Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK releases new report on foreign influence activities in Canada

OTTAWA, ON (May 31, 2021) – Alliance Canada Hong Kong published a new report titled, “In Plain Sight: Beijing’s Unrestricted Network of Foreign Influence in Canada.” This report examines the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) foreign influence and interference operations happening in Canada and provides recommendations on how to address these operations.

Read the full report here.

Seven aspects of the CCP’s foreign influence operations are covered in the report:

  1. Political influence,
  2. Elite capture,
  3. Surveillance and intimidation,
  4. Information and narrative discursion warfare,
  5. Academic influence & vulnerability of intellectual property,
  6. National security,
  7. United Front Work Department.
Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK to testify at the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations

Ottawa, ON (May 31, 2021) — Alliance Canada Hong Kong’s Executive Director Cherie Wong is set to testify at the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations tonight at 7:30pm Eastern / 4:30pm Pacific.

Below is the transcript of Cherie’s introductory remarks:

Thank you for inviting me again to speak to the committee.

Before I start, I want to make clear that diasporic communities are not a monolithic group. With heightened geopolitical tensions, we need to prioritize the protection of the diaspora and dissident communities from the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance and intimidation, and be critical while not fanning xenophobia.

I was asked to speak about harassment and intimidation today, but what I’m about to tell you might not be what you’re expecting.

Dissidents are not safe. Not at work, not in their own homes, not in civil societies, and not in Canada.

Threats, censorship and intimidation will continue as long as companies, non-profits, academia, politicians, media and other institutions with vested interests are fearful of angering Beijing to do their bidding. Beijing is effectively exporting their authoritarianism overseas.

From previous meetings, witnesses from Canada’s intelligence and enforcement agencies assured the committee of their collective efforts in combating foreign interference. With my lived experiences, I can tell you existing institutions and legislations are not working. Beijing’s foreign influence cannot be addressed with blanket policies as the CCP operates across sectors and often within legal grey areas, making bans or criminalization largely ineffective.

Last time, I spoke about Beijing’s global expansionist authoritarianism, their blatant disregard for international rules based order, their influence and interference operations in Canada — including my own experience of surveillance and harassment. Beijing’s capacities, capabilities, and ambitions already pose a dangerous threat, but few countries fully see the CCP’s global strategy of influence.

The CCP has been testing the tolerance of liberal democracies with their authoritarian overreach, as international norms are actively being rewritten.

Current approach to China lacks the comprehensive view from diasporic communities that speak the language, understand its history, cultures and intentions. Activists have witnessed these influence efforts since the 90s – this is not new, but only newly realized.

In ACHK’s most recent report and recommendations, we covered surface level examinations of seven aspects of the CCP’s foreign interference currently observed in Canada:

  • Political influence
  • Elite capture
  • Surveillance and intimidation
  • Information and narrative discursion warfare
  • Academic Influence & Vulnerability of Intellectual Property
  • National security
  • United Front Work Department

We found similar tactics, strategies, and operations throughout the different sectors.

We need a whole-of-government approach in how Canada engages with foreign authoritarian powers, like China. We need to invest in the proper tools, infrastructures, and resources to protect Canadians and our national interests.

Canada has an important role to play on the international stage as multilateral actions are an effective way to confront Beijing collaboratively. But it is imperative to expand our foreign and domestic policy toolbox to meet challenges we are facing in the 21st Century.

Our recommendations are as follows:

  • Create legislation for a foreign influence transparency scheme, a public registry of individuals, organizations, and representatives who are acting on behalf of foreign states in Canada

  • Transparency scheme should be paired with a public commission with investigative and enforcement powers, serving as the centralized point to coordinate the different levels of government, Canadian institutions, public agencies, and the general public
  • Support Canadian research & intellectual property with a cohesive federal policy to regulate research collaborations with foreign actors, while increasing funding for Canadian innovations
  • Invest into Resources and Infrastructures for Ethnic Communities in Canada
  • Protecting Canadians by placing restrictions on foreign actors from the collection, purchase, or export of Canadian citizen’s personal information and data

Harassment and intimidation of Canadians need to be understood from the perspective of dissidents. We need an approach to foreign influence that centers the communities’ needs, while addressing the issues holistically and strategically.

