing harassment and brutality at the hands of police, and fear of unjust prosecution. We expect this number to increase once our border is open to foreign visitors.
Over this last year we helped several young people seeking political asylum in Canada. Their situation is one of struggle and hardship. They're not able to study due to the high tuition fees for non-residents. They suffer from PTSD and yet they're unable to afford costly psychological treatment, which is not covered by refugee claimants' medical coverage and they're unable to find jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the Government of Canada to expedite processing of these existing cases and to allocate resources in preparation for a large number of asylum seekers in the coming months.
Domestically, the Canadian political elite face a rude awakening to the true colour of a totalitarian regime that uses bullying and hostage diplomacy towards Canada, a state they see as lesser to them. Even as our politicians are scrambling to reassess and re-evaluate Canada's engagement with China, China has for years been infiltrating every corner of Canadian society. The infiltration is most prevalent within the Chinese communities across the country.
In the past 50 years, many Chinese have emigrated overseas to escape political prosecution, seek new opportunities or reunite with their families, but the CCP treats overseas Chinese as an intangible asset for trade, cultural exchange and technology and for importing know-how and influencing foreign governments. Many countries have the same attitude to their own people living overseas, but the CCP's use of overseas Chinese transgresses many moral and legal boundaries.
The Confucius Institute that we have in B.C. does not teach language and culture only, but also the CCP ideology and values, inside our Canadian education system. Also the “thousand person” scheme has been investigated by the FBI and found to be a scheme to access U.S. science and technology. A similar scheme in Canada serves the same purpose, to get Canadian science and technology. CSIS has already warned our universities about this issue.
The CCP also recruits overseas Chinese to serve its purposes and to speak out for the CCP by flooding social media with news and materials to advertise the achievements and the greatness of the CCP and China. These media include the Chinese and Hong Kong TV channels, WeChat and some productions made by Chinese language media in Canada.
A good example is that recently many local Chinese organizations, including the Chinese Benevolent Association and the National Congress of Chinese Canadians, put out an advertisement in local newspapers in support of the national security law, to create the illusion that local Chinese communities support the law, even though the law is against our Canadian values of freedom of speech and expression.
We urge the Canadian government to ban the Confucius Institute from our schools, monitor the activities of the United Front Work Department, ban Huawei, ban WeChat, and impose the Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials directly implicated in human rights abuses in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.
Thank you very much.
I would note that when I lived in Hong Kong, it very much felt, as Professor Tung noted, like a safe city. I moved there in 2006. Things changed drastically when Xi Jinping came to power.
I would travel to mainland China, and when I came back to Hong Kong it felt like a place where one could be particularly free. That is not what Hong Kong is today. For example, on my last trip to Hong Kong, I was there with NDI's president, Derek Mitchell, and our regional director, Manpreet Anand. We were followed from their arrival at the airport. People took our pictures. They took our pictures as we were having meetings around the city and as NDI's president was meeting with other ambassadors and folks in the city. They would put those into mainly Beijing-run newspapers. It was done in an effort to scare and intimidate along with the sanctions that have been forced against us.
In addition, I do think that the environment in Hong Kong under the national security law, in terms of data and the presence of mainland security forces, is very difficult. It's quite scary. I myself, given the work I'm doing—even the fact of joining this meeting, which is illegal under the national security law and, I believe, prosecutable—do not feel safe going back to the city. I would fear what Beijing might do to target me.
Finally, on your question of Canadians in the city, I think we can't ignore the fact that the Chinese ambassador to Canada did overtly threaten the 300,000 Canadian citizens sitting in Hong Kong. We've seen that they have followed through with those threats in the past. If I were a Canadian company executive or a citizen sitting in Hong Kong, I would also be nervous.
