MP Michael Chong urges US-Canada cooperation on China interference
In a rare appearance before members of the United States Congress, a Canadian lawmaker, Michael Chong, has called for bilateral collaboration between the two nations to counteract foreign interference originating from Beijing.
Chong himself claims to have been a target of Chinese authorities due to his outspoken criticism of their human rights record. He was invited to share his personal experiences before a Congressional committee responsible for monitoring China-related matters.
During his testimony, Chong emphasized that the actions of Beijing represent a grave and significant national threat to Canada. He stressed that his case is just one example of Beijing’s interference in Canadian affairs, pointing out that numerous other instances remain unnoticed and unreported, with victims suffering in silence.
Canada had previously accused China of conducting a misinformation campaign against Mr. Chong using the popular messaging app WeChat earlier in the year. Additionally, Chong revealed that Canadian intelligence had uncovered evidence of Beijing collecting information on him and his relatives in Hong Kong over the past three years.
In 2021, Chong presented a motion in the Canadian parliament, categorizing China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority as a genocide.
China has repeatedly denied any attempts to intimidate Mr Chong or interfere in Canadian affairs.
In his testimony, the Conservative politician detailed other ways in which he said China has been observed interfering in his country.
This includes recruiting Chinese international students at Canadian universities, he claimed, who are then coerced by Beijing to spy on other students and activists seen as unfriendly to the Communist Party of China (CPC).
He also raised the issue of Beijing-run “police stations” in Canada that have allegedly been used to coerce some Chinese nationals back to China.
China has denied running overseas police stations, calling them “service centers” for its nationals overseas.
As a target of alleged intimidation himself, Mr. Chong said that he had cut off contact with his family in Hong Kong “out of an abundance of caution” to preserve their safety.
“Many, many other people have done the same thing,” he said. “This is one of the consequences of (China’s) transnational repression.”
Mr Chong called on the US and Canada to work together on this issue.
He said this could be done through the sharing of intelligence and publicizing China’s interference attempts, “to preserve our fundamental freedoms, democratic institutions, and the rules-based international order”.
Democratic and Republican US lawmakers on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China applauded Mr Chong’s testimony.
“We have seen relentless targeting of young activists who have spoken against the increasingly repressive conditions in Hong Kong and we have seen unrelenting pressure that continues to be directed at Uyghurs around the world,” said Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley.
The commission, which was established in 2000, keeps tabs on China’s alleged intimidation tactics and monitors a list of people who have vanished in China or taken as political prisoners.
Canada-China relations have been fractured as of late after the alleged intimidation attempts against Mr. Chong were made public.
The issue led Canada to expel a Chinese diplomat in May. China then retaliated and ordered the removal of a Canadian diplomat in its Shanghai Consulate.
Intelligence agencies have also claimed Beijing tried to interfere in federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
Last week, Canada launched a public inquiry into foreign interference by China and other countries.