By Aidan Jonah -May 17, 2021
Over the past few weeks there has been a ramping up of a sinophobic anti-China campaign by Canadian media. This campaign comes in total disregard of the clear links between rampant Sinophobia and the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes across the continent, including Canada. The core element of this campaign is a push to create the impression among Canadians that China is plotting to subvert Canadian “democracy” and infiltrate Canadian institutions. The groups used as proxies to push these dangerous narratives: Hong Kong “pro-democracy” dissident groups in Canada, and “Uyghur rights” groups and their imperialist sympathizers.
Garside and the “China Coup”
On April 30, the Globe & Mail posted an op-ed from Roger Garside: “Regime change in China is not only possible, it is imperative,” in which the author, who served as an army officer in Hong Kong in 1958, and as served as a diplomat twice in British consulate in China, daydreams about an internal coup where top CPC leaders conspire to depose Xi Jinping. It is remarkably disturbing, as it is openly attempting to manufacture consent for future destabilization of China.
Garside is the author of “China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom,” which was published in the University of California Press, with financial support from the Sue Tsao Endowment Fund in China Studies. According to the UCPress website, “Named Endowment Funds may be established with a gift of $50,000 or more”. The endowment fund is one which has a pattern of supporting books which push Taiwanese independence from China, and anti-communism in general.
Sue Tsao is a prominent philanthropist and an active figure in the Los Angeles arts community, with a mysterious past. All we know about her is that she is 71 years old, and came with her family from Taiwan in the 1970s to study, which was in the midst of a decades long military dictatorship after the Communist Party of China won the civil war in 1949. She popped up as co-owning a restaurant in LA during the mid 1980s and early 1990s, and then became a philanthropist in the late 1990s and early 2000s, continuing to this very day.
What Tsao was up to other than occasionally co-owning a restaurant? That’s the mystifying element: Tsao has been listed as playing a role in “business development” for DMG & Partners Securities PTE LTD, from December 4, 2012 on, then listed as playing some undefined role in Gainspan Corporation from March 27, 2014, Broidy Capital from August 13, 2014, Monster from February 6, 2015 and Stalwork Inc. from July 30, 2015. Since the page was deleted off of Zoominfo, the limited extent of information on Tsao’s corporate connections only go until 2012, and lack much information even then.
CTV News’ Christy Somos as a Yellow Peril 2.0 propagandist
A CTV News article released a day before the Globe & Mail published Garside’s op-ed calling for a coup in China, “Activists, experts and policy makers speak out on Chinese state influence in Canada” written up by Christy Somos, taps on the all the traditional tropes and supposed victims used in Cold War mythology. It begins by citing multiple officials from the intelligence community, including current and ex-CSIS officials, along with the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), who claim Canada is the target of “Chinese infiltration”.
Former CSIS intelligence officer is quoted in the article delivering an utterly disturbing sinophobic screed ratcheting up “Chinese infiltration” allegations:
“We see much more interference taking place, many more agents of influence have gained very strategic positions at all three levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal,” Juneau-Katsuya said. “When it comes to prosecution, one problem that exists is within our own system.”
Katsuya and others within the intelligence community have used the paranoia towards Russia and China to call for more inter-agency cooperation between the RCMP and CSIS, and to expand Canada’s National Security Law. There’s much irony in how it’s stated that Canada would be reasonable to do this, but China introducing a national security law in the Hong Kong SAR causes a non-partisan political meltdown within Canada.
Another source is Charles Burton, a senior fellow at the MacDonald-Laurier Institute and a supposed “expert” on Canada-China relations.
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute has a long history of sinophobic reports and imagery, including a 2020 report that called for China and Iran to be severely punished for allegedly covering up the original outbreak and failing to respond to COVID-19 in time, and a 2019 report which labeled Chinese president Xi Jinping as Canada’s top “policy maker of the year.” The accompanying image showcases Jinping is a spider wrapping Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a cocoon.
The MLI is also not transparent with its funding sources, and up to 80.5 per cent ($1,750,516 of the $2,173,110 in total 2018 revenue) of the MLI’s current funding could be coming from the Latvian Defence Ministry.
