Dozens of Canadian citizens are imprisoned in 'police state' China

While Canada has yet to arrest a single Chinese official with alleged ties to foreign intimidation campaigns, a new report showed 97 Canadian citizens are in the custody of the red dragon abroad. 

Dozens of Canadian citizens are imprisoned in 'police state' China
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While Canada has yet to arrest a single Chinese official with alleged ties to foreign intimidation campaigns, a new report showed 97 Canadian citizens are in the custody of the red dragon abroad. 

In an Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the House of Commons, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed Beijing has more Canadians in their custody than any other country outside the United States, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

"The data only represent information on cases that have been brought to the attention of the department," said the Inquiry. Worldwide 910 Canadians are in foreign custody, it added.

MPs at the Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations earlier expressed frustration with the lack of information on Canadians detained in the People’s Republic. "It shouldn’t take a crisis for people to get basic information," Conservative MP Dan Albas told a 2020 hearing.

Chinese authorities earlier described their country as safe and pleasant for Canadian visitors. "China is not a police state," Ambassador Cong Peiwu said in a 2021 speech at Memorial University. "It is nothing like that."

In a separate 2020 interview with the periodical Ottawa Life Magazine, the Ambassador said Canadians jailed in China did not receive "harsh treatment." He blamed the media for depicting China as a police state.

"Of course, if a very, very small number of people engage in those criminal activities, whether it’s Canadians or other nationalities, of course it’s quite reasonable and justified for us to take relevant measures," said Cong.

In June, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) concluded that foreign states are trying to influence Canadian society and democracy through espionage and online 'disinformation.' The cyber security body called out specifically China for its diaspora intimidation tactics.

"Authoritarian states use a variety of means to monitor and intimidate diaspora populations around the world, including in Canada. An example of this is the issue of the People’s Republic of China operating 'police service stations' in Canada," reads its 2022/23 Annual report.

Rather than targeting election infrastructure directly, cyber threat actors "favour manipulating the information environment," according to the CSE, calling it "less escalatory."

Ambassador Cong noted more than 200,000 Chinese students are studying in Canada, according to Blacklock’s Reporter

A Public Safety memo confirmed Chinese proxies harassed university students "to stifle criticism, infiltrate foreign political parties, diaspora communities, universities and multinational corporations." The Chinese embassy has repeatedly denied those claims.

On December 6, Rebel News asked CSE Chief Caroline Xavier if those threats emerged from 'police service stations' that operated in Canada. She did not confirm or deny their alleged threat to Canadians.

However, an RCMP spokesperson confirmed they "disrupted illegal activity" at these stations. 

"Generally, The RCMP will not comment on specific locations as investigations are ongoing," said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Kim Chamberland. "However, [we] can confirm that our national response has disrupted illegal activity."

China operated seven "overseas police service centres" in Canada that "harass" and "intimidate" persons of interest, including in Vancouver, the Greater Toronto Area and Montréal. As of writing, the RCMP has not arrested or revoked the diplomatic status of any Chinese official. 

Chamberland noted that while some of the activity under investigation occurred where other "legitimate services to the Chinese Canadian Community" are being offered, she articulated they will not tolerate any intimidation of diaspora communities or individuals in Canada.

"We are aware of two in Montreal, and work is being done to ensure they cease operating," Jody Thomas, the prime minister's national security and intelligence adviser, told the House Affairs Committee on June 1.

Alongside the Service à la Famille Chinoise du Grand Montréal (SFCGM), the RCMP investigated the Centre Sino-Québec over suspicions they front for China to identify, monitor, intimidate or silence critics of Beijing.

According to the SFCGM's financial records, Ottawa sent the charity $200,128 in taxpayer funds from 2020 through 2022 via the Canada Summer Jobs and New Horizons for Seniors programs.

Montreal's Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud received over $105,000 through six Canada Summer Jobs grants between 2016 and 2022. They also received about $53,000 from New Horizons for Seniors.

"The tools used by the RCMP to shut down the police stations, reduce their impact, reduce their credibility, is different in every situation, in every scenario," said Thomas. "There would be value in our ability to arrest people for them, and those investigations are underway by the RCMP," she added.

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