I think the Canadian government has done well, but I think there's always scope for the government to do more. What we're dealing with in Hong Kong is something that I don't think any single western democracy can take on and can deal with on its own and be successful. If we all work together...and there's no reason why Canada should not take a lead in such a matter, since Canada has the second-largest group of foreign nationals in Hong Kong, the first one being, of course, the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom citizens in Hong Kong are the BNO passport holders. They are not U.K. passport holders. Looking at the full national passport holders, Canadians, in fact, number above everybody else in Hong Kong, which gives a very good reason for Canada to take the lead in such a matter and to co-ordinate with the other democracies and other countries that have significant number of citizens in Hong Kong, to make it very clear that if something happens to them, then the governments will act collectively to help them.
The Chinese government under Mr. Xi Jinping does behave a bit like a schoolyard bully, and we know how schoolyard bullies behave. When they meet with serious, real strength that can cause them serious damage, they usually back off. If they don't do so, they will push.
This is something that we hear quite a bit, so thank you for the question.
First of all, I would note that we do get competitive U.S. government grants. We get competitive private grants. We also get a lot of funding, as I noted, from Canada, from the British DFID, the Australians and others to do the work that we do around the world.
The work we do is about strengthening global democratic institutions: free and fair elections, political party and civil society development. The work we do is about supporting the partners on the ground. We do nothing except at the invitation of those who we work with.
In Hong Kong, all of the work that we did was because a university wanted to do one of these research reports. A civil society organization wanted to focus on women's political participation and wanted to know how to do some of that work better. They wanted to have youth debates.
We are always happy to step in, as we do anywhere else, and provide the more technical assistance that we've gathered from our 35 years of work, transferring some of that knowledge from other places that face similar challenges, but in some places, of course, there is financial assistance so that they can pay to have the meetings and can pay to produce the reports. We stand by that as well.
My last question is for Professor Tsang.
Professor, you just mentioned in the previous questioning that when a bully is basically stood up to—if I understood you correctly, at least—they back off. Because Canada cannot lead this effort, how can Canada and other like-minded countries coalesce around a certain set of issues to pressure China on matters of concern? What are the pressure points that the Xi regime is likely to respond to?
I've asked the question before of other witnesses, but I think it's quite crucial as Canada evaluates its relationship to China and begins to think about working with other like-minded allies, including middle powers, on how to approach China going forward.
Thank you to all the witnesses. Of course, we have three witnesses and, as you just found out, six minutes, so I will try to be succinct.
Professor Tsang, you were on record in 2016 as saying, “A strong and well-articulated international response that brings the matter to [President] Xi’s attention may persuade him that it is in China’s best interest to put a stop to this process of undermining the 'one country, two systems' framework.” From hearing what you said today, I think you believe that's still the case. At the same time, you're also quoted as saying that it would be preferable to continue the one country, two systems model with a “tolerable” erosion rather than having it completely lost, and talking about the greater bay initiative.
Is there some contradiction between these positions, or could you clarify that for us?
Ms. Tung, I would like to ask you a couple of questions. First of all, thank you for your presentation. There are two questions I'm interested in. I will ask you both of them, and hopefully you can touch on both.
In terms of Chinese nationals, or Chinese Canadians, shall we say, is there fear amongst the Chinese population in Canada that they may self-censor or behave in a different manner in their activities as a result of what's going on in China today and in Hong Kong in particular? Do these advertisements you are talking about—the Chinese benevolent society and others—have a following at all among the Canadian Chinese?
Second, you talked about Canada helping the Hong Kong Chinese with a lifeboat. How do you envisage that taking place?
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all the witnesses.
In particular, Mr. Nelson, your discussion about having cameras follow you in Hong Kong reminded me of an experience I had in Hong Kong as far back as 2017, when I was there on a parliamentary committee trip and had dinner at Jimmy Lai's house. A car followed me all the way back to my hotel, and someone jumped out to take photos. It was quite a striking experience for a relatively new member of Parliament, so thank you for sharing your experience on that score as well.
My first question is for Mr. Tsang.