HK “Pro-democracy” activists as cover for sinophobia
The Hong Kong “pro-democracy” community in Canada also comes out in full force here, to serve as useful idiots for advancing a Yellow Peril 2.0 narrative. These activists, from the Canada Hong-Kong Link and Alliance Canada Hong Kong, claim to be victims of “silencing tactics and harassment” from “CCP agents” without any evidence, while claiming “‘large scale infiltration’ of Chinese state interests in Canada”… yet again with no evidence provided to back up their claims. Somos allows these activists to effectively justify rising Sinophobia in the name of having Hong Kong return to neo-colonial domination by the West.
But this is far from the first time Somos has worked with anti-China forces to spread Sinophobic claims of “Chinese infiltration” and “harassment from CCP agents”. Somos was the writer of another propaganda piece on the “pro-democracy” Hong Kong activists in Canada: “Hong Kongers say they’re being targeted by Chinese agents on Canadian soil”. It features numerous supposed sob stories of HK activists receiving threats from those evil “CCP agents”. Problem is, not one story from this dumpster fire of a supposedly unbiased article has any proof that their claimed interactions actually occurred. Examples have been highlighted below. It’s of note that neither the RCMP, CSIS or CSE have refused to support the claims of these activists.
That article spread the false claim that Chinese-Canadians and Chinese people within Canada can be presumed to be “CCP agents”. The article’s text states:
“The member specified that they did not suspect all of the pro-mainland rally goers of being CCP agents, but said there is an expectation for Chinese-Canadians to attend on behalf of the mainland’s interests.”
In the most recent article, Somos is continuing her proud habit of allowing blatantly sinophobic claims to be spread without evidence. She allows Executive Director of Community Family Services Ontario Anna V. Wong and Carolyn Bartholomew, chair of the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, to claim that Canada’s research institutions are also being “infiltrated by China.” Who needs any evidence when you want to spread smears about debunked genocide claims and societal infiltration of Canada, that lead directly to hate crimes against Asian Canadians, in the middle of Yellow Peril 2.0?
Intimidation and fearmongering around “infiltration” and the white supremacist logics of technology theft under the guise of “journalism” by the Globe & Mail led the University of Alberta to cut off future research ties with China.
Yet this type of attack is one that has not appeared out of nowhere. Chinese-Canadian institutions have been targeted for years, with little pushback from much of the Canadian left.
Attacks on Confucius Institutes
The presence of Confucius Institute(s) in the US, Canada around the world is a cultural exchange program which allows students to learn about Chinese culture, and offers training for Mandarin. These institutes were introduced at the request of foreign governments, whose educational institutes partnered with the Confucius Institute located in Beijing.
Confucius Institutes also come under attack in Somos’ evidence free hatchet job on China and any institutions connected to the country. The article contains the absolutely false claims that Confucius Institutes are “an extension of the propaganda wing of the CCP” and are used to “control Chinese students” and scholars.”
The CIs in Canada have been under attack from the state and intelligence community for years.
McMaster University had shuttered a Confucius Institute on campus in 2013, due to the institute’s refusal to allow Sonia Zhao, a former instructor, to practice Falun Gong, the spiritual discipline and anti-science cult which owns far-right outlet Epoch Times.
These attacks began in earnest in February 2013, when Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and National Defense Canada released a farcical report titled “the security dimensions of an influential China”, which attacked the institutes as a supposed tool of the Chinese government.
Back in 2014, CSIS visited a Confucius Institute located in Quebec’s Dawson College based on unsubstantiated allegations of the institutes being “used as spy satellite offices by China”.
In October 2014, the Toronto District School Board voted to end a partnership with the Confucius Institute, which had only been signed in April of this year. This came after a campaign to demonize the institute, which led to a protest in front of TDSB offices in May 2014.
Coquitlam School District Confucius Institute seems to have been shut down in 2016. British Columbia Institute of Technology CI seems to have been shut down in 2019, after a sinophobic Vancover Sun columnist contacted the school about the CI. Brock University CI winded up operations in May 2020.
