To The House Of Commons Standing Committee
On Access To Information, Privacy And Ethics
On The Study Of Foreign Interference And Threats To The Integrity Of Democratic Institutions, Intellectual Property And The Canadian State
By Cheuk Kwan, Co-Chair
Toronto Association for Democracy in China
Good morning, Mr. Speaker,
The Toronto Association for Democracy in China was founded on the eve of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. Our organization supports democracy and advocates for human rights in China. As well, in recent years, we have been a watchdog for Chinese interference on Canadian soil.
The first foray by China to exert soft power on Canadian society occurred in the early 90’s when China was eager to polish its international image post Tiananmen massacre. Urged on and supported by Chinese consulates, organizations were set up by individuals sympathetic to the regime.
Chief among them are the National Congress of Chinese Canadians (NCCC) and its successor the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations (CTCCO). These and many other proxy organizations practice the art of astroturfing, echoing the “party” line to defend China’s foreign and domestic policies.
In addition to engaging friendly academics and business people to advocate on its behalf, China also spreads its tentacles to cultivate elected officials and infiltrate political institutions at all levels of the Canadian society. All this is documented in journalist Jonathan Manthorpe’s book “Claws of the Panda.”
One of these instruments of interference is the United Front Work Department. According to official documents, United Front takes special interest in people of Chinese descent living abroad, viewing them as powerful external threats as well as potential allies. It also employs thousands of agents to pursue the Chinese Communist Party’s political strategy to use international networks to advance its global interests.
They also harass and intimidate Canadians who are critical of China – activists, dissidents and human rights defenders – rendering the Chinese Canadian community the real victims of this game.
We are therefore not surprised by the findings of the recent CSIS report.
No doubt, the interference in Canadian electoral process is of grave concern. But I argue that this is but the tip of the iceberg. China’s interference in Canada has been soft, intangible and gradual. As a result, this built-up over the years – the 90% of the iceberg that is under water – remains invisible to many Canadians.
Irrespective of whether the past elections have been fair or not, I argue this invisible part of the iceberg should be the focus of our concern.
In 2017, Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, together with Amnesty International, gathered evidences of harassment and intimidation by the Chinese government on individual in Canada working on China-related human rights concern and published the “Harassment & Intimidation Report.”
The report also urged the government to set up a national hotline to allow for the reporting of these harassment and intimidation incidents that are otherwise ignored by the local police or the RCMP. We therefore urge Canada to address China interference on these multiple fronts by:
- Taking a strong and principle stance in the issues highlighted in CSIS’s reporting;
- Establishing a national reporting hotline on harassment and intimidation; and
- Set up a foreign-agent registry similar to the one in Australia.
While these actions may not completely eliminate the problem, at least they can act as deterrent and serve notice to foreign powers and their proxies that we guard our democratic institutions and our sovereignty seriously.
Thank you, Mr. Chair
ETHI Meeting No. 61 on March 10, 2023
Also appearing in the meeting are
- As an individual
Gabrielle Lim, Doctoral Fellow, Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto
- Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
Mehmet Tohti, Executive Director
- Chinese Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party’s Human Rights Violation
Bill Chu, Spokesperson
- Alliance Canada Hong Kong
Cherie Wong, Executive Director & Ai-Men Lau, Advisor
中國對加拿大社會施加軟實力首次發生在 90 年代初期，當時中國急於在天安門大屠殺後改善其國際形象。在中國領事館的推動及支持下，與該政權為伍的個別人士成立了不少社區組織。
其中最主要的是全加華人聯會 NCCC 及其後演變出的多倫多華人團體聯合總會 CTCCO。該等組織及其屬會只是虛有其表，實質在於呼應「黨」的路線，為中國的外交內政說項。
除了讓友好的學者和商界人士為其代言，中國還伸出長臂培養民選官員，滲透到加拿大各級政府之中。記者文達峰 Jonathan Manthorpe 的《大熊貓的利爪》Claws of the Panda 書中，對這一切都有所記錄。
故此，對最近國土安全部 CSIS 的調查報告我們並不感到驚訝。
毌庸置疑，對加拿大選舉進程的干預確實令人嚴重關切，但我認為這只是冰山一角。中國對加拿大的干涉是軟性、無形和漸進。這座冰山雖然已經積累多年，由於 90% 的冰山都潛藏於水中，因此並未進入許多加拿大人的視線。
2017年，加拿大中國人權聯盟 Canada China Coalition 聯同國際特赦 Amnesty International 對中國政府在加拿大騷擾和恐嚇從事與中國相關人權問題的個人收集證據，並發布了《騷擾和恐嚇報告》Harassment and Intimidation Report。
- 對國土安全部 CSIS 報告中強調的問題採取強硬原則的立場、
- 成立全國熱線舉報騷擾和恐嚇的行為、 和