On behalf of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China, I wish to thank the committee for this series of hearings on the situation in Hong Kong.
For too long, we believed that China would abide by international rules of engagement and diplomatic civility as far as respect for the fundamental concepts of the rule of law is concerned. This illusion has now been shattered by the arbitrary arrest of the two Michaels and the retroactive application of the national security law in Hong Kong.
For this presentation, we will focus on two areas that we as Canadians can undertake: first, how to counter China's interventions and interference and protect our Canadian interests and values; and second, what specific programs Canada should adopt to support those in Hong Kong who try to leave. I will address the first issue, and my colleague Avvy Go will address the second issue.
Since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, China has made a concerted effort to mask its human rights abuses and to present a positive image to advance its global ambitions. It has set up hundreds of proxy associations in Canada, many of them empty shells, to influence and interfere in Canadian political, social and cultural spheres and gain access to and influence our elected officials.
Here are four examples of this united-front strategy that Chinese consulates and their proxies have carried out.
They have held community press conferences to support the release of Meng Wanzhou, and more clumsily hired non-ethnic Chinese actors to demonstrate in order to show mainstream support for their cause. They have compelled Chinese international students to demonstrate against pro-Hong Kong rallies by threatening to withhold their government scholarships or harm their families back home if they don't comply. They have cultivated the mayor of a rural British Columbia community for years, using a quote from him praising China's response to COVID-19 on Twitter to burnish China's virus-fighting narrative. Finally, they introduced the Confucius Institute, which CSIS has deemed to be a quasi-spying agency, into an Ontario school board, by hosting a reception for its chair at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, a venue normally reserved for heads of state.
This wholesale and ongoing influence in our civil society has continued for 30 years as part of China's efforts to influence our policies and politics. To dampen or to put a stop to these efforts, we should do the following: one, be vigilant against cyber-attacks and theft of intellectual property from our corporations and research institutions; two, provide critical assessment of China's takeover of our corporations in strategic industries such as mining and energy resources, as well as institutions that are vital to our national security, such as infrastructure and nursing homes; three, support a national hotline, as proposed by Amnesty International, to coordinate and encourage the reporting of China's harassment and intimidation of our own citizens; four, establish a more stringent process to ensure transparency among current and former elected officials in their relationships with China in order to mitigate and undo foreign influence in our internal affairs; five, coordinate with like-minded allies and join the call for a UN special rapporteur on Hong Kong; and six, apply the Magnitsky Act to sanction officials from Hong Kong and China responsible for human rights violations.
Finally, and this was not in my written script, I want to share with you a news report that came in yesterday about the recent Global Affairs' contract to award a Chinese company with the installation and maintenance of x-ray scanners in our embassies around the world. Not only did two other Canadian companies offer lower bids, but the Chinese company, Nuctech, has been slapped with a five-year tariff by the EU for alleged dumping and engaging in questionable practices. Recently, the company was caught setting up a honey trap to scheme a Taiwanese official into purchasing these machines.
I will now yield my time to my colleague Avvy Go.