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?