Anti-China motion in the House of Commons: ‘Yellow Peril’ hysteria all over again

The House of Commons is addressing a motion that exudes hostility towards the People’s Republic of China. It is, again, the racist, colonialist approach which, at the turn of the 20th century, accused people from Asia of constituting a “Yellow Peril.” | PAULINE EASTON

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This is a despicable racist and xenophobic image published by Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc., depicting Chinese Canadians as puppets who are secretly infiltrating Canadian society: “The UFWD (United Front Work Department) attempts to utilize Chinese diaspora groups for Beijing’s strategic policies, CSIS says.” Sam Cooper, April 30, 2020

The House of Commons is addressing a motion that exudes hostility towards the People’s Republic of China. The cartel parties are espousing the ill-advised cause of opposing alleged Chinese attempts to undermine Canada’s “democratic institutions.” In the name of “eliminating foreign interference in Canada’s political process” the resolution will criminalize Canadians and permanent residents of Chinese national origin and generally foment a hysterical racist anti-Chinese climate. It is, again, the racist, colonialist approach which, at the turn of the 20th century, accused people from Asia of constituting a “Yellow Peril.” A dictionary definition describes “Yellow Peril” as the power or alleged power of Asiatic peoples “to threaten or destroy the supremacy of White or Western civilization.”[1]

According to Wikipedia it is “a colour-metaphor that represents the peoples of East Asia as an existential danger to the Western world.”[2]

The motion also deserves the attention of Canadians for its insidious modus operandi. The right of citizens and residents to express their opinion on international affairs is being turned into a matter of people being “dupes for a foreign power.” The international practice – and right – of countries to promote their economic interests, as Canada does all over the world, is considered proper for Canada and the U.S. but not for China. In the name of national security, when Canada, the U.S., and the other countries of the “Five Eyes” intelligence agencies can empower corporations such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and others to comply with surveillance of citizens it is considered democratic, but if China does it, it is considered dictatorial. Similarly, the domination of the cartel parties, all of which serve the international financial oligarchy, over governance in Canada is considered democratic, while the domination of the Communist Party of China over governance in China is considered a dictatorship.

The power of the private interests dominates this discourse, used to determine Canada’s national interest. These private interests have taken over the U.S. state, to which they have subordinated the Canadian state. They use their apparatus of disinformation and budgets to put the full weight of their states behind wiping out their competition. The peoples of the countries which comprise the imperialist system of states are supposed to take sides.

According to David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), “As the world becomes smaller and more competitive, nation states are naturally seeking every advantage to position themselves as leaders in a lucrative global economy. As a result of this competitive thirst, hostile state actors seek to leverage all elements of state power to advance their national interests. This threat represents the greatest danger to Canada’s national security and can have a tremendous impact on our economic growth, ability to innovate, sovereignty and national interest. That is why CSIS is now routinely engaging with a variety of stakeholders across the Government of Canada and the private and research sectors, to learn from and advise on the nature of potential threats so that they are better prepared and can protect their important work.”[3]

This candid admission that Canada’s “national interests” are served by the security services advancing the interests of the financial and economic oligarchs in their rivalries to dominate markets and spheres of influence confirms the extent to which they themselves are providing justification “to leverage all elements of state power” to the advantage of their side of the “competitive thirst.” It confirms the profound danger posed to the peoples. According to their modus operandi, this rivalry can only lead to aggression, war and interference abroad, while suppressing the movements of the people at home and abroad. The peoples are fighting for a new world where economies are organized to fulfill the needs of the people, and international relations, including trade, are based on mutual benefit and conflicting interests are resolved peacefully.

Vigneault praises the Government for passing the National Security Act, 2017 which received Royal Assent in June 2019. This Act was broadly opposed by Canadians when it was first introduced by the Harper government and then adopted by the Trudeau government with fraudulent amendments to make it appear that rights were being protected. Vigneault says that while the new police powers have provided “some new modern authorities, there is still work to be done.” More explicitly, he calls for increased police powers, stating that “the threat environment we face today and in the future requires further reflection to ensure that we have the tools required of a modern intelligence agency.”

One of the examples of “threat environment today” the security establishment is promoting as hysterically as it possibly can, is alleged interference in delivery of COVID vaccines.[4]

Of note is the dominant role in decision-making given to the so-called Five Eyes intelligence agencies which, by definition, are covert. They march to their own tune without the citizenry ever being privy to what they do and how. The decision-makers in government also march to their tune.

Imposing conceptions of security, peace and democracy dragged out of the Cold War period merely underscores the fact that what they mean is self-serving. The interests they serve and those who serve these interests do not recognize, let alone represent, the members of the polity whose voices are not heard; nay more, whose voices are missing altogether in what is called the discussion.

All of the parties in the House of Commons are in cahoots with the motion. They have been bickering over minor details related to it, such as whether or not it should be adopted before it is reviewed by the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, itself an instrument for anti-China propaganda whose aim is to hide how desperate they are to wipe out China as a competitor.[5]

Notes

1. Collins Dictionary.

2. The term “Yellow Peril” was coined in Europe following Japan’s military defeat of China in 1895 and was initially applied to Japan to create fear of invasion from rising powers in East Asia.

