The NDP’s Minister of State for Trade continues to enjoy Premier John Horgan’s full support, despite questions about George Chow’s links to allies of China’s government.
A campaign by a coalition of pro-Hong Kong, Uyghur and Tibetan groups against Chinese Communist Party infiltration of B.C. politics, called #NoBCforXi, considers Vancouver-Fraserview incumbent Chow to be “CCP leaning.”
Chow is a frequent attendee of People’s Republic of China consulate events and has used taxpayers’ money to advertise in newspapers friendly with the CCP’s United Front Work Department foreign influence program.
“George Chow supports the BC NDP, George Chow supports the constituents of Vancouver-Fraserview,” Horgan said during an Oct. 16 campaign stop in Pitt Meadows. “I’m glad to have him on the team. He’s made sacrifices and contributions for people of B.C. for a long time, and I stand by George under all circumstances. With respect to advertising in newspapers, this is news to me, I’ll have a look at it and perhaps I’ll get back to you.”
Chow did not respond to repeated interview requests from theBreaker.news.
Jody Chan, a volunteer with #NoBCforXi, said Chow has not responded to the questionnaire sent to election candidates across the province. Chow’s ranking is based on objective research, she said.
“George’s past record is quite alarming to us, in terms of how many times he’s met with PRC officials,” Chan said. “A lot of his actions don’t seem like he’s naive to what the CCP is doing. Our community is quite scared of the fact that our elected officials are in any way influenced by the CCP.”
Chow’s first, full calendar year in office was heavy on engagement with Chinese government officials. He traveled on the Horgan-led trade mission to China in January 2018, appeared at a May 2018 Guangdong business convention attended by United Front vice-minister Su Bo, and welcomed Wang Chen, from President Xi Jinping’s Politburo, during a June 2018 visit to Vancouver.
Chow met in Guangdong with CCP officials in December 2018, almost a week after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on behalf of the U.S., which later charged Meng with fraud.
During a meeting with the Guangzhou Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Chow was photographed in a boardroom where both the CCP flag and national flag were displayed. Chow’s hosts briefed him on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Belt and Road infrastructure program. Chow briefed the officials about B.C.’s plans for a Canadian Chinese history museum.
A spokesman for Chow said at the time that his trip was “personal.”
In July 2019, Chow was photographed with People’s Liberation Army veteran Tiger Yuan at a festival in Burnaby and sported the Chinese government’s official pin for the 70th anniversary of CCP rule during Vancouver events in fall 2019.
One was a gala banquet that Horgan and other politicians skipped because China took Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor hostage in retaliation for the arrest of Meng. Chow declined to answer questions from theBreaker.news both before and after the gala at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Chow has also supported pro-CCP media outlets with taxpayers’ funds.
Legislative Assembly receipts show payments to Dawa Business Group Inc. ($735 on Feb. 5, 2020), Global Chinese Press ($787.50 x 2 on Jan. 31, 2020) and $38 for the Chinese Benevolent Association’s Sept. 22, 2019 banquet celebrating 70 years of the PRC.
“Our governments should be defending our democracy, human rights and Canadian values,” said Ivy Li of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. “For the NDP government to place advertisements in those obviously pro-CCP media is a real mocking of British Columbians’ beliefs of free speech and freedom of press. It is a slap on our face.”
China-born Chow had a 30-year career at BC Hydro and is a former president of the pro-Beijing Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver. He served two terms on the Vision Vancouver city council majority from 2005 to 2011.
Chow’s 2017 political comeback as an NDP MLA ended BC Liberal Attorney General Suzanne Anton’s term in the South Vancouver riding. He is facing a challenge on Oct. 24 from David Grewal, a BC Liberal candidate who ran for city council with the NPA in 2018.
However, Chow does not live in the riding he represents. Instead, he is the resident of a $3.725 million-assessed house in the Fairview riding. Chow’s house [which hit a peak $5.08 million value in 2017] is 1.5 kilometres from the Chinese consulate mansion. That is where Chow appeared last April to receive a shipment of masks donated to B.C. by the Guangdong government.
An Australian think tank report, called The Party Speaks For You: Foreign Interference and the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front System, describes how United Front affiliates in several western countries, including Canada, hoarded PPE for export to China early this year and later donated supplies to promote the CCP’s pandemic narratives.
“The United Front system’s reach beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China—such as into foreign political parties, diaspora communities and multinational corporations—is an exportation of the CCP’s political system,” said the report by Alex Joske. “This undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer.”
In 2010, then-Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden warned that China was influencing unidentified B.C. municipal politicians and cabinet ministers in at least two provinces.
Horgan said he condemns human rights abuses anywhere in the world. He said he was aware of the #NoBCforXi campaign, but had yet to respond. “I will take a look at it and ask staff where my response is, and will work on that,” Horgan said.
“I’m focussed on getting us all safely through the pandemic. That’s not to say we turn a blind eye to abuses in any corner of the world. Largely a federal responsibility, as you know, but I believe leaders have a responsibility to speak up when these issues arise.”
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