Thank you again for having me. I am happy to answer your questions.

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK Submits Updated Recommendations: Immediate Program Options for Hong Kongers Seeking Protection and August Exit Ban Situation Brief

Hong Kong Exit Bans – Gaps and Barriers for Activists to Leave

OTTAWA, ON (May 26, 2021) – ACHK has submitted Updated Recommendations: Immediate Program Options for Hong Kongers Seeking Protection and Situation Brief: Hong Kong Exit Bans – Gaps and Barriers for Activists to Leave, to the Government of Canada.

Immediate Program Options for Hong Kongers Seeking Protection

Writers:
Alliance Canada Hong Kong
ACHK Government Relations Team

The policy brief is available for download here.

 

Hong Kong Exit Bans – Gaps and Barriers for Activists to Leave

Writers:
Alliance Canada Hong Kong
This brief was written with the consultation of Information gathering teams in Hong Kong and Canadian Hong Konger teams currently assisting fleeing activists

The situation brief is available for download here

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK Testifies at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

On February 1, 2021, ACHK’s Cherie Wong testified in front of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

The full video of the day’s testimonies is available on parliament’s website here.

Transcript of Charie’s Testimony:

Bonjour, my name is Cherie Wong and I want to extend my thanks for the opportunity to appear before the committee today. I follow this committee’s work closely. Witnesses before me spoke about the immigration measure which only appeals to a small group of post-secondary graduates from Hong Kong or international students in Canada. I share similar concerns over the narrow reach of the new policies.

Canada’s approach to Hong Kong’s ongoing crisis fails to consider the realities of everyday people of Hong Kong.

The national security bureau has been carrying out systematic surveillance and clandestine operations, including having plain clothes officers stationed at the airports, loitering inside international terminals and boarding areas. We have friends whose travel documents are confiscated, teammates monitored and followed who are scared for their lives, and fellow activists who are arrested while looking for options to leave. The Hong Kong government is even looking at legislation to impose exit bans and further suppress freedom of movement.

This is not a conventional humanitarian crisis, so conventional solutions are not effective for those who need our help.

Last week, IRCC suggested Hong Kongers to apply through existing programs like family reunification, express entry, and UNHCR. These programs may appeal to middle-upper class migrants, but are not accessible for most Hong Kongers.

Most Hong Kongers do not qualify for travel exemptions under the current border restrictions. And many activists cannot leave the city, with travel documents confiscated and exit visas denied.

For immigration programs that rely on points systems. Our team assessed various profiles of well-known activists, none would have high enough scores to be successful under recent draws based on their socio-economic status, age, or professional history.

Most programs request a police check and biometric data. But the Hong Kong Police Force has carried out arbitrary mass arrests, staining many with a criminal record. A police check can be used to inform authorities of activists’ intention to flee the city.

Even if Hong Kongers qualify, they do not have the capacity, resources or the luxury of time to be stuck in bureaucratic processes in these pathways.

I cannot stress this enough: Canada’s conventional immigration and asylum pathways are failing Hong Kongers. We need a cohesive resettlement strategy that puts Hong Kong’s deteriorating situation into consideration.

Hong Kong’s political opposition has been decimated and the network of activists has been severely compromised. Persecution through the NSL has manifested indirectly through regulations at various social, political, legal and judicial sectors: loyalty oaths at the civil service and district councils, banning TV shows, textbooks, and websites, firing teachers and union activists, and mandatory biometrics for professional registration.

We expect the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to shift attention to every citizen who has participated in protests, voted in the democratic primaries, or even posted on social media.

Time is running out for Hong Kongers.

We have submitted a written brief to the committee, outlining our recommendations.