During his questioning, Mr. Fragiskatos made a sort of side comment and said that Canada cannot lead this effort. It struck me, because I don't think I agree. I think Canada could play a unique leadership role on the issue of Hong Kong. I think we're uniquely positioned. We don't have the same colonial history in Asia, we don't have the same sort of superpower baggage and we have deep ties with Hong Kong.
Do you have thoughts specifically on the leadership role Canada could play in response to what's happening in Hong Kong?
I would. I think that's a great question.
Professor Tsang has spoken about refugees and alliances. There's one thing I would note on the alliances. Number one, I would point particularly to pursuing alliances in Asia-Pacific itself. We see a lot of movement in Japan and South Korea.
For example, Mr. Genuis, I know that you're on the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. I think the development of that group—and the more Canadian members of Parliament can take leadership to be able to work with other parliamentarians worldwide—will be particularly helpful.
Finally, I would say that the Chinese Communist Party doesn't like sunshine on these issues. They don't like transparency, so even things like these sorts of hearings help, where people can speak and submit papers for the record, or there's what the Government of Canada could do to provide funding, maybe through Global Affairs Canada or other things, to Canadian NGOs and Canadian universities, to be able to continue to highlight these issues and do fact-finding to get more on paper.
The Chinese government is very controlling. It controls everything. From the very beginning, in childhood—I'm talking about the mainland Chinese in China—they are kind of brainwashed. They have to praise their leaders on and on, and they have to follow the instructions, so from then on they always think that China is the greatest country in the world and that they shouldn't allow the separation of any part of the Chinese land by anybody.
That is deep in their minds, and then they also try to influence a lot of Chinese outside of China. That's why some of the students, the international students, once they are able to get an education in the western world and they understand what democracy really means, they kind of object to what they have been learning since childhood.
In the past we provided a lot of support to some of the students, especially after June 4, 1989. We've been helping quite a few people to settle in Canada for that reason. Also, we are really passionate about some of the mothers of the Tiananmen Square students who died, because those mothers are still not able to openly remember their children and how they died, and they didn't even know at all. We are really passionate about that, and that's what has kept us going for the last 31 years.
I call the meeting back to order.
Welcome back to all members.
Welcome to our new witnesses.
I would like to make a few comments for the benefit of the new witnesses.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When you are ready to speak, you can click on the microphone icon to activate your mike. However, once members are asking you questions, you can respond immediately. You don't have to wait for me to recognize you.
At the end of the time, I will intervene. I'm afraid I may have to interrupt sometimes to go on to the next member.
I remind you that all interventions by members and witnesses must be addressed to the chair.
Members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice at the bottom of your screen of either floor, English or French.
Please speak slowly and clearly.
When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
I would now like to go to our witnesses. We have with us, as an individual, Mr. Bill Chu, founder of Canadians for Reconciliation, and, also as an individual, Mr. Victor Ho, retired editor-in-chief for the Sing Tao Daily, B.C. edition.
Mr. Chu, please proceed with your five-minute opening remarks.
Chair Regan, I am most honoured to be part of this discussion.
Imagine if thousands of little green men arrived from Mars. Perhaps Canada would have taken this threat assessment more seriously. However, while China is obviously not Mars, it is no longer Pierre Trudeau's notion of China either. Through the previous witnesses and recent global events, I am sure we realize that Canada needs not just some fine tuning with China but a brave, new and comprehensive strategy to face a rising new world order that seems to be bent on changing the global understanding of law, human rights and values. Therefore, it is for the future and soul of Canada that I am sharing my experience as a Hong Kong Canadian in Vancouver.
