Why China Is A Global Threat
July 1st, 2020 | AR
This is the first part of a series that will explore China's many abuses. Next month: “China's Scary Human Rights Record”.
China has been growing, unabated, for more than thirty years. We have exported our manufacturing to the Chinese, sold them cheap oil, allowed them to buy up real estate in Canada and capitulated to their demands. As they charge two of our citizens with espionage and we debate whether to allow their corporate tech company, Huawei, to use our telecommunications infrastructure, the Chinese must be laughing at our weakness. Throughout the years, China has played Canadians and the rest of the world for fools. The time has come to turn the tables on the communist dictatorship before it is too late.
Australia is quickly learning the lessons taught by Chinese deception and global hegemony. China has grown so powerful, militarily and economically, that it can buy influence and manipulate the internal affairs of countries around the world. It has an army of trained, world-class hackers, propagandists and scientists capable of cyber-crimes, sabotage and espionage on an unprecedented scale. Over the course of several months, Australia has become victim to China's aggression.
It has been reported by Australian officials that “sophisticated state-based actors” from a foreign government have engaged in a months-long cyber attack on Australia's institutions and government agencies. The country receiving the blame from Australian security experts and law enforcement is China.
You can read more about China's massive cyber attack on Australia here.
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The rest of the world has been victim to China's aggression for decades, but only in the last year has the country's aggression and sophisticated attacks become worthy of severe scrutiny. As the Coronavirus spreads with rumours of genetic engineering and incompetence, Western journalists continue to defend the powerful communist nation—leading many to speculate about who is signing their paychecks.
It all may sound far-fetched now, but as you read on, you will see facts and reporting from mainstream sources that add credence to every claim and “conspiracy theory” being directed at China. You may follow all of the links to mainstream sources as we go on.
A Global Propaganda Machine
Recently, the European Union concluded that China was behind significant amounts of misinformation regarding the Coronavirus. As well, Twitter removed more than 24,000 accounts suspected of being designed to spread Chinese propaganda and misinformation about Hong Kong and the Coronavirus.
In December of 2018, The Guardian, among other organizations, reported that China had been buying up media outlets and “training scores of journalists” to tell China's story. The Guardian called China's efforts a “worldwide propaganda campaign of astonishing scope and ambition”.
The Guardian's story went on to say something very alarming:
In its simplest form, this involves paying for Chinese propaganda supplements to appear in dozens of respected international publications such as the Washington Post. The strategy can also take more insidious forms, such as planting content from the state-run radio station, China Radio International (CRI), on to the airwaves of ostensibly independent broadcasters across the world, from Australia to Turkey.
Meanwhile, in the US, lobbyists paid by Chinese-backed institutions are cultivating vocal supporters known as “third-party spokespeople” to deliver Beijing’s message, and working to sway popular perceptions of Chinese rule in Tibet. China is also wooing journalists from around the world with all-expenses-paid tours and, perhaps most ambitiously of all, free graduate degrees in communication, training scores of foreign reporters each year to “tell China’s story well”.
We must remember, The Guardian published this story in 2018. This is not a relatively new story or new revelation about China's efforts to spread propaganda and positive information about its communist regime. At the time of its publication, it was suggested that China had been engaged in these propaganda efforts for years.
To many, The Guardian has been known as a fairly liberal, or left-wing, publication.
Now that the Coronavirus has damaged China's reputation, we should not expect the regime to pull back. In fact, it has upped the ante. As The Atlantic reported in 2020, China has a plan to win back the world's favour:
Before the coronavirus hit, the party was becoming bolder in its propaganda efforts overseas as China grew richer and more powerful, trying to promote around the world the orthodoxy it enforced at home, about the beneficence and goodness of the CCP. This involved publicizing Chinese investments in the developing world, arm-twisting diplomats to toe a pro-China line, ruthlessly trying to stifle even other countries’ freedom to dissent—to the point of sanctioning Norway in 2010 when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its peace prize to the imprisoned democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, who died in 2017. Xi has elevated the role of propaganda even further as he has vowed to build China’s power and prosperity, declaring, “The superiority of our system will be fully demonstrated through a brighter future.”
It has been well known among security analysts, media and politicians that China has been heavily engaged in a global propaganda campaign. The news about China's efforts has been in plain sight for years, but it has fallen under the radar. With the Coronavirus pandemic, China has faced a public relations nightmare and a backlash of unprecedented strength. This should only be expected to make China's ambitions even more aggressive in the coming years.