1. Create a dedicated asylum pathway for those fleeing persecution, allowing Hong Kongers to apply for travel documents directly from overseas with the ability to waive border restrictions.

2. Modify existing private sponsorship and family reunification measures to enable Canadian’s extended family members and activists to resettle in Canada.

3. Modernize and expedite the Canadian immigration and asylum system to address the backlog of new and pending claims.

4. Create a clear and strategic communications plan to combat misinformation and promote the various existing pathways for Hong Kongers.

5. Release a plan to support Canadians and their families in Hong Kong. Restore citizenship and permanent residence status, and expedited permanent residence pathways for extended family members

These are not standalone recommendations, but mean to work together to create a comprehensive strategy that addresses the diverse needs and maximize accessibility for Hong Kongers to resettle in Canada. All of these recommendations should be inclusive of individuals from Hong Kong who may not hold a BNO or HKSAR passport.

Thank you all, merci beaucoup.

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK Submits Recommendations to the Standing Committee for Citizenship and Immigration

OTTAWA, ON (February 1, 2021) – ACHK has submitted policy recommendations to the Standing Committee for Citizenship and Immigration.

Immigration and Refugee Measures for the People of Hong Kong
Written Submission to the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM)

Writers:
Alliance Canada Hong Kong
ACHK Government Relations Team
ACHK Research Team
Robert Falconer, Advisor

The paper is available for download here.

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

Statement on 50+ Hong Kong Democrats Arrested for Subversion in Election Primaries

OTTAWA, ON (January 6, 2021) – The arrests of over 50 democracy activists in Hong Kong today demonstrates Beijing’s determination to destroy any remnants of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The message is clear: Beijing will not tolerate one ounce of dissent.

Hong Kong rang in 2021 with over 50 Hong Kong pro-democratic candidates, organizers, and affiliates of the primary elections arrested on alleged violations of the national security law (NSL), specifically on charges of subversion of the state.

On January 4th, Chief Executive Carrie Lam stated that Beijing’s criticism of Hong Kong’s judiciary system was an exercise of freedom of speech. Evidently, this freedom of speech does not extend to criticisms of Beijing as demonstrated by today’s arrests. The alarming fact is that Hong Kong’s judiciary, the last mantle of rule of law, is under grave threat. The Hong Kong government hopes to dismantle and replace it with a system willing to do the Chinese regime’s bidding.

ACHK is appalled by the complicity of democratic nations. We strongly condemn these politically-driven arrests and call for the Canadian government to act.

ACHK urgently demands the Government of Canada and allied democratic nations to:

  1. Immediately invoke sanctions against human rights offenders in Hong Kong and China and those responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy
  2. Reform Canada’s foreign policy on the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China — including domestic policy changes that prioritizes the protection of Canadians’ fundamental freedom from erosion, and proactively combat and investigate Chinese Communist Party interference in Canadian society and combat foreign interference into Canadian institutions
  3. Create asylum pathways to help Hong Kongers flee mass detention, torture, and persecution, and demand amnesty for all Hong Kongers who were arrested, charged, and imprisoned for political dissidence


ACHK supports and welcomes Taiwanese, Tibetan, Uyghur, Chinese, and other communities who are suffering from persecution by the Chinese Communist Party. ACHK stands in solidarity with Indigenous and marginalized communities both within Canada and abroad. alliancecanadahk.com | [email protected]

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK Testifies at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

On November 16, 2020, ACHK testified in front of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration about the impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s immigration system.

The full video of the day’s testimonies is available on parliament’s website here.

Transcript of Robert’s Testimony:

Thank you to the committee for inviting me. It’s an honour and a pleasure to present with Starus and Alliance Canada Hong Kong.

The topic of today actually goes along with Mr. Shory, about the idea of timeliness and flexibility when it comes to the processing of applications for refugee claimants, immigrants and others. While we do come here as a group that’s focused on Hong Kongers, the recommendations we make would be very similar, and would broadly impact the larger immigrant and refugee community.

