The president of a real estate firm that caters to wealthy buyers from China celebrated the defeat of a Conservative MP sanctioned by China’s Communist government.
The defiant commentary by Jason Liu of Luxmore Realty circulated on WeChat, the Beijing-monitored social media app, in the aftermath of Kenny Chiu losing his Steveston-Richmond seat to Liberal Parm Bains. Liberal Wilson Miao narrowly leads incumbent Conservative Alice Wong ahead of the mail-in ballot count.
“If you offend the Chinese, the whole group will be punished!” said an English translation of Liu’s commentary. “Richmond’s two Conservative seats were replaced by the Liberal Party, which was the result of the awakening of Chinese.”
As Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won another minority government, Chiu suffered a dramatic 29% loss of votes. In 2019, Hong Kong-born Chiu upset Liberal incumbent Joe Peschisolido by 17,748 votes to 14,731. But, on Sept. 20, Bains won 15,988 to 12,609.
In a Sept. 11 interview with theBreaker.news, Chiu conceded he was the target of a disinformation campaign on WeChat that wrongly branded him “anti-China” and falsely accused him of wanting to “suppress” Chinese in Canada. All because Chiu tabled a bill that would have brought Canada in line with other democracies by requiring anyone lobbying the federal government on behalf of a foreign entity to register.
In March, China sanctioned Chiu and fellow Conservative MP Michael Chong in retaliation for Canada sanctioning officials and entities involved in the House of Commons-declared genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Liu’s commentary, which was posted on former Chinese government lawyer Hong Guo’s WeChat channel, said that Chiu’s bill would have increased discrimination against Chinese-Canadians. He also called some Chinese “more anti-Chinese and support the extremist Conservative Party [more] than some white people.”
Ivy Li of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong said such inflammatory and divisive language is the hallmark of the Chinese Communist Party and a tactic of its United Front Work Department foreign influence program.
She said CCP sympathizers used disinformation to mobilize enough Chinese-Canadians to vote against Conservatives after opinion polls suggested Trudeau might be heading for a loss. They sent a message to politicians that “If you dare to do what Kenny Chiu did, then we will take you down.”
Li said voters originally from China who fled the dictatorship for a better life in Canada were “being misled into voting for something that was actually benefiting the interests of the very regime they’re trying to get away from.”
Li pointed to Liu’s specific mention of the “great role” played by Chinese Canadians Goto Vote Association [CCGVA], a group that portrayed itself as benign and non-partisan.
CCGVA campaigned at Richmond shopping and transit locations on Sept. 18 and the website sought to identify Chinese-speaking Canadian citizens eligible to vote.
“On the surface, they say that they are neutral, they are just wanting people to register,” Li said. “But once you look at who is organizing the local events, who is sponsoring it, they’re all the traditional, CCP-friendly clan associations.”
One of the sponsors, the Wenzhou Friendship Society, was investigated by the Richmond RCMP during the 2018 municipal elections for alleged vote buying via WeChat. No charges were recommended.
Li was intrigued that Ivan Pak founded CCGVA. The 2019 People’s Party of Canada candidate in Richmond Centre is still active in Maxime Bernier’s right-wing party. Pak incorporated the association in late August. He did not respond for a request for comment about the association’s fundraising activities and its collection and use of voters’ personal information.
In May 2020, Pak co-founded the Maple Leafs Anti-Racism Actions Association. MLARA threatened a lawsuit against Global News reporter Sam Cooper after a story about CCP groups in Canada shipping bulk masks and gloves to Chinese hospitals, while leaving Canadian doctors and nurses with scarce supplies during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pak remained involved with the PPC in 2021, signing the nomination papers of Richmond Centre candidate James Hinton and actively supporting Bernier on Twitter. Bernier’s campaign aimed to draw votes away from the Conservatives with a platform against vaccine mandates and mandatory masking.
PPC candidate Jennifer Singh’s 942 votes were not a factor in Steveston-Richmond East. But, as of Sept. 22, veteran Tory Wong trailed Grit Miao by 698 votes in a riding where the PPC’s fifth-place Hinton had 676.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s platform labelled the CCP a threat to Canada, promised to ban foreigners from buying Canadian real estate for two years, a crackdown on real estate money laundering and ban Huawei from Canada’s 5G network.
“Our quarrel is not with the people of China – part of an ancient civilization that has contributed much to humanity. We stand especially with Chinese Canadians whose contributions to Canada are immeasurable and who are enduring an appalling rise in anti-Asian hate and discrimination. And we stand with Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, Hong Kongers, and Chinese Christians.”
Canadian intelligence officials warned that China, along with Russia and Iran, pose threats to Canada. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank called the CCP’s United Front an “exportation of the CCP’s political system” that undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer.
On Sept. 21, the day after the election, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Trudeau. A White House readout called Canada “one of our nation’s top partners.”
Later, Biden met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and said that the U.S. “has no closer or more reliable ally than Australia.”
The cold shoulder to America’s closest neighbour came the week after Canada was left out of a new alliance between the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia aimed at countering the rise of Xi Jinping’s China.
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