My awakening to the PRC's undue influences in my own activism began in June 1989, when I participated in organizing a memorial service in Vancouver for the martyrs of Tiananmen Square. Soon after June 4, the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, abbreviated CBA, joined hundreds of organizations in publicly condemning the CCP's bloody suppression of peaceful students. The Chinese consulate was quick to get the United Front working and “unified” the CBA board to stand in line with the CCP. The switchover enabled the PRC to inherit the same name recognition as an old Chinatown organization and to use it to further its influence in the Chinese community. The CBA soon became one of the key PRC intermediaries in B.C., which wove together an ever-expanding network of clans, diaspora, business, cultural, educational and media groups, a task made easy with identity politics and CCP being the only party in contention.
With PRC's suppression of Hong Kong protesters last year, CBA took on a more visible role, buying front page ads in local Chinese newspapers to defend the national security law and to propagate China's condemnation of Hong Kong protesters seeking the universal values of freedom and democracy. It purported to represent the Chinese community at large, despite the countless Chinese who have migrated to escape the CCP's tyranny. CBA's ads included the names of a few hundred local Chinese organizations and clans. This was ironic since CBA also had been funded generously by Canadian Heritage to host Canada Day celebrations.
In October 2019, rallies were held across Canada to protest the proposed extradition law for Hong Kong. Simultaneously pro-PRC counter-protesters organized efforts to disrupt these rallies. At the symbolic Lennon Wall in Richmond I witnessed a loud and intimidating confrontation involving the words on the wall being torn down and loonies being thrown at a protester. The RCMP who arrived did nothing to the assailants. As a formal complaint to Richmond's RCMP was filed by the victim and was not responded to, I requested a meeting at the RCMP detachment. During our meeting the constable turned out to be no more than a PR man, one unfamiliar with the Chinese Canadian community. Despite his promise, no one received any word back about the case.
Unsettled by the RCMP's indifference, I arranged a meeting with a CSIS officer. He was candid and revealed that, unlike the FBI or MI5, CSIS mainly does research. Their officers do not carry guns and any necessary enforcement or arrests are done by the RCMP. Furthermore, though CSIS prepares national security reports, those reports are sent on an advisory basis to only the few within the federal government's national security committee.
To my surprise, those contents were never shared with other MPs, never mind the thousands of MLAs, mayors and councils.
It is a great honour for me to present the journalistic experiences and personal observations of foreign government influence on our ethnic Chinese community and especially how the United Front strategy of the Chinese Communist Party, the CCP, is being executed in the Chinese-language mass media circle.
When it comes to foreign government interference in our ethnic Chinese society, the latest case I want to talk about is the Chinese consulate general’s radio speech regarding the national security law, the NSL, of Hong Kong.
Ms. Tong Xiaoling, the Chinese consul general in Vancouver, released her half-hour announcement on this issue on a local Chinese radio station on July 23, 2020. It was programmed in newscast airtime. She simply asked Chinese Canadians to support NSL Hong Kong and said that there are a very few people in Canada trying to slander the NSL and attempting to cause trouble overseas as well. Ms. Tong then elaborated that some local Chinese Canadians pose a threat to those who really love Hong Kongers here and make personal attacks on them.
But the consul general did not mention that the NSL Hong Kong is totally contrary to Canadian core values. She treats Chinese Canadians as Chinese nationals, when of course they are not. She seems to challenge the political allegiance of our ethnic Chinese citizens. Also, she exploits the free airwaves of our broadcaster to convey the political propaganda messages of the Chinese government. To meet diplomatic protocol, she should have made it a paid advertisement.
This event indicates that some of our Chinese-language news media assist in spreading propaganda for foreign governments. The code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists states:
Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labelled and not misrepresent fact or context.
I would like the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, to investigate such cases for the sake of protecting the public interest of Canada. Also, we need to safeguard the Chinese community from being infiltrated by political directives from a foreign government.
In regard to the United Front Work Department of the CCP, there are some pro-Beijing commentators of Chinese radio stations spreading one-sided stories, playing as kind of long-time apologists for the Chinese regime. This seems like an orchestrated effort of the UFWD, with the ultimate goal to brainwash or to at least influence our Chinese Canadian audience into accepting the policy from the CCP.