Historically, our immigration system has not been very flexible. Since 2000, we’ve had three periods where large numbers of claims were made in Canada, and each time it has taken several years for the Immigration and Refugee Board to catch up and process those claims. This is, by the way, the same with the most recent rise in refugee numbers since about 2016, and still our system continues to try to catch up.

With the advent of COVID-19, the faults in the processing pipeline, as it were, continue to have real human impacts. I was looking at some data today, and it was quite apparent that since March 2020, about 44% of all refugee claims have been referred to the IRB for a hearing date. That’s in comparison to [Technical difficulty—Editor] per cent in the same period last year. While we can certainly understand why the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic would exacerbate the ability to process and refer refugee claims, we have to understand there are human lives in the mix here. They are unable to access work permits, attain status in Canada and access social services. They are all impacted by those wait times.

Likewise, it prevents … especially the provinces, which, rightfully so, have to … lives of refugee claimants while their claims are being processed.

In addition to this, international students have found it very difficult to make the transition from graduation into the Canadian economic immigration system. Graduates of an education program will find that … study in Canada to excel academically and to find work afterwards, through no fault of their own but only because of the economic circumstances that surround them, they will be unable to gain the points necessary to qualify for the economic immigration system.

With that, we would like to make several recommendations.

The first would be that Canada develop a five-year post-graduate work permit, similar to the Australian model that was adopted for Hong Kongers. This would allow international students in Canada, who have graduated from our system, more time to gain work experience in Canada.

The second, for those who are fleeing or who are here from countries with oppressive regimes, as in the situation in Hong Kong right now, is to provide them more safety in Canada, and if need be, access to the refugee claim system.

Finally, it would be the transition to an interim visa program. Right now, refugee claimants, students or workers who are transitioning out of one permit to another whose permit expires in the meantime…on an implied status that is … many employers … students and workers themselves. The new … offers an interim visa program that, immediately upon applying for an extension or a change of status in the visa, issues them an interim visa that would last until the government gets back to them with their new work, study or visitor permit.

In addition, … into our immigration and refugee system would pay dividends both in humanitarian … as well as to the management of our immigration and refugee system.

The … aspect will be presented by my associate, Starus. The delays in the processing of work permits, study permits, and refugee claim referrals have a real impact, causing stress, financial difficulties, and inability to access social services.

I’ll pass the time over to Starus.

Transcript of Starus’s Testimony:

Thank you for letting me speak here today.

I am an international student from Hong Kong and also a student activist for the democratic movement. Today, I am here to speak about my experience.

We all know that Hong Kong is not safe for student activists anymore. However, here in Canada, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Hong Kong student activists are being intimidated and harassed by pro-Beijing supporters. We worry our activism is documented and it might lead to potential persecution for us and our families. I sincerely hope that the government will implement immigration and asylum measures as soon as possible. It is stressful for international students and their families to tackle COVID-19, Canada’s immigration system, and also worry about their safety at the same time.

I wanted to go back to Hong Kong before COVID, but I was wary of the potential travel restrictions. Even right now, many international students are stuck in Hong Kong.

As so many international students have already spoken up about, there is a lack of clear information about immigration rules and policies – and as migrants, when we miss deadlines, the consequences are very serious.

For example, I was required to apply for additional co-op visas to meet the requirements of a post graduate work permit, known as PGWP. This is the case for so many other international students across this country. However, the IRCC’s website is not clear. We need clear guidelines from IRCC, but also we need to ensure everyone’s immigration status will not be punished for the system’s failings during COVID.

As a Hong Kong student, I benefit from the new measure. However I want to advocate for other international students, who are also impacted by COVID, and may face deportation. I urge the committee to make the post-graduate work permit, renewable & to ensure real access to permanent residency for international students.

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK Submits Recommendations to the Standing Committee for Citizenship and Immigration

OTTAWA, ON (Novmeber 16, 2020) – ACHK has submitted recommendations to the Standing Committee for Citizenship and Immigration.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s Immigration & Asylum Systems
Written Submission to the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM)

Writers:
Alliance Canada Hong Kong
ACHK Government Relations Team
Robert Falconer, Advisor

The paper is available for download here.

