China planted spies in Canadian Parliament
Justin Trudeau has accused China of playing “aggressive games” with Canadian democracy after it said Beijing planted spies in MPs’ offices.
Intelligence sources have warned that China has funded a “secret network” of candidates and parliamentary agents in Canada’s 2019 election to influence politics in China’s favor.
The allegations come days after federal police announced they were investigating the secret network Chinese “Overseas Police Stations” in Toronto, part of China’s efforts to secretly round up dissidents and criminals abroad.
“We have taken significant steps to strengthen the integrity of our election processes and our systems, and we will continue to invest in the fight against election interference, outside interference in our democracy and institutions,” Mr. Trudeau said Monday.
“Unfortunately, we see countries, state actors from all over the world, whether it’s China or others continuing to play aggressive games with our institutions, with our democracies,” he added.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said at a news conference on Tuesday that Canada “should stop making remarks that undermine China-Canada relations.”
“China is not interested in Canada’s internal affairs,” said spokesman Zhao Lijian.
“State-to-state relations should be built on mutual respect and mutual benefit, and China-Canada relations are no exception,” he added.
Beijing “directed funds to the candidates”.
Citing intelligence officials, local broadcaster Global News reported that Beijing had funneled funds to candidates, targeting members of both Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party and the opposition Conservative Party.
Chinese agents reportedly acted as campaign advisers to several candidates and attempted to “collaborate and corrupt” former Canadian officials to gain political influence in the capital.
In one case cited by Global News, funding of C$250,000 (£160,000) was channeled through the office of an Ontario provincial legislator.
It is unclear if the effort was successful. The operation was allegedly directed from the Chinese consulate in Toronto.
China ordered to shut down ‘policemen’
The bomb report comes after Canadian authorities said last month they were investigating “reports of criminal activity involving so-called ‘police stations’ controlled remotely by China, the type of which have also been reported in a number of European countries.
EU countries, including the Netherlands and Ireland, have already ordered China to shut down the stations, which were allegedly used to pressure critics of Beijing to return to China and face criminal charges.
At least 11 candidates have been endorsed by China in the 2019 federal election, officials reportedly told Mr. Trudeau.
In January, Canadian intelligence chiefs presented Mr. Trudeau and some of his cabinet ministers with a series of briefings and memos outlining the alleged network, including other detailed examples of Beijing’s efforts to further subvert the country’s democratic process, Global News reported.
In addition to deploying agents in the offices of MPs, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) reportedly linked the effort to payments made by intermediaries linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
CSIS believes Beijing’s intention was to mount aggressive campaigns to punish Canadian politicians it sees as a threat to its interests.
According to Global News, the national spy agency can capture its findings through warrants that allow electronic interception of communications between Chinese consulate officials and Canadian politicians and employees.
The newspaper said the sources agreed to release details from the report to give the Canadian public a clearer picture of the attacks on its democratic system. It said the sources remain anonymous “for fear of retribution”.
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