Canadians familiar with a 1997 CSIS report are today asking themselves how long our political parties have been in bed with China. In 1997, an operation conducted jointly between the RCMP and CSIS revealed that China had been buying up Canadian real estate in major cities in order to influence and control local politicians. That same report was buried by the incumbent Liberal government of Jean Chretien just months after CSIS published its findings.
The operation was called Sidewinder and it warned of a partnership between Chinese criminal and intelligence elements attempting to influence the internal politics of several countries around the world. One of those countries was Canada. The full details of the report can be read here.
The report and its recommendations were entirely swept under the rug by the Chretien government and none of the advice it offered was ever taken. The report warned about Canada's uniqueness in terms of how most of its major power centres are concentrated in just a small handful of cities, like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal—making China's efforts far easier. The report also warned that much of Canada's financial power is “held in the hands of a few”. All of this, the report indicated, has made it easier for China to exert control inside Canada's political chambers.
"China has been growing, unabated, for more than thirty years."
The report named two Chinese-Canadian tycoons who had been aggressively acquiring Canadian real estate for more than a decade at the time: Li Ka-Shing and Stanley Ho. The report never mentioned the reasons for why these two tycoons are suspicious figures, but a US intelligence report published in 2003 indicates Stanley Ho was identified by the RCMP as having links to a Chinese criminal enterprise that is heavily involved with Chinese intelligence.
The report also pointed to students and shell companies with links to China as potential mediums being used by Chinese intelligence to manipulate Canada's internal politics and to build an intelligence power-structure inside the country.
With these findings being published in 1997, the allegations are now more than twenty years old, meaning much of China's ambitions may have already been realized.
Foreign Interference Systems
A brand new report published in 2020 has reaffirmed most of what has been mentioned here. Some of the findings in this new report were published by the Toronto Star, which interviewed one of the report's authors:
The report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think-tank details how Beijing uses the United Front Work Department to stifle criticism, infiltrate foreign political parties, diaspora communities, universities and multinational corporations.
The report draws on extensive reviews of Chinese Communist Party documents, Chinese-language media articles, overseas organizations’ websites as well as photographs and posts on Chinese social media platforms including WeChat.
The United Front Work Department has been an official department of the Chinese Communist Party since 1979, when ambitious Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping tasked it to collect information from sources around the world and advance global support for the party. An earlier iteration of the United Front Work Department was first founded by the CCP in 1948, but had gone dormant.
The CCP says that United Front work is democratic, to seek consultation from people and organizations around the world, but its own documents show that the United Front agency works closely with the propaganda department as well as the ministry of state security, which is China’s intelligence agency.
In recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over an expansion of the agency that included adding 40,000 staff.
The same Toronto Star article also calls China's foreign interference in Canada “widespread”, citing the author as saying, “When it comes to Canadians attending major United Front conferences and events, online directories of attendees show a large number of Canadian participants as well as Australians.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has re-opened speculation and accusations about China's growing bio-weapons research programs. Fuelled by the conspiracy theories surrounding the Coronavirus, some of the accusations and suspicions being directed at China are, in fact, based in reality.
In July 2019, a Chinese-Canadian scientist, her husband and her students were escorted out of Winnipeg's level 4 National Micro Biology Lab. The lab has now become the focus of an ongoing RCMP probe. Xiangguo Qiu, the microbiologist under investigation, was credited with developing a drug to fight Ebola and received an award for innovation from Canada's Governor General in 2018.
The same Winnipeg lab received a request for samples of Ebola and other deadly pathogens from the Wuhan Institute Of Virology in early 2019—the epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic. The request was fulfilled by someone—probably Qiu or one of her colleagues—and the samples were sent to China sometime in 2019.
The RCMP has kept the ongoing investigation under wraps and instructed employees of the Winnipeg lab to stay quiet.
Just this year, the US State Department warned that China is currently conducting clandestine research into biological weaponry. Bio-weapon research was made illegal by the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which was signed by both the United States and China. However, international intelligence agencies have long suspected that Beijing may be conducting research covertly.
Under the guise of “biological defence research”, China's military has been suspected of experimenting with gene editing, cloning and bio-engineering. The Wuhan lab has often worked closely with the Chinese military on several projects related to medicine and “biological defence”.
Stay tuned next month for part two of this series: “China's Scary Human Rights Record”.
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