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HomeMiscellanyAnalysis: Facts or fearmongering? Richmond politician links racist graffiti, assaults to Second World War injustice

Analysis: Facts or fearmongering? Richmond politician links racist graffiti, assaults to Second World War injustice


Bob Mackin, with files from Ina Mitchell

They were supposed to be virtual meetings to discuss the possibility of a class action lawsuit against Global News and investigative reporter Sam Cooper for a story on the Chinese Communist Party’s manipulation of the world medical supplies market during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Richmond Coun. Chak Au on a May 10 virtual meeting about “opposition against Global News discrimination against Chinese,” hosted by Luxmore Realty.

The real estate executive who hosted on Zoom even suggested that money could be raised through crowdfunding, like he did at a café near Richmond’s River Rock Casino Resort.

But two of the featured speakers used their time to make comparisons to Second World War atrocities. 

In the May 10 meeting, Richmond Coun. Chak Au said that a crisis already exists around the question of “loyalty to Canada or China.” He made references to the internment of Japanese in British Columbia in the wake of the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour by Japan’s imperial air force. 

“Some are even the second and third generations, some are only part of the blood of some people, and the result is that all of them have been arrested, mainly because they have relations with some hostile countries to Canada,” Au said.

“From the perspective of the overall environment, I can see that China and the Western countries now have a very strong contradiction.”

In 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney apologized to Japanese-Canadians who survived the internment and provided $300 million compensation to them and their families.

In an interview, Au was reluctant to talk about what he said on the Zoom meeting, which was titled “Opposition against Global News discrimination against Chinese” and hosted by Luxmore Realty CEO and 1029 Café founder Jason Liu. Au denied involvement with the United Front Work Department (UFWD), the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign influence program.

CACA’s Yongtao Chen (second from right) with Chinese consul officials on Feb. 12 and PPE for export to China. (WeChat)

“I was just invited to the meeting, that’s it,” Au said. “I attend many types of meetings, I’m very concerned about the increase of racism in our community at this time, that’s all I’m concerned about.”

Au, an unsuccessful 2017 B.C. NDP candidate, co-founded the Stop Racism Alliance last year. He declined to comment on the Cooper story. 

“There are so many things we have to do, condemnation is only one aspect. We have to look at the law enforcement and other kinds of reform in the legal system. We need systematic change, we need some change in the way that those cases are being handled,” Au said.

On May 22, Vancouver Police said they have opened 29 investigative files about anti-Asian crimes in the city this year; there were only four during the same period last year. No one has been charged. 

UFWD is hostile to criticism of China’s human rights abuses and frequently uses media platforms protected by western free speech laws in order to highlight human rights issues elsewhere, so as to divert attention from contemporary problems in China. Despite state censorship, overwhelming proof has emerged from China about discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, jailing of journalists and whistleblowers, and the world’s most-advanced surveillance infrastructure. 

Cooper’s April 30 story, “United Front groups in Canada helped Beijing stockpile coronavirus safety supplies,” explained how the UFWD went on a global buying spree and exported 2.5 billion pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) from countries like Canada and Australia to China in just six weeks during the spread of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan. 

Doctors and nurses in Canada and elsewhere risked their health and struggled with PPE shortages as western governments scrambled to pay a premium to Chinese companies for tonnes of emergency shipments of masks, gloves, goggles and gowns. Some of the goods were too shoddy to be used by frontline healthcare workers. Cooper’s story quoted former Mexican diplomat Jorge Guajardo and Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole, a harsh critic of the CCP.

B.C. NDP trade minister George Chow (right) and Consul-Gen. Tong Xiaoling on April 24 (PRC) had previously reported on the United Front-allied Canadian Association of Chinese Associations and the Vancouver consulate organizing bulk PPE exports to China in January and February.

In late March, both the Chinese consulate and CACA switched gears and held photo ops to show they were importing PPE to B.C. for distribution to Chinese students and for donation to Metro Vancouver hospitals. The Provincial Health Services Authority has not disclosed how much of the donated supplies passed inspections and made it into the supplies for frontline workers.

A May 5 statement on the consulate’s website conflated Cooper’s story and incidents of anti-Asian racism in Vancouver. Chinese propaganda outlet Global Times carried the statement May 7, three days before the first Zoom meeting on May 10, which featured Au.

An accompanying online chat log during that meeting included Second World War historical references, such as:

  • “North American Japanese were greatly treated unfairly during World War II.” 
  • “This was Hitler’s way to discredit the Jews.”