Categories
Announcements Press Releases

ACHK Testifies at Special Committee on Canada-China Relations

On Tuesday August 11th, ACHK’s Davin Wong and Cherie Wong testified in front of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.

A video of their testimony is available here:

The full video of the day’s testimonies is available on parliament’s website here.

A transcript of Davin and Cherie’s testimony is reproduced below.

Davin’s Testimony:

My name is Davin Wong. I am the Director of Youth Engagement and Policy Initiatives of ACHK, and the former President of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union (HKUSU) until I fled Hong Kong. I would like to thank the committee for the invitation to testify.

I understand my privilege as a Canadian-Hong Konger, and it is my duty to speak up. Though I am speaking to you as a Canadian citizen, I am at risk. The Hong Kong government has already issued warrants for six overseas advocates for “secession” and “colluding with foreign countries” under the National Security Law, one of which is an American citizen advocating to their own government.

The National Security Law destroys Hong Kongers’ capacity to express opposing opinions. It is also used to disqualify candidates and hijack the LegCo election. My friends and activists are feeling the chilling effects under this draconian law. HongKongers now depend on international allies to hold Beijing and Hong Kong governments to account.

Last year, as a student leader involved in the pro-democracy movement, I had been harassed, threatened and intimidated. On August 30, 2019 at around midnight, I was followed, beaten up and wounded by a man in white t-shirt — that is a dress code known for pro-Beijing thugs. Three other activists were brutally attacked on the same day.

I did not go to the hospital after the attack. Hospitals are dangerous spaces for activists, as it was exposed that the police set up backdoors to the Hospital Authority’s system to track down hospitalized protestors. At the time, HKUSU had set up an underground clinic with voluntary doctors and medical students for protesters who are in need of medical help.

I also did not seek help from the police. Why would I? As an activist, the police treat me as an enemy. I have witnessed their abuse of powers and human rights violations. I have witnessed mass arrests – one in 10 of my friends had been arrested on bogus charges. I have carried a friend who was shot in the stomach by the police. I have had guns pointed at me, and I still vividly remember the smell of tear gas. The Hong Kong Police Force arrested medics and reporters; protestors were beaten, raped, tortured and denied due process. You know what my friends and I would carry to the protests? Our wills, because we feared that we would never see the sunlight again.

After the attack, I immediately booked my ticket at 3 PM and hopped on the plane at 7 PM. I knew fleeing Hong Kong was a one-way trip, but I still naively believe I might have a slight chance to return. And the National Security Law killed it. Our advocacy work here can get us arrested under the broad definition of “collusion with foreign countries.” We are not safe even in Canada, as we have seen dissidents abducted by Beijing in other countries. The fear is real.

Regarding the National Security Law, Beijing’s claims of extra-territorial jurisdiction over acts committed by non-Hong Kong residents outside of the territory is amplifying Beijing’s global authoritarian ambitions. This committee should also pay attention to Beijing’s long arms and the interference that is already effectively undermining our freedoms in Canada.

While I am not an expert in national security, I witnessed their tactics especially in academia and student activism. The Liaison Office was a major financial supporter of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association in Hong Kong universities. HKUSU was also once infiltrated by students trained by pro-Beijing groups. We worry that this kind of interference is already happening in Canada.

Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy have been destroyed. Journalists are guarding the last remnants of freedom of press and information, but the owner of Apple Daily, one of the most reliable sources in Hong Kong, was arrested under the National Security Law two days ago. The situation is urgent and we’re running out of time.

I ask Canada to immediately offer a safe haven for Hong Kongers, to curb the CCP’s malicious influence campaign at home, and to work with our allies to hold the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to account.

Thank you again for letting me share my experience. I look forward to your questions.