The fear of invasion continued into the 20th century and was bolstered by various racist portrayals of “sinister Orientals” in books and films. Prominent amongst these was the English writer Sax Rohmer’s creation, the insidious and diabolical genius Dr. Fu Manchu.

By the outbreak of WWI, the lack of any actual invasion usage of the term “Yellow Peril” began to fade, although in practice, fearmongering about China and immigrants from East Asia continued, couched in other derogatory terms, in support of racist immigration policies at home and imperialist aggression abroad.

3. CSIS Public Report 2019, “Our Vision: A Safe, Secure and Prosperous Canada through Trusted Intelligence and Advance,” May 2020.

4. “CSIS warns of threats to vaccine distribution chain,” Catharine Tunney, CBC News, December 17, 2020.

5. According to its website, the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations says its mandate is “to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship, including, but not limited to, consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations.” Its website further states: ”The ties between Canada and Hong Kong are long standing and well known, notably due to the many Canadian soldiers who participated and lost their lives in the war effort to prevent the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. Today, an estimated 300,000 Canadians live in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong’s freedoms and high degree of autonomy were enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty registered with the United Nations. As the Special Committee has been told, the international community was asked to support the ‘one country, two systems’ framework and cooperate toward its successful implementation. The Special Committee notes that, while the framework is obliged to endure until 2047, serious questions have been raised by the National Security Law that was enacted on June 30, 2020. Furthermore, the Special Committee reiterates that the freedoms enshrined in the Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law, including freedom of expression and assembly, are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which applies in Hong Kong.”

Individuals and organizations that have appeared before the committee this year include the following:

December 8, 2020 (Meeting 12)

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

– Shawn Steil, Executive Director, Greater China Policy and Coordination

Embassy of Canada to the People’s Republic of China

– Dominic Barton, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to the People’s Republic of China

November 24, 2020 (Meeting 8)

As an individual

– Hon. John McCallum, Former Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China
- Robert Wright, Former Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China

November 23, 2020 (Meeting 7)

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

– Marta Morgan, Deputy Minister, Foreign Affairs

– Weldon Epp, Director General, North Asia and Oceania Bureau

House of Commons

– Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs

November 17, 2020 (Meeting 6)

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

– Shawn Steil, Executive Director, Greater China Policy and Coordination

November 16, 2020 (Meeting 5)

Department of Citizenship and Immigration

– Natasha Kim, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy

– Dr. Nicole Giles, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations

House of Commons

– Hon. Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

November 9, 2020 (Meeting 4)

As an individual

– Bill Chu, Founder, Canadians for Reconciliation

– Steve Tsang, Director, SOAS China Institute, University of London

– Victor Ho, Retired Editor-in-Chief, Sing Tao Daily, British Columbia Edition

National Democratic Institute

– Adam Nelson, Senior Advisor for Asia-Pacific

Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement

– Mabel Tung, Chair

November 2, 2020 (Meeting 3)

Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao

– Jeff Nankivell, Consul General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao, Global Affairs Canada

October 26, 2020 (Meeting 2)

As an individual

– Angela Gui

– Nathan Law, Hong Kong Activist, Former Legislator 

For Your Information

Anti-China Motion

The anti-China motion was introduced in the House on November 17 by Conservative MP Michael Chong. Both the resolution and the discussion underscore the refusal to sort out problems in international relations peacefully and instead turn them into a matter of factional fighting, promotion of business interests and a hysterical anti-China stance. It reads:

“Given that (i) the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is threatening Canada’s national interest and its values, including Canadians of Chinese origin within Canada’s borders, (ii) it is essential that Canada have a strong and principled foreign policy backed by action in concert with its allies, the House call upon the government to: (a) make a decision on Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion; and (b) develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China’s growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.

Speaking to the resolution Chong said  that while the Liberal government “has logged a number of foreign policy accomplishments” such as renegotiating the free trade agreement with the U.S. overall, “foreign policy has been a disappointment.” He said:

It is on China that the Liberal government has been the biggest disappointment. China is not upholding its responsibility to the rules-based international system. It is ignoring its condition of entry into the WTO. It is manipulating its currency using state-owned enterprises to interfere in other country’s economies, infringing on international property and violating international law in its treatment of Canadians Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor, Robert Schellenberg and Huseyin Celil. It violates international law in its treatment of the people of Hong Kong and in its treatment of religious and ethnic minorities, such as the Tibetans and the Uighurs in China. In short, China is threatening our interests and our values. In that context, it is really important that the Government of Canada speak with a clear, consistent and coherent voice. Unfortunately, that is not happening. In January of last year, the Prime Minister said he was not going to intervene in the judicial proceeding concerning Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. The same week, former Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, said that the government should intervene and trade Meng Wanzhou for Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. This inconsistency and incoherence have continued into this year. In July, the foreign minister told the House that he is looking into putting sanctions on Chinese officials for their actions with respect to Hong Kong. The very next day the government told Reuters that this was off the table. In September, the foreign minister told The Globe and Mail that the pursuit of free trade with China was being abandoned, and on the same day, Ambassador Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, was in Edmonton telling an audience, which included the Chinese ambassador to Canada, that Canada should do more in China and expand trade with China.

