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Canada needs to take Chinese threat seriously

Canadians must understand Chinese actions threaten our democratic institutions, economic independence, national security and, yes, our way of life.

By Jaime Watt - Contributing Columnist

February 26, 2023

This past week, disturbing revelations were made painstakingly clear to Canadians: the People’s Republic of China and its intelligence apparatus threaten our nation’s security and our democracy.

On the evidence, the authoritarian dictatorship in Beijing has interfered in our elections to the benefit of Trudeau’s Liberals and the detriment of Canada’s democratic foundations. While their tactics demonstrate a blatant disrespect for our way of life, they also show our inability to respond effectively.

Having engaged in diplomatic gaslighting, they are now laughing at us from behind the protected walls of the Politburo in Beijing.

It should not take a front-page exposé for Canadians to understand that the actions of the Chinese government threaten our democratic institutions, economic independence, national security and, yes, our way of life.

It is time that we understand our politicians have proven incapable of addressing Chinese state influence. Chinese aren’t just at our gates, they own them. And they’re standing idly by flipping us the bird.

Currently led by an aggressive, ambitious, and paranoid government, China exhibits all the characteristics of a hostile state. The détente that followed Chairman Mao’s rule lulled many Westerners into a false sense of security but under Xi, China is once again under the thumb of an ideological despot with, given the situation with Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, even more capacity to throw his weight around on the world stage.

Just this past week, the Globe and Mail reported news from CSIS that Canadian politicians, government officials, business executives and Chinese Canadians all have been prime targets of Chinese government espionage.

This espionage has deployed blackmail, bribery, and sexual seduction. The range and nature of the tactics used are usually reserved for spy novels, but national security experts now deem China’s espionage infrastructure to go far deeper than even the Soviet’s efforts at the height of the Cold War.

Spying has become a pillar of Chinese statecraft and thuggery, accompanied by denial and obfuscation, a hallmark of its government.

So, what’s the objective of this brazen approach given that it risks further alienating China from the international community — especially when it needs to make friends to increase trade and boost economic activity after its crippling pandemic lockdowns?

Clearly, it is to obtain political, economic, scientific, and military intelligence from Canada so they can stifle Canadian critics and hamper our own economic and political clout.

Just like a domestic abuser, China slaps our face with one hand then wraps an embracing arm around our shoulder with the other to comfort us when it wants something.

Sadly, these revelations were just the most recent development in an enduring crisis.

After all, Canada and the United States are still unpacking the implications of the Chinese spy balloon incident. And there is, of course, more.

Only a few months ago, Western media outlets and governments were seized with news that China was operating covert police stations abroad and that their consulates were developing suspicious relationships with domestic politicians. Who can forget the Chinese state’s kidnapping and arbitrary imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig?

For the past two decades, China has built up an impressive portfolio of assets in Canada’s critical minerals and mining sector, real estate, and oil and gas. Trade with China remains a lucrative proposition — in 2021 alone, two-way trade between our nations totalled $94.7 billion.

It is, after all, the world’s second-largest economy. But, as Canadians, we must ask ourselves, has it been worth it?

All of that said, we cannot allow the actions of the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the integral role the over 1.8 million Chinese Canadians have played, and continue to play, in shaping our country. We are a better country because of their endless contributions.

Canada stands up to bullies, and China’s actions disrespect the soul of our nation. The prime minister’s response has been watery and self-effacing. Economic factors be what they may, now is the time to say enough is enough.


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