Cardy targets the CIs
Former National Democratic Institute regime change operative and NDP provincial leader in New Brunswick from 2011 to 2017, Domenic Cardy, was at the centre of the demonization of this institution in Canada. Cardy worked for years during the 2000s in Nepal to prevent democratic elections which would’ve seen Maoists take power.
When this failed, the NDI and Cardy fearmongered about a “flawed election process”. They worked alongside political power figures to delay elections until 2008. The NDI was training local leaders, actively seeking to supress Maoist support in the hillsides, and pressuring mainstream political parties to join in a firm anti-Maoist election coalition. While the election drew nearer, the NDI continually worked to assist the other political parties.
After leading the NDP for years, Cardy switched parties, becoming the Conservative government’s education minister in 2018.
In early 2019, Cardy made his determination to get rid of the province’s Confucius Institutes clear, with CBC News quoting him as stating that these institutes are “Chinese propaganda that prevented discussion of topics that cast China in a bad light”. In August 2019, the plan to shut down the Confucius institutes was revealed.
The announcement stated that these institutes would not fully shut down, but would be cut down as much as possible within the limits of the contract with China. The program was scrapped in kindergarten to Grade 8, while CBC News revealed that “Mandarin language training, but not its offerings on Chinese culture, will continue as an elective subject at eight high schools until 2022.”
CSSA & the “Strategic Competition Act”
Only a month later, the McMaster Chinese Students & Scholars Association was the victim of rampant Sinophobia and the weaponized Uyghur dissident community in Canada. Unproven claims of collusion between the McMaster CSSA and the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, to disrupt “Uyghur rights” activist Rukiye Turdush’s talk in February 2019. Turdish works as a researcher at the Uyghur Researcher Institute, which has its main office located in Turkey. The URI is an affiliate of the NED backed regime change organization, World Uyghur Congress, which has received $1.2 million in funding since 2016 alone. URI’s president, Dr. Erkin Ekrem is the vice-president of the WUC.
The CSSA says that it mentioned the talk to the Chinese consulate only after the event.
These claims were enough to lead Student Representative Assembly member Simranjeet Singh to go on a rant in which he claimed that “the CSSA is just as — if not more — dangerous” than the Dominion Society, a group which has possible connections with white supremacist groups in Canada. Singh made the dangerous comparison of a Chinese-Canadian university group protesting smears against a country, to a group allegedly connected to white supremacy.
In September 2019, the McMaster university student union made that decision to decertify the university’s CSSA, and strip it of its official club status.
Things are likely to continue to get even worse if firm action is not taken. The US Senate passed the “Strategic Competition Act” which provides $300 million per year for anti-China media initiatives, in addition to the US government funded outlets Coda Story and Radio Free Asia. Writer Tom Fowdy described the initiatives as:
“an openly described effort to spread information on the “negative impact” of China’s $1 trillion-plus Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in participating countries, “anti-Chinese influence” programs, a scheme to “train journalists” with the goal of countering Beijing, and millions more in funding for Radio Free Asia to expand its coverage in the specified languages of Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan and Uighur.”
Meanwhile a prominent new Canadian media outlet, the Breach, has a columnist in Azeezah Kanji who works closely with NED funded Uyghur Rights Action Project, while Canadian Dimension recently released an article pushing the “Neither Beijing nor Washington” line, while Briarpatch recently released an “Anti-Campist” article which was determined to counter “state capitalist apologia” and demonize anyone who refuses to demonize China. Many in supposedly left-wing Canadian media outlets seem determined to make this American fund have no need to invest in Canada at all.
At a time when Sinophobia is rising, and smears against China continue to be pushed relentlessly, it is time for the Canadian left to stop being dupes for cold war propaganda. The time is now to break away from support of imperialism, once and for all. If things don’t change, many on the left will end up being key figures in manufacturing consent for a war on China.
Featured image: File Photo
Aidan Jonah is the Editor-in-Chief of The Canada Files, a socialist, anti-imperialist news site founded in 2019. He has written about Canadian imperialism, federal politics, and left-wing resistance to colonialism across the world. He is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at Ryerson University, who was the Head of Communications and Community Engagement for Etobicoke North NDP Candidate Naiima Farah in the 2019 Federal Election.