Sunday, September 19, 2021

Rights candidates targeted during election campaign in China

Candidates and activists fighting against the Chinese regime’s human rights violations and interference actions are finding themselves the target of vote-robbing efforts, such as smear campaigns, candidates and activists say.

Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu, who is seeking re-election in the B.C. riding of Steveston-Richmond East, says he has been the target of misinformation in past election campaigns, but this year “it has been extraordinary.”

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A person enters an advance polling station in Ottawa on September 10, 2021, ahead of the federal election on September 20. (Canadian Press/Adrian Wilde)

“It’s nothing compared to what I’ve seen – it’s multi-dimensional,” Chiu told The Epoch Times, referring to social media posts, radio commentary and online articles in pro-Beijing media that cast him negatively. portray from.

Canada-Hong Kong Link President Gloria Fung says the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a “planned” campaign to “malign and defame” candidates who are vocal about human rights abuses.

“This kind of direct intervention is very, very obvious, and has become more and more aggressive,” Fung said in an interview.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in a report in July that it had noticed an increase in the “frequency and sophistication” of state-sponsored activity targeting elections in Canada. In a rare public address in February, CSIS chief David Vignot labeled China and Russia as hostile foreign governments that directly target Canada’s national security.

A survey by Nanos released this month ahead of the September 20 federal election shows a majority of Canadians want the government to be “more powerful” in its relationship with China.

o’tool targeted

Online articles and posts are not only for the candidates. Chinese state-owned media have also published hostile reports against the Conservative Party and leader Erin O’Toole, who has taken a strong position against the CCP.

The Conservative Party platform has a detailed plan to deal with the Chinese regime, including fighting foreign interference and upholding human rights in China. The forum goes on to say that the plan is directed at the Chinese communist regime, and that the conservatives support the people of China.

In a Twitter post sharing an editorial on the Conservatives, the Chinese state-owned Global Times denounced the party’s platform for Canada’s “toxic anti-China environment” and said it showed them “at the end of the party”.

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Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole speaks to the media in Quebec City on August 18, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Ramiorz)

Richard Lee, spokesman for the Toronto-based Chinese community organization Canadian Platform in Advocacy for Community Awareness (CPACA), says the CCP is concerned about a potential Conservative government.

“The CCP is attacking O’Toole because of its policies on the CCP,” he said through a translator.

misinformation campaign

As an MP, Chiu introduced Bill C-282, a private members’ bill, which seeks to increase transparency by forcing those acting on behalf of foreign entities to register as foreign agents. .

The United States and Australia already have similar laws. Shortly before Australia’s version of the law went into effect in 2017, two former cabinet ministers and a former premier resigned from their positions with organizations that have strong ties with the CCP.

Chiu says his bill was meant to counter foreign interference, but it is being “deliberately” misrepresented to mislead the Chinese community that it is against their interests.

“Someone needs to read the bill I introduced, and they will know what it is about. But it is being twisted,” he said.

One such Chinese article seen by The Epoch Times has a headline that says the bill is meant to “suppress the Chinese community”. Referring to Chiu’s pro-vote in parliament to recognize the persecution of China’s Uighur Muslims as genocide and their demand for Magnitsky sanctions on officials responsible for rights violations in Hong Kong, the article stated that Chiu had Voted to support the Xinjiang Uyghur bill condemning China. and sought to impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong government officials. “

The article urges more people to share the post if they care about the “well-being of the Chinese community.”

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Police arrest protesters taking part in a pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020. (Belong Song / The Epoch Times)

Chiu says the misinformation campaign against him is taking effect, noting that some of the people who volunteered for his campaign in previous elections have not joined this year, and instead that of his Liberal rival Param Bains. are supporting.

The Epoch Times contacted Bains’ campaign for comments, but did not hear back.

Chiu also says that some of his supporters feel restricted in defending him online against the smear campaign because he has family ties in China and is concerned about his safety.

“What I want is just for the information being circulated to be true,” he said. “It’s distracting me a lot, and it’s distracting me. I hoped that people might judge me based on policy and what I’ve done as a Member of Parliament.”

Chiu says he doesn’t know who is behind the misinformation campaign against him, but says it should be investigated.

“The attacks give the impression that they are coordinated, and the timing is working perfectly,” he said.

Chiu, who was one of the CCP-sanctioned lawmakers in retaliation for Canada’s sanctions against Chinese officials involved in persecuting Uighurs, says the CCP tries to brainwash the Chinese people into believing that “party, country and race” All are the same thing, and “If you criticize the party, you are criticizing the country.”

