Defeated Tory MP fears attacks by pro-Beijing forces may tip votes against him – .

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Defeated Tory MP fears attacks by pro-Beijing forces may tip votes against him – .


There was evidence that China’s attention turned during the election to the conservatives, whose platform described a multi-pronged approach to confront Beijing

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When Kenny Chiu introduced a private member’s bill that would establish a registry for agents of foreign governments, he may well have painted a target on his back.

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The bill was largely inspired by alleged Chinese interference in Canada and the BC Conservative said he was attacked about it in Chinese-language media throughout the election. .

Some of the bashing spilled over into mainstream social media, with a poster on Twitter this week saying “I’ve never seen a more hated Chinese in my life.”

Much of the criticism, Chiu says, has distorted what this legislation actually said, but it has had its effect.

Voters in his riding of Steveston-Richmond East, who had previously voted for Chiu, suddenly gave him shivers.

“When I go door to door… there have been supporters of mine who shut the door in my face,” the politician said. “There is so much hate that I smell. “

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And then, on Monday, Chiu lost to liberal Parm Bains by nearly 3,000 votes, just two years after his first election, even as the Liberals more or less duplicated their 2019 performance.

His defeat – and that of other Tory MPs in constituencies dominated by Chinese Canadians – raised questions whether the PR’s government officials were successful in influencing the election – as have the security agencies. and other watchdogs have warned this could happen.

Chiu points out that his problem is with the Chinese regime, but said online reviews implied that it meant he was opposed to the country itself and even race, despite his own Chinese heritage.

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He said Canadians of Chinese descent – even if they ended up disliking him – are themselves victims of such misinformation.

Charles Burton, a former diplomat in Beijing who is fluent in Mandarin, said he tried to help Chiu by tracking him down and warning him of disinformation on WeChat, the popular Chinese social media site, and elsewhere in line.

But it seemed like there was little they could do about it.

“It spread like cancer during his campaign,” said Burton, a Macdonald Laurier Institute fellow and leading Beijing critic. “He just saw his campaign crumble over the past two weeks. “

Burton said Canadian authorities should investigate the online campaigns to determine whether the Chinese government itself was behind the attacks.

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He is not the first to raise the question. David Vigneault, head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said in a February speech that attempts by foreign states to influence Canadian politics and politicians were among the agency’s “top concerns”.

Bains could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, and there is no indication that he had anything to do with the online sniper Chiu faced.

In fact, the liberals themselves have been the target of severe attacks from the Chinese government and state media as part of the ongoing feud over the arrest of Huawei leader Meng Wanzhou. .

It has spread like cancer on his campaign

But there was evidence that China’s attention turned during the election to the conservatives, whose platform described a multi-pronged approach to confront Beijing. This included banning Huawei from 5G networks, imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions on Chinese rights violators, and advising universities not to partner with state-owned companies.

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The liberal platform made a brief mention of measures to tackle “illegal and unacceptable behavior by authoritarian states,” targeting China, Iran and Russia.

In what appeared to be a commentary on the conservative project, Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu told the Hill Times newspaper in August that China opposes politicians who “hype” or “defame” the country. Just a week before election day, the Communist Party of China-led Global Times published an article denouncing the policies of the conservatives, predicting that if the party was elected, China would launch a “vigorous counterattack” against the party. Canada.

Michael Chan, a former Ontario Liberal minister who spoke up for Beijing, wrote in a recent column in Chinese that the implementation of conservative policies could spark hatred and discrimination against the Chinese.

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It is impossible at this point to determine what factors caused results in individual constituencies, but Chiu was not the only conservative incumbent to be defeated in seats with large Chinese-Canadian populations, people exposed to such media. ethnic Chinese.

Although not all votes were counted on Tuesday, Alice Wong appeared to be heading for defeat in Richmond Center, next to Chiu’s constituency, despite having held the seat in four previous elections.

Bob Saroya lost the Toronto-area riding of Markham-Unionville, where nearly two-thirds of residents are of Chinese descent, to Liberal Paul Chiang after winning the previous two elections.

They have chat rooms and discussion groups dedicated to the overthrow of Kenny Chiu

Chiu, from Hong Kong, says he has never shied away from expressing his dislike of the Communist government in Beijing. But last April, he introduced a private member’s bill that would require any foreign government official to register with Ottawa and report on their activities. It is based on similar legislation in Australia and a law that has been in effect in the United States for several decades.

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Local Chinese-language media ignored the bill when it was introduced, but as the election campaign turned into a stalemate between liberals and conservatives, “attacks fell on me,” he said. declared the former deputy.

An article posted anonymously on WeChat, and which later appeared on various other online platforms, suggested that it was designed to “remove” the Chinese community and that anyone connected to China should register.

A similar story on a Chinese-language site called Today Commercial News said it would limit the Chinese community’s freedom of speech and have a “profound impact” on Canadians of Chinese descent.

In fact, the legislation would only require registration of those acting on behalf of foreign governments or political groups that lobby a senior official or elected politician. He has in fact been criticized for his too narrow focus.

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Other posts on WeChat incorrectly suggested that the Tories had offered to ban the widely used social media site itself.

“It’s very organized,” Chiu said. “They have chat rooms and discussion groups dedicated to the overthrow of Kenny Chiu. “

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Chinese Benevolent Association, a group that has repeatedly aired ads supporting Beijing on controversial issues like Hong Kong’s National Security Law, hosted a free lunch on behalf of the liberal candidate in the riding of Vancouver East.

New Democrat Jenny Kwan still managed to win the seat with flying colors.

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