These are just a few of the many, many examples.

The government itself acknowledges implicitly that its China policy is not working. It has acknowledged it by its recent change in rhetoric on China this fall, and it has acknowledged it by its announcement that it plans to come forward with a new framework on China this fall, by December 24. That is why I have introduced this motion today.”

Any new framework on China must include two elements.

First, it must include a decision on Huawei. In May of last year, the government said it would make a decision on Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network before the 2019 election. That July it changed its mind and said it would make a decision after the 2019 election. It has now been more than a year since the last election, and there still has been no decision. It has been years since the government first started deliberating on this decision. The consequence of these years of delay and indecision on the part of the government is threatening Canada’s national security. Because of the government’s delays on this file, Telus, a major Canadian telecommunications company, went ahead and purchased Huawei’s equipment for its network. It installed it in the national capital region, where most of Canada’s federal government offices are, including the RCMP, CSIS, the Department of National Defence and other military installations, despite having reached an agreement with the federal government not to use Huawei’s equipment in the region. Reports now indicate the federal government is scrambling to get Telus to remove its equipment, which has now been installed on some 80 towers and sites in the national capital region. Under article 7 of China’s national intelligence law, Huawei must support, assist and co-operate with China’s intelligence activities.

The government’s lack of action on Huawei demonstrates something else: the yawning gap between its rhetoric and reality. The government said it believes in multilateralism, but when given the opportunity fails to act. Huawei is a good case in point. Four of the Five Eyes intelligence partners, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, have banned or put restrictions on Huawei’s involvement in their networks. Canada is unilaterally alone in failing to take action.

It is long past time for the government to make a decision on Huawei. No framework on China is complete without it. Any new framework on China must also include a robust plan to counter China’s subversive operations here in Canada. China, through its agents and foreign operations here on our soil, is threatening our national interests and values. It is intimidating Canadians, particularly Canadians of Chinese origin. It is spying on and cyber-attacking our citizens, companies and the federal government itself. It is spreading disinformation. It is engaging in elite capture: the provision of monetary inducements, in sinecure, to retired bureaucrats and retired politicians. It is providing financial support for research institutes that support Beijing’s positions, such as the Confucius Institute. It is co-opting Chinese language media and local organizations on the ground to promote Beijing’s interests. It is surveilling and organizing Chinese foreign students at Canadian universities to stifle on-campus debate and threaten others, as it has done at the University of Toronto and McMaster University. It is interfering in the Chinese community by mobilizing political support against those who do not support Beijing.

There are countless examples of China’s influence operations here in Canada documented by CSIS, the RCMP, Amnesty International and the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations of the House. Any new framework on China must include a plan that does more to protect Canadians from China’s foreign influence operations here in Canada as our allies, such as Australia, have already done.

The government came to office talking about responsible conviction. That was jettisoned for Canada being an essential country. We now get a new framework on China. Any new framework must include a decision on Huawei and a robust plan to protect Canadian citizens and interests from China’s subversive foreign influence operations here on Canadian soil.

I have a final point on the timing in the motion. The motion calls on the government to make these two decisions within 30 days. The government has announced for months that it is coming forward with a new framework on China by the end of this fall, which ends on December 21, so the timing of the motion’s provisions is very reasonable. That is why I have introduced this motion. I hope members will support it.”

Speaking for the Bloc Québécois, Luc Desilets (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, BQ) said his party agrees, and only has some concerns about the time.

“Why not wait until the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, which the Conservatives themselves asked for, releases its findings?” Desilets said.

Speaking for the NDP, Gord Johns (Courtenay–Alberni, NDP) thanked Chong for the motion and asked:

“I want to ask my colleague if he believes that Canada needs to bring in legislation to combat foreign interference from China and other state parties here in Canada.”

Chong said yes, “a new legislative framework to deal with a number of issues. For example, we believe that former senior politicians and former senior bureaucrats should register their contracts, if they are working for a foreign state or an entity controlled by a foreign state. We also believe that there need to be better enforcement tools available to law enforcement to counter these subversive Chinese foreign influence operations on Canadian soil. These are just two measures that we believe need new legislation in order to provide the tools necessary to counter these activities.”

On behalf of the Liberal government, Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne said:

“Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to attend the speech by my colleague this morning. One thing he failed to mention, and what I am inquiring about, is Canada’s leadership when it comes to taking action.

“Why is the member not mentioning to Canadians who are watching us that Canada was the first country to suspend an extradition treaty, between Canada and Hong Kong? Why is the member not mentioning to Canadians that Canada suspended the export of sensitive equipment? Why is the member not mentioning to Canadians that we took immigration measures?

“I chaired the meeting of the Five Eyes, and I consulted with our British counterparts at every step of the way. Why is the member not mentioning that we are continuing to engage with our partners around the world to show leadership, to take action, and to stand up for Canadian values and interests?”

TML Weekly, December 19, 2020 – No. 49

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