He said that even in Canada there has been a push to portray anyone criticizing the CCP as fanning the flames of hatred against Asians.

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“I couldn’t disagree more,” said Chiu, who immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in 1989.

“As more people of color, Canadians of Chinese heritage, speak out against racism and the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Canada, the mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners, genocidal actions against Uyghur and Ottoman Muslims, … The more the Canadian public will realize that the Chinese community stands behind these Canadian core values.”

‘Chinese citizens’ issues’

Fung of the Canada-Hong Kong link says that the federal government, as well as Election Canada, need to be aware of such stigma campaigns during elections.

She says that in addition to Chiu, there are other Canadian politicians who have been targeted for their stance on the CCP, including NDP candidate Jenny Kwan, who has been vocal in calling for democracy in Hong Kong.

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“There has been a very well planned social media campaign to malign and defame the outspoken candidates [against CCP’s rights violations],” said Fung.

Kwan is seeking re-election in Vancouver East.

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NDP MP Jenny Kwan asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on May 25, 2018 in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A statement provided to The Epoch Times by his campaign office said that Kwan’s campaign manager, Gabriel Yiu, objected to Fred Kwok, an organizer of Vancouver’s Chinese community, who “promoted the Liberal candidate for Vancouver East”. A free lunch was hosted for. Underestimating the “integrity of the election process”.

The Epoch Times reached out to the Liberal Campaign for comment, but did not receive a response.

Kwok paid $1,500 for the August 29 lunch, on top of a previous political donation he had made, which caused him to exceed Election Canada’s $1,650 threshold. In an interview, he said he was unaware of the rules and is now registering as a “third party”, defined by Elections Canada as an individual or group who “takes part in elections or want to impress”.

In an invitation to an August 29 event on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, seen by The Epoch Times, Kwok says everyone is invited to a free lunch, and if the Liberal candidate, Josh Vander Weiss, wins,” This would mean that at least some more lawmakers are paying attention to the issues of Chinese citizens.”

Quan’s campaign statement said that his campaign manager was unsure what Kwok meant when referring to “issues of Chinese citizens” and whether he was referring to “Quan’s stance on China’s human rights abuses and suppression of freedoms”. giving references. The statement said Kwan’s position is in line with his position on human rights, whether in Canada or elsewhere.

Kwok has been an executive with several Chinese organizations in Vancouver, including the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver (CBA), which takes an alliance position with Beijing. This includes running advertisements in Chinese newspapers condemning pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

He told The Epoch Times that he organized the event so that the Chinese community could draw attention to issues that pertain to the community, such as racism, and that he wanted the community to participate in the election and get to know the different candidates. He said that “people take my word and put it out of context,” and dismissed claims that he was promoting a Liberal candidate.

Kwok said he doesn’t care about the position of the candidates under Chinese rule, and is primarily concerned about local businesses in Chinatown.

Asked why his CBA organization is putting pressure on the Hong Kong situation if it is primarily concerned with local issues, he said, “It’s the same, and I don’t keep explaining, so I just refuse. Let me answer another question.”

impact campaign

CPACA’s Lee says it is very clear that in recent years the CCP has significantly increased its influence operating in the Chinese community in Canada. This includes control of Chinese consulate candidates during elections, and the regime’s control of foreign Chinese media, he says.

Li says he has noticed that in this campaign, candidates from the Chinese community who are known to have ties to the Chinese consulate are not as vocal on their position on China as before, as the Canadian public sees the CCP’s hostile acts. Looking more cautious. against Canada, including the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. But he says that behind the scenes, candidates express their views on forums that are more private.

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A man with photographs of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor taken into custody in China on January 21, 2020 in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyke/The Canadian Press)

“While candidates are not publicly talking about their positions and support for Beijing, you can see them expressing their views on social media or other private groups where they are repeating the CCP, such as ask for that release [Huawei executive] Meng Wanzhou and reiterating Beijing’s position on Hong Kong and Xinjiang,” he said.

At the same time, Lee says, influence campaigns are on full display on social media to discourage votes for politicians and parties that go against the interests of the CCP.

“They are using these social media posts to influence the Chinese community.”

With reporting by Limin Zhou.

Omid Ghorishi

Omid Ghorishi is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

Rights candidates targeted during election campaign in China
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