Another user suggested establishing “a rights protection organization for Chinese people and fight for a long time.”

During the May 19 Zoom meeting, One Pacific News website publisher Ng Weng Hoong went one step further and said he is witnessing Sinophobia that reminds him of the 1960s in Malaysia.

Said Ng: “Trouble comes to the Chinese,” despite Chinese being generally well-educated, well-behaved and wealthy. He also said Chinese president Xi Jinping is doing today what Mao Zedong did in the 1960s: “exporting revolution.”

Ng Weng Hoong during a May 19 Zoom meeting.

“We are going to face the same problem the more China becomes very active on the world stage, so this is something that I have to tell you,” said Ng, who presented in English with a Mandarin translator. “I’m not being anti-China or anti-Chinese here, I’m just telling you as it is.”

Ng was briefly interrupted by a man who said, according to the Mandarin translator, “he didn’t want to listen to you.”

Ng also complained of “some journalists who are targeting the Chinese people,” and blaming Chinese for the high cost of housing, money laundering and casino crime. The only journalist he identified was Cooper.

“So the Chinese are a part of that problem, but the Chinese are not the main problem,” Ng said. “So that’s my campaign at the moment, I’d like for everyone to join me in pushing back against the people who are fanning the anti-Chinese sentiments in the city.”

Ng outlined his goal to force Global News to delete Cooper’s story, which he deemed “hate speech.” Ng’s first complaint letter to Global News was May 5, coincidentally, the same day that the consulate issued its statement. Ng denies any links to the Chinese government.

CLICK and LISTEN to a clip of Ng Weng Hoong

Ng was partly successful when Global News removed a graphic that he compared to a 1941 Nazi propaganda poster from German-occupied Serbia that depicted Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill as puppets operated by a smirking Jewish puppeteer.

A Vancouver writer compared a 1941 Nazi poster (lower right) to a Global News graphic. But is the correct comparison to the logo for The Godfather?

“When the Nazis under Hitler wanted to show how the Jews were controlling the world, they used that image of the puppet master to show that the Jews were controlling the world,” Ng said. “To me that is a very hateful image, Global News was using that on us. That to me is a hate speech.”

Ng made the leap to a Nazi comparison, when the hand and marionette sticks image used by Global News is actually more akin to S. Neil Fujita’s iconic design for The Godfather novel and movie poster. (Fujita, coincidentally, was interned in a Wyoming camp before volunteering for combat and translation roles in the U.S. Army during World War II.)

The puppet master character in the propaganda poster does not use the sticks, instead a string emerging from each finger to the puppets of Stalin and Churchill.

Fast forward to the 2019-2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, which is now battling against the Chinese Communist Party’s just announced move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. Passage by the National People’s Congress rubber stamp parliament is inevitable and it would end the one country, two systems semi-autonomy that Hong Kong has enjoyed since the 1997 handover from the United Kingdom to China.

Observers of protests in Hong Kong and in Vancouver over the last year have noticed marchers with signs calling Xi and the Communist Party the modern day equivalents of Hitler and the Nazis.

Opponents have even nicknamed China’s most powerful and ambitious president since Mao “Xitler” and his followers “Chinazis.”

Pro-Hong Kong protest in Richmond in October 2019 (Mackin)

Last fall, an international media consortium reported on a monumental leak of Chinese government documents about the mass-jailing of Uyghur Muslims. The reports quoted German anthropologist Adrian Zenz, who called what is happening in Xinjiang “the most systematic campaign of mass surveillance and mass oppression the world has ever seen”, including what is probably the “largest incarceration of an ethno-religious minority since the Holocaust.”

Meanwhile, also on the May 19 Zoom chat, a former Liberal Party of Canada candidate suggested another way to influence public opinion. A paid campaign.

Wendy Yuan, who unsuccessfully sought the Conservative nomination in Steveston-Richmond East last year, said in English that she had many supportive comments on her Facebook page from sympathetic readers concerned with anti-Asian racism. 

“The fact of the matter is there are lots of Caucasians who are willing to help us and to be our voice,” said Yuan, who is also a former aide to ex-BC Liberal premier Christy Clark. “For us to put an effective campaign against this hate crime, why don’t we start by recruiting some established business people who are financially sound who can, who are willing to help us to put up some money to actually pay some writers whose English is good. Those writers don’t have to be Chinese, they can be Caucasian.” 

CLICK and LISTEN to a clip of Wendy Yuan

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