Toronto (Canada), March 17 (EFE).- The spate of allegations of Chinese meddling in Canadian politics has not only sparked heated debate in the country and threatens to change an already troubled relationship with the Asian giant, it could also are just “the tip of the iceberg” of what’s really going on.
This points to experts consulted by EFE on the huge number of Chinese operations in the North American country that appear in the Canadian Intelligence Service (CSIS) documents leaked to the media in recent weeks, causing surprise and alarm.
From funding candidates for federal, state and municipal elections through the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto, to cultivating a following among politicians, businessmen and academics, to lobbying members of Canada’s Chinese community and installing clandestine police stations in the main urban centers of the country.
“Election interference is just the tip of the iceberg,” Cheuk Kwan, co-chair of the Association for Democracy in China in Toronto, told Efe, one of the key activists who has denounced Beijing’s activities in Canada for decades. .
In late 2022, according to The Globe and Mail newspaper, CSIS warned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Chinese interference in the 2019 election, with the Toronto Consulate promoting 11 friendly candidates (nine from Trudeau’s Liberal Party and two from the Conservative Party of the Opposition). Party).
Other CSIS documents released by the media indicate that the consulate has handed out large sums of money to friendly candidates and that China conducted a sophisticated operation in the 2021 election to support Trudeau’s re-election, but with the aim of prevent the Liberal party from the absolute majority.
The election was won by Trudeau, although the Liberals only got 160 deputies, 10 fewer than needed to control parliament.
Jeremy Paltiel, a professor emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa and an expert on Canada-China relations, told EFE it’s not new that there is “some interaction” between Beijing and the country’s Chinese community.
“What has surprised me is the direct role that the Chinese consulate in Toronto has been accused of,” explained Paltiel, who added that election interference is clearly “a red line” that Beijing has crossed.
For Paltiel, the Chinese government wants the “China story” to be told as the one approved by Beijing.
“Especially since Xi Jinping took office as president, they want to have a monolithic representation of what China means,” explains the academic, for whom this country’s interference is not comparable to others, such as the one sued by Russia for influencing the US election in which Donald Trump won.
“There is talk of 11 deputies out of a total of 338. It is not like Russia. What we have is a new China that makes no apologies,” he added.
The situation in Canada has become more complicated in recent years as the rivalry with China became the linchpin of US foreign policy.
For years, Ottawa resisted pressure from Washington to ban the use of Huawei equipment in 5G telecommunications technology.
In December 2018, the United States asked Canada to arrest Huawei’s chief financial officer and founder’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou, when her plane stopped in Vancouver. When Meng was detained, China responded by arresting two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Meng, Kovrig and Spavor were finally released in September 2021. But by then, relations between Canada and China had been severely damaged.
Sources consulted by Efe indicated that Canadian intelligence agencies, concerned about relations with their main ally, the United States, have been pressuring the Canadian government for years to move Ottawa closer to Washington.
Ottawa has little room for maneuver due to leaks of CSIS reports.
Paltiel expressed surprise that no one in Canada has questioned the reason or timing of the leak of the CSIS documents.
Since the leaks began, Canada has published its strategic plan for the Indo-Pacific region, hardening its position on China, deeming it a “disruptive power”; has banned Huawei’s 5G equipment and TikTok application on official mobile phones.
Trudeau also ended joint investigations with Chinese scientists associated with Beijing’s military; has appointed a special rapporteur to investigate allegations of Chinese interference; and announced the creation of a registry of lobbyists acting on behalf of foreign governments in Canada.
But at the same time, he opposed the creation of a Commission of Inquiry into Chinese interference, as demanded by the opposition parties.
Kwan supports the creation of the commission and says the only solution for Canada is to stand up decisively against China. “If you don’t, China will not respect Canada,” he said.
Julius Cesar Rivas