Another obvious result of the UFWD is to establish many overseas social organizations to propagate or to carry out pro-China policy. Local United Front organizations of the CCP are being weaponized to publish newspaper ads, showing the political muscle of the Beijing regime.
Last year, we saw Hong Kong's young people protesting on the streets against the amendment of the fugitive offenders ordinance. They were beaten brutally by the police force. Over 50 local Chinese social groups published a joint statement ad in Chinese newspapers to condemn the Hong Kong protestors. The leading organizations, to name a few, are the Chinese Benevolent Association, the CBA; the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, the CCC; and the National Congress of Chinese Canadians, the NCCC. Some of the leading figures in such social groups are playing the role of volunteer ambassadors for the Vancouver consulate of China.
As you have just read from news stories, the first person charged under Australia’s foreign interference law is a well-known member of the ethnic Chinese community—
We've talked a lot about the impact of the PRC's tightening control over Hong Kong on pro-democracy protesters. We have also talked about the impact of the People's Republic of China's new attitude towards Chinese nationals abroad. I think it goes even further than that, since someone mentioned that one of the previous witnesses had been denounced by PRC authorities.
So now we can expect the People's Republic of China to crack down on people who are not even their nationals. We have seen, as you evoked in your presentations, that the PRC is using groups in Canada to put pressure on opponents of its regime and is even engaging in some harassment. Some witnesses have told us in previous meetings that even in Canada, we should fear possible kidnappings by the People's Republic of China.
What measures can be put in place by the Canadian government to, firstly, control these groups that are literally harassing people and promoting the Chinese Communist Party regime on Canadian territory, and secondly, to prevent possible actions such as kidnappings on Canadian territory?
If I can try to answer this first, the government can do a number of things, because all the ministries at this point are operating without a good understanding of the national security risks to which Canada is exposed. At this point, as I described earlier, I seem to be running into a wall even when I try to lay a complaint at the right party, so never mind all the other ministries—for example, Heritage Canada. I mentioned that.
Also, then, there is multiculturalism, which has been made use of or exploited as a passport for expanding on the extension of certain messages. On immigration, we should start checking into the scholars or whoever is coming into Canada as to whether they have military backgrounds, as the U.S.A. has found out from the scholars who are from China.
There's a whole number of things that at the government level we can do, and we can stop funding organizations that on one hand receive funds from Canada and on the other hand are denouncing Canadian values. There's a whole number of things, but as far as kidnapping is concerned, that is out of my league. I don't know.... Until and unless CSIS is equipped to do more than just researching and there is some way of enforcing what they see as wrong...otherwise, that would be problematic.
Thank you. It's important to understand that this is a one-party state.
I would like to go back to Mr. Ho for a second.
As a newspaper man, Mr. Ho, you're very familiar with propaganda and all of that. In eastern Europe, particularly in the Baltic States, there's a lot of concern about Russian influence or Russia attempting to continue to have influence in the Baltic States. These countries go so far as to call it “information warfare”.
Is that too strong a term to use when you're dealing with the Chinese efforts amongst the Chinese community within Canada? Am I overstating that? If it is egregious and, as you say effective, is there something that should be done about it from a legal point of view?
I want to begin by thanking the people here today for their insightful comments and for their courage in testifying before our committee. I am very grateful to them.
I want to come back to the matter of the Internet. We spoke about Huawei and the 5G network with Mr. Chu a few moments ago. We also talked about WeChat, which is apparently controlled by China.
I'd like to talk about HK Leaks, which reveals information about opponents of the Beijing regime and is apparently hosted on a Russian server. Perhaps you don't have this information, but the question is, first of all, whether Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong have been the subject of such denunciations on this site and whether Canadians, on Canadian territory, have also been denounced on this site.
What do you think of such a tool? Do you think there will be more of them? What can be done to limit the scope of such a denunciatory tool from the Chinese regime?