National Post Comment

It is offensive to Chinese Canadians to call foreign registry ‘racist’

Properly used, the registry will prevent an entire community from being singularly labelled as a threat

By Cheuk Kwan and Dora Nipp


The full article is published on National Post

Lately, the term “racism” has been bandied about by the prime minister, government officials, senators, elected officials at all levels of government, as well as Chinese consulate officials and their proxies. Any CSIS investigation or media reporting about China’s interference brought about the accusations of racism.

When MP Han Dong was named by Global News as one of the eleven Toronto-area riding candidates believed to be supported by the Chinese government in the lead up to the 2019 Canadian election, Justin Trudeau did not hesitate to suggest that it was racist to question the MP’s loyalty to Canada.

When Ontario MPP Vincent Ke resigned from the Progressive Conservative caucus after having been alleged by the same news organization as serving as a financial intermediary in interference schemes by the Chinese Communist Party, he uttered the R-word.

As Canadians of Chinese descent, we find this use of anti-Chinese racism, at best, a shield and a distraction to the real issue at hand — that of China’s interference, influence and meddling — and, at worse, deeply offensive.

When Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced Friday (2023-03-10) that the government would consult on setting up a foreign-agent registry, racism was once again raised. On Twitter, Sen. Yuen Pau Woo equated the registry to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923.

That racist act from a hundred years ago was a blanket anti discriminatory tool used against all Chinese to prevent nearly all immigration into Canada. On the contrary, the foreign-agent registry is for those, whether Canadian or not, who lobby on behalf of foreign governments — China, Russia, Iran, for example.

Properly used, the registry will not only act as a deterrent to potential foreign threats, but will prevent an entire community from being singularly labelled as a threat.

We all have to be careful not to conflate Chinese people with the state, a tactic China’s government often uses to try to silence criticism by trying to spin it into an instance of racism. So, how is it that certain high-profile Canadians are echoing that line straight out of the Chinese Communist Party’s playbook?

Cynically, Chinese consulate officials also played on anti-Asian sentiment and racism during the pandemic to openly assure Chinese Canadians that their “motherland” will take care of them. This conveniently ignores the fact that our community is not monolithic, that we came from many other countries not named China, and that many of us have been here for several generations.

Truthfully, the Chinese Canadian community has long been the victim of China’s interference.

A recent Toronto Star article documented how as early as 2006 warnings of interference by China and its agents on members of the community have been ignored. According to the article, the United Front Work Department is the culprit, as it “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.”

In 2017, the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, together with Amnesty International, issued the “Harassment & Intimidation Report.” There was no media or political response. It was only after the same report was updated and re-issued publicly in 2020 that it received any media attention.

Chinese Canadians welcome this registry.

Though not a panacea, the registry, together with our suggestion that a national hotline be established to allow victims of Chinese government harassment and intimidation to report these activities, will act as deterrents to potential foreign threats to the integrity of our electoral process and to protect us on Canadian soil.

Australia stood up to China and passed the Foreign Influence Act of 2018 and implemented a foreign-agent registry. There were no increase in anti-Chinese racism since that act was passed. We are similar in size and demographics to Australia. Why is Canada hesitating?

We certainly agree with MP Mary Ng that the registry should be created “in such a way that does not stoke anti-Asian racism.” And there are many ways to do so, such as the careful use of language by referencing the government or country, such as China, and not the people.
Our government must not lean on overly simplistic reasoning, false equivalencies or rely on a broad and general assertion of “racism” to deflect from the urgent need for such measures.

After all, shining a light on a few rotten apples can’t be a bad thing.


作者:關卓中 Cheuk Kwan、Dora Nipp

最近,「種族主義」一詞被總理、政府官員、參議員、各級政府的民選議員以至中國領事館官員及其代理人炒作。任何加拿大情報局 CSIS 的調查或媒體的報導關於中國干預行為都會招來種族主義的指責。

據《環球新聞 》Global News 報導,2019 年的聯邦選舉相信有 11 名候選人獲得中共政府支持。其後當指名道姓點出多倫多選區的國會議員董晗鵬 Han Dong 為其中之一時,總理杜魯多 Justin Trudeau 毫不猶豫地表示,這種向國會議員對加拿大效忠的質疑是種族主義。

安大略省議員柯文彬 Vincent Ke 亦被同一家媒體指控為中共干預計劃的金融中介,當他從進步保守黨核心小組辭職時也說出了「歧視」這個 R 字。


當公共安全部長馬守諾 Marco Mendicino 週五 (2023-03-10) 宣布政府將為成立外國代理人登記冊進行諮詢時,種族主義又再被提起。參議員胡元豹 Yuen Pau Woo 於推特 Twitter 發文,將登記冊與 1923 年的《排華法案》”Chinese Exclusion Act” 相題並論。

該法案是一百年前的種族主義行為,是一種全面針對所有華人的歧視工具,使其近乎無法移民往加拿大。 相反,外國代理人登記冊適用於所有為外國政府(例如中國、俄羅斯、伊朗)在加拿大遊說的人,無論該人是否加拿大藉。



可笑的是,中國領事館官員在疫症大流行期間利用反亞裔情緒和種族主義, 向加拿大華人公開保證,他們的「祖國」會照顧他們。我們華人社區並非單一建構,有着分別來自中國及以外的許多其他國家的人,而且當中甚多已經在這裡植根好幾代,這個事實卻隨意地被省略不提。


《多倫多星報》 Toronto Star 最近的一篇文章,記錄了早在 2006 年中國及其代理人對社區人士進行干預的警告是如何被忽視。文章稱,中共統戰部是罪魁禍首,因為它對「移居海外的華裔特別感興趣,將他們視為強大的外部威脅,亦為潛在盟友。它還僱用了數千名特工來執行中國共產黨的政治戰略,利用國際網絡推進其全球利益。」

2017 年,《加拿大中國人權聯盟》 Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China 聯同《國際特赦》 Amnesty International 發布了《騷擾和恐嚇報告》”Harassment & Intimidation Report” ,卻得不到傳媒與政治層面的回應。直到 2020 年該報告作出修訂並重新公開發布後,媒體才加以關注。



澳洲挺起胸膛對抗中國,通過了 2018 年的《外國干預法》”Foreign Influence Act”,向外國代理人實施登記制度。自該法案通過以來,反華種族主義並沒有增加。我們的幅員和人口都與澳洲相似,為何加拿大卻猶豫不決?

我們當然同意國會議員伍鳳儀 Mary Ng 的意見,即應該以「不會激起反亞裔種族主義的方式」成立登記冊。做到這一點其實有很多方法,例如謹慎使用言詞指向政府或國家(例如中國)而非族裔國民。