The United States and Canada should cooperate more closely on taking legislative action and exposing Chinese interference in order to reduce the Beijing regime’s threat, Conservative MP Michael Chong told a U.S. commission.
Mr. Chong, who’s been personally affected by Beijing’s attempts to meddle in Canadian politics, was in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12 to testify before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
The long-serving MP told U.S. House representatives, senators, and administration officials about his personal experience and provided an overview of the different ways the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tries to interfere in Canada, such as running illegal police stations, using Chinese international students for repression, and the dissemination of propaganda through the media.
“These tactics cannot be tolerated in a free and sovereign country. Canada must work more closely with democratic allies like the United States in countering Beijing’s efforts to interfere in our democratic life,” Mr. Chong said.
Commission Chairman Chris Smith, a Republican congressman, asked Mr. Chong if he believes cooperation between the U.S. and Canada is “as robust as it should be” and where it could be improved.
Mr. Chong said that since the U.S. has implemented a foreign agent registry, it could be possible to share information on what legislative models work best, as well as the ones that don’t.
Under pressure following multiple national security leaks in the press on Beijing interference, the Liberal government announced back in March it would start consultations on the implementation of a foreign influence registry. No timetable has been presented on when the legislation will be tabled.
Mr. Chong said another area where the U.S. and Canada can cooperate is to determine best practices using “sunlight and transparency” to expose foreign interference that doesn’t raise the threshold of criminal prosecution.
“One way to counter it is to make it public and to go public with the intelligence to tell members of the public, members of Congress, members of Parliament, here’s what exactly is going on, to arm citizens and elected officials with the information they need to protect themselves,” he said.
Mr. Chong testified before the Commission for a hearing on countering Beijing’s global transnational repression campaign.
“My friends, the Chinese Communist Party has waged a pervasive coercive campaign around the world against anyone who does not agree with the party,” Rep. Smith said in opening remarks.
“They target Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, dissidents, activists, students, journalists, or anyone who dares to state their unapproved opinions about the People’s Republic of China.”
Mr. Chong was targeted by the regime because of his advocacy for human rights in China. He sponsored the House of Commons motion declaring the CCP’s treatment of Uyghurs a genocide in February 2021.
Through national security leaks published earlier this year, it was revealed that Mr. Chong and other MPs’ advocacy had caught Beijing’s attention.
The Globe and Mail reported on May 1 that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had produced an intelligence assessment indicating that Canadian MPs were being targeted by Beijing for their anti-regime stance. A source told the Globe Mr. Chong was one of them.
It was then revealed in the following days that no relevant minister was aware of this information.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially said CSIS chose not to alert the government about the issue and that he had learned about it from the media.
The CSIS assessment had actually been shared with relevant departments and ministers, including Mr. Trudeau’s National Security and Intelligence Advisor. David Morrison, now the deputy minister of foreign affairs, occupied that position at the time.
Former special rapporteur David Johnston addressed the communication issue in his report tabled in late May.