MP Chong Calls for Enhanced US-Canada Ties to Counter China’s Interference

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Given the mounting challenges of foreign interference from China, it is imperative for Canada and the United States to augment their co-operation and coordination, championed Conservative MP Michael Chong in an address to the United States Congress on Tuesday. Chong, who himself is a victim of foreign interference from Beijing, was chosen to appear before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, contributing his insights for their study, “countering China’s global transnational repression campaign”.

“Foreign interference is a formidable adversary to our economy, our long term prosperity and indeed, our societal harmony, as it casts its shadow on our Parliament and our elections,” Chong asserted passionately during his Washington D.C. testimony. “To counter this, we need a combination of tactical measures, a vital component of which is to tighten bonds between allied democracies.”

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The MP urged Canada to invest further in fostering a more robust defense and security partnership with the United States and other allies, stressing the urgency to fortify this strategic alliance, all the while preserving democratic privileges, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms in the face of burgeoning authoritarianism.

Chong’s testimony, a response to the repeated alleged harassment of him and his kin by the Chinese government—an ostensibly vindictive tactic for his criticisms against China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims—was lauded by the Commission Chair, U.S. Representative Christopher Smith. Smith expressed marked disgust at Beijing’s “unacceptable and outrageous overreach.”

At the meeting, Chong highlighted the unvoiced stories of many others facing similar but unnoticed interferences in Canada, leading to the victims’ silent suffering. A panel of experts, who took the stage after Chong, focused on dissecting Beijing’s interference strategies and their consequent impacts on diaspora and dissident communities worldwide.

Furthermore, it was during this discussion that Chong revisited his appeal to the Canadian government to formulate a foreign agent registry akin to those in Australia and the United States, a proposition the Liberal government is considering. “Exchanging information regarding viable legislative examples could prove beneficial, given the commonalities in our democratic judicial systems,” suggested Chong.

Acknowledging the need for such a system, Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, last week stated that the government intends to expedite legislation to establish a foreign agent registry.

Tuesday’s commission session, in which Chong participated, was also an opportunity for proposing recommendations for future congressional and administrative actions and strengthening transatlantic cooperation.

Chong threw light on an array of invasive tactics allegedly utilized by China for interference, including intimidation of diaspora groups and international students, disinformation campaigns on Chinese-language social media platforms, operation of Chinese police stations overseas, and unlawful detentions, illustrating through the case of Canadians, Spavor and Kovrig.

Chong spoke of his recent experience of being ensnared in a disinformation ploy, an instance picked up by a Canadian monitoring system in May, which highlighted a probable China-backed “information operation” aimed at him.

Following numerous appeals over several months, triggered by the reported targeting of Chong, the Liberal government last week initiated a public inquiry into foreign interference in Canadian democracy.

In reaction to a question on the support provided by the Canadian government in relation to the reports of him being targeted, Chong commented, “Democracies are often slow to react to threats from authoritarian states, capable of rapid response, due to their concentration of authority.”

Chong’s case isn’t singular. Many other Canadian MPs and previous federal election candidates allege similar attacks by China. In another significant incident this summer, a retired RCMP officer faced charges related to foreign interference, accused of abetting China’s attempts to “identify and intimidate an individual,” operating outside the framework of Canadian law.

“The relevance of my case is that it’s one among a multitude in Canada, with many Canadians victimised by Beijing on Canadian soil, their stories largely untold. They suffer in silence,” Chong conveyed to CTV News.