Congressman Michael Chong to testify in Washington about Chinese interference

Conservative Congressman Michael Chong, the target of an alleged foreign interference campaign by China, will tell his story Tuesday to lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Chong is scheduled to appear in Washington before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a bipartisan committee made up of U.S. senators, members of the House of Representatives and executive envoys.

Mr. Chong’s goal will be to make clear that his story “is just one case of transnational repression in the People’s Republic of China [et] that there are many, many other cases that go unnoticed,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“Foreign interference poses a serious threat to national security, not only for Canada, but also for other democracies. We need a series of measures to counter it, including closer cooperation between allied democracies,” argued the elected official.

Other witnesses scheduled to speak before the committee include Yana Gorokhovskaia, of the pro-democracy think tank Freedom House; Laura Harth, campaign director of the human rights group Safeguard Defenders; and Uighur activist Rushan Abbas.

Mr. Chong assured that he was not intimidated by the risk that his testimony on Tuesday could end up making him an even bigger target for Beijing, particularly in the United States.

“They target me because I am effective and I continue to speak, to give a voice to those who do not have one,” he said.

“There are people across the country who have been targeted for years, but whose stories are not told and who suffer in silence. This is what motivates me to continue,” he added.

Major issue

The commission was established in 2000 with the aim of keeping tabs on China’s long-maligned human rights record, fostering the development of the rule of law and cataloging its growing list of political prisoners. .

In Canada, as in the United States, it can be difficult to avoid the specter of partisan politics when talking about China and foreign policy, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global supply chains.

Virtually all U.S. domestic policy decisions are made in the broader context of ending dependence on Chinese suppliers of raw materials, manufactured goods, and high-tech components like computer chips and computers. minerals for batteries.

North of the border, where the federal government’s handling of allegations of Chinese foreign interference has sparked a whirlwind of controversy, a public inquiry is expected to begin early next week.

The allegations come from a series of articles in the Globe and Mail and Global News, which cited anonymous security sources saying Beijing attempted to interfere in the last two federal elections.

Officials say Canada maintained the overall integrity of its federal elections in 2019 and 2021, but opposition parties want clarity on how widespread the interference is and whether the government adequately protected Canadian democracy.

Not enough

The Liberal government, Mr. Chong said, is still not doing enough to properly strengthen its foreign policy approach to China, even as the United States and other democracies take a more hawkish stance.

“This does not surprise me, because I think it is a characteristic of the current government to be slow to implement,” said Mr. Chong. This government cannot act, so it does not surprise me that it is slow to react to this threat. »

Judge Marie-Josée Hogue, of the Quebec Court of Appeal, will direct the public inquiry which is expected to last 16 months. She is expected to look into allegations of interference in Canadian affairs by China, Russia and other foreign states and non-state actors. An interim report is expected at the end of February, followed by a final report in December 2024.

In May, the government confirmed that intelligence officials had detected a Chinese plot in 2021 to intimidate Mr. Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong. The Liberal government expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after a sustained outcry in Parliament.

In response, the Chinese embassy expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai and issued a statement accusing Canada of violating international law and acting on anti-China sentiment.

The alleged targeting of Mr Chong in 2021 came after he successfully sponsored a motion in the House of Commons calling Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in China a genocide. The MP says he was never informed of these threats, an error he described as “a systematic failure of the government apparatus”.

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