When a group of Canadian parliamentarians recently announced their intention to visit Taiwan, Beijing’s response was swift, with its embassy in Ottawa promising “resolute and forceful action” against any country interfering in China’s territorial integrity. .
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry previously summoned Canadian diplomat Jim Nickel over a G7 statement that called on China to peacefully resolve tensions surrounding US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan. , telling Nickel that the statement was helping “a bad guy do bad things.”
But the pressure on Taiwan is also exerted inside Canada.
Dozens of Chinese-Canadian associations echoed Beijing’s positions, saying supporting Chinese “reunification” with Taiwan was a “sacred mission of all Chinese sons and daughters at home and abroad.”
“Chinese Canadians overseas will firmly support the political stance of the Chinese government and fight against all external forces that attempt to divide and undermine the unity of China,” reads the letter, published in Dawa News, a Chinese language media based in Canada.
The letter was released Aug. 16, the same day the Canada-Taiwan Friendship Group of Canadian parliamentarians announced its planned visit to Taiwan in the fall.
Pifeng Hu is honorary president of the Peace and Development Forum of Canada, based in Richmond, British Columbia, one of the 87 groups signing the letter. Other signatories include major umbrella groups such as the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations, chambers of commerce, as well as smaller organizations dedicated to special interests such as wine appreciation and poetry.
Hu said in a Mandarin interview that Chinese Canadians view Taiwan and China as “one family.”
“So why do we organize activities like this? Because we still have feelings for our home country and the hometowns we grew up in,” Hu said.
“We don’t want to see people on both sides of the (Taiwan) strait continue to argue.”
Hu said his organization held public discussions on Taiwanese issues, but never invited anyone who supported Taiwanese independence because their views were incompatible with those of members of his group.
Beijing opposes activities it says undermine its territorial integrity, such as Pelosi’s Aug. 2 visit to Taiwan, which it considers a Chinese province.
Canada subscribes to the One China Policy, which states that there is only one Chinese government and does not maintain diplomatic relations with the government of Taiwan.
Pelosi’s visit prompted Beijing to release a policy white paper on Aug. 10 titled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era,” reiterating Beijing’s position that Taiwan has been part of China since the Antiquity and that its reunification with the continent represents a historic mission. for the ruling Communist Party.
The Dawa News letter cites the white paper as a demonstration of the Chinese government’s and people’s willingness to pursue reunification.
Hilbert Yiu, former president of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, also a signatory to the Dawa News letter, said in a Mandarin interview that Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan was a “publicity stunt,” designed to draw China into the war.
He said that the members of the association act for the good of Canada.
“Let me ask you a question: will Canadians agree if Quebec wants to be independent? Will the UK be happy if Scotland wants to be independent? You can’t have this double standard (towards China),” Yiu said.
In a statement in response to the planned visit to Taiwan by Canadian parliamentarians, the Chinese Embassy urged “the Canadian side to uphold the one-China principle and respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Aug. 19 that parliamentarians should consider the implications of the planned visit.
Chinese government media described Chinese Canadians as alarmed by Pelosi’s visit and the actions of Western governments in support of Taiwanese “separatism.” Its English-language China Daily published an article on August 19 titled “Canada angered by Taiwan provocations.”
The article quoted British Columbia’s David Choi, national executive chairman of the National Congress of Chinese Canadians, as saying that 1.8 million Chinese Canadians would be “disgusted” if Taiwan was used as a pawn in the conflict.
Choi advises the BC government as co-chair of its Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council, which focuses on policy implementation related to the province’s 2014 apology for historic wrongs against Chinese Canadians.
In an interview in which he discussed his remarks in China Daily, Choi told The Canadian Press that Canada should “pause and think” and stop being a cheerleader for the United States. .
“We are moving away from our traditional role as peacemakers. In the past, Canada was impartial when there was a conflict between different nationals or political entities,” he said.
Angel Liu, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver, which represents Taiwan’s foreign ministry, said the letter from Dawa News was forwarded to him by many Taiwanese Canadians and expressed views that were “not at all acceptable to everyone abroad”. Taiwanese.
She said the Chinese government is stepping up messaging to Canada regarding Taiwan.
“I don’t know if the strategy is useful for others, but it’s useless for Taiwanese Canadians,” Liu said in a Mandarin interview.
David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said he accepts the right of groups to hold different opinions, but is sometimes concerned that organizations repeat opinions at the behest of foreign governments.
“And again, I’m not saying it happens in this case, but that’s where my concern lies. What I would like to be sure is that all organizations express their personal opinions and do not transmit the opinions of another anonymous actor, because that, I think, is problematic,” Mulroney said.
He noted that Canada does not have a law requiring individuals or groups to register their activities if they are lobbying on behalf of a foreign state, unlike countries like Australia.
Public Safety Canada said the RCMP is aware of “interference activities by foreign actors” in Canada and has put in place “various methods and techniques” to deal with it.
He did not refer to any particular case.
Yiu, of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, said members of the group knew some Canadians did not share their views.
“Once, other Chinese immigrants told me to go back to China,” Yiu said. “I replied, it’s completely normal that you don’t like my opinions. However, it is my personal choice to stay here or leave.
—Nono Shen, The Canadian Press
. sacred mission of the tens groups Chinese Canadian echo Beijing on Taiwan