Cherie’s Testimony:

Thank you Mr. Chair. My name is Cherie Wong, I use she/her pronouns. I was born in Canada and raised in post-handover Hong Kong. I am honoured to be asked to speak here today, as a Hong Konger and as a Canadian.

I am the co-founder and Executive Director of Alliance Canada Hong Kong. ACHK is a volunteer-led and multi-partisan national collective of 18 community groups across 10 Canadian cities.

Since the start of Hong Kong’s democratic movement, I have received death and rape threats, with implications to harm my family. During the launch week of ACHK, I received an ominous phone call to my hotel landline in Vancouver, saying they are coming to collect me. Though the room was booked by another person, they still managed to find me.

On October 1st, 2019, I co-led a protest on Parliament Hill with Ottawa Stands with Hong Kong. Days before the demonstration, we received online threats. At the protest, we were physically and verbally assaulted, threatened, and harassed. Over 100 pro-Beijing supporters were mobilized quickly, they surrounded and kettled us.

While the Ottawa Police were called to escort us, pro-Beijing groups took photos and videos of us and continued to follow us even as we drove away. After the protest, many of us were doxxed, our private information was maliciously published.

Canadians across the nation are forced to hide their identity or be targeted by pro-Beijing forces. What is even more worrying – these interference campaigns are emboldened by Chinese diplomats in Canada. Tong Xiaoling, the Consul General in Vancouver has called on ethno-nationalistic unity as an attempt to assert control over the Sino communities.

Hong Kong is not only a foreign issue, which is why our demands are not only about advancing and striving for Hong Kong’s democratic future, but also reflects ongoing issues facing Canadian communities.

Alongside Citizen Press Conference, we consulted with 13,000 Canadians and Hong Kongers through a survey to inform Canada’s five demands of action.

  1. Provide humanitarian support for Hong Kongers, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Chinese, and other communities fleeing the Chinese Communist Party – the CCP
  2. Invoke sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials for human rights atrocities
  3. Protect Canadians’ constitutional rights and freedoms from erosion
  4. Investigate and combat foreign interference into Canadian institutions
  5. End all exports of military/police goods and technology

While we commend the decision to suspend sensitive military exports to Hong Kong, Canadian education institutions continue to be in a vulnerable position for trading funds for intellectual properties. Three Canadian universities are in the top 10 list in collaborating with the People’s Liberation Army: McGill University, University of Waterloo, and University of Toronto.

Foreign-state influence is deeply rooted in various aspects of Canadian society, including academia, media, social media, student communities, private sector, education and political institutions. It has become clear, there is a coordinated campaign to infiltrate and influence Canadian society – this is a part of the CCP’s global authoritarian agenda.

There is overwhelming support in Canada to stand against human rights atrocities. Co-signed by 27 community leaders and supported by 75 Parliamentarians from all major political parties – we are calling on the government to invoke Magnitsky-style sanctions, in collaboration with other middle powers.

The CCP has shown complete disregard for international rules. State suppression has only accelerated under the guise of COVID-19. Since the implementation of the national security law, the CCP is using oppressive tactics that are used in Tibet and East Turkestan. Notably, on the first day under the national security law, authorities have started to collect DNA from those who were arrested in Hong Kong.

There is persistent characterization that Hong Kongers readily have the resources to immigrate and all Hong Kong protestors are young. In reality, many do not have the material means to leave and may not qualify through regular pathways. We have a short window to act, before the CCP completely shuts down the freedom of movement in Hong Kong.

As for Canada’s role in Hong Kong’s democratic movement, I hope you can agree: The democratic future must be of the people, by the people, for the people of Hong Kong.

Before wrapping up, I want to acknowledge the narrative that the CCP has created: an illusion of net-benefits in trading with China. It is naive to expect them to change. Time and again, the CCP has used trade as a weapon. It is absolutely crucial that Canada begins diversifying our trade and economic relations with countries committed to democractic development and upholding human rights.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak here today. I look forward to your questions. I hope we can offer insights to advance Canadian interest in this larger discussion of Canada-China relations.