A Canadian minister has denounced China for “intimidation” of people around the world through Beijing’s state entities or proxies in order to silence dissent, pressure political opponents and instil general fear of state power.
In a letter to lawmakers, Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety responsible for the country’s internal security, said that “foreign states, including the PRC (Peoples Republic of China), attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals around the world, including in Canada, through various state entities and non-state proxies.”
That letter was sent in response to a motion moved by the Opposition calling for the government to outline its plans for participation of the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in Canada’s 5G infrastructure and to table a plan to counter foreign interference.
In the letter, as cited by the outlet National Observer, Blair added that the government is “aware that these tactics can also be used as cover for silencing dissent, including on university campuses, pressuring political opponents and instilling general fear of state power, no matter where a person is located.” He mentioned China’s Operation Fox Hunt as “one such example.”
Operation Fox Hunt was launched under the direction of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014 through the Ministry of Public Security to “target Chinese nationals who he sees as threats and who live outside China, around the world,” according to Christopher Wray, director of US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Citing Blair’s letter, the outlet Global News said the government was “’particularly concerned’ about giving foreign adversaries control over and access to sensitive technologies, critical infrastructure and the personal data of Canadians.”
Blair also noted that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Communications Security Establishment, and Canada Border Services Agency, were engaged in combating such foreign interference.
Such interference, the minister said, had worsened after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as government agencies had “observed state-sponsored information manipulation” with such “campaigns” aimed at sowing “doubt about the origins of the Covid-19 virus and the means required to counter it; discredit responses to Covid-19 while casting their own as superior.”
The motion is expected to come up for discussion in the House of Commons once it reconvenes later this month.
Earlier, according to a report in the daily Global & Mail, in the strongest public denunciation of China’s bullying of the community in Canada, a spokesperson for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had said that the “fear of state-backed or state-linked retribution targeting both them and their loved ones, in Canada and abroad, can force individuals to submit to foreign interference”. Together, Canada’s spy agency felt, such activities “constitute a threat to Canada’s sovereignty and to the safety of Canadians.”