A statement released by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) on August 9 has revealed that the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism Canada detected a foreign interference operation which targeted Conservative member of Parliament Michael Chong.
The “smear campaign,” the statement outlines, was launched through the Chinese application WeChat between May 4 and 13, and was conducted in coordination with the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat from Canada after the Chinese Communist Party official was accused of threatening Chong’s relatives in Hong Kong. The declaration of Zhao Wei as persona non grata on May 8 prompted a swift and stern condemnation from the Chinese embassy, with a promise of retaliatory measures.
“China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately stop this self-directed political farce, not go further down the wrong and dangerous path. Should the Canadian side continue to make provocations, China will play along every step of the way until the very end,” the statement read.
Unlike a previous campaign against Chong, this one didn’t threaten his family, but rather “amplified a large volume of false or misleading narratives” about the Conservative MP, which focused on spreading rumours “about his identity.”
GAC noted it was “highly probable” that the disinformation operation was orchestrated by China, given the coordinated timing and content of the social media posts. Approximately one third of the network included “known state media outlets” linked to the Chinese Communist Party, but details of the state entities were not disclosed.
One WeChat account caught disseminating propaganda discovered by Rebel News was a media outlet called “Global People”. Global People Magazine ( 环球人物) is a publication put out by the People’s Daily Press (人民日报) — the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
“It’s the anti-China Pioneer Again,” reads the title of Global People’s column, referring of course to Michael Chong.
The article strongly criticizes Chong’s firm stance on matters such as banning Huawei 5G, boycotting the Beijing Olympics, and his motion to declare the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang a genocide. The author is also rather quick to defend the Liberal Party of Canada, claiming that Chong’s concerns about state-sanctioned attacks and the concealment of those by the federal government “couldn’t be further from the truth.”
People’s Daily has been officially designated as a foreign mission by the U.S. State Department, meeting the definition of a “foreign mission” under the Foreign Missions Act, which is to say it is “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by a foreign government.
“They are effectively controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China,” declares the press statement.
The Rapid Response Mechanism was evidently activated, and Global Affairs Canada became aware of the new action against Chong when they stumbled upon it while monitoring posts during spring by-elections as an ongoing initiative to detect foreign interference.