How many wars has Canada participated in?
China in CanadaThumbscrews for critics
Montreal, Chinatown. Countless Chinese restaurants line up with china and tea shops. As in many major North American cities, Chinatown is a popular tourist attraction in Montreal. But not everyone feels comfortable in the quarter, including Kalbinur Semseddin. She feels unsafe in Chinatown. She, her husband and her three children belong to the Uyghur Muslim minority persecuted in China. According to Amnesty International, the country is currently holding around one million Uyghurs in camps in Xinjiang Province - including many family members of the Semseddins. The goal: violent cultural assimilation.
Fear for the children
When Kalbinur Semseddin got her Canadian citizenship, she thought that strong Canada would now protect her. But Beijing's long arm is felt here as well: Since she and her husband took part in demonstrations against the suppression of the Uyghurs in Montreal, they have received regular calls and automatic messages in Chinese. Warning, it says, all activities against China should be stopped immediately. In addition, according to his own statements, her husband was photographed on the street and followed several times. Since then, Semseddin has also been concerned about the safety of her children.
The "five poisons"
The information is difficult to verify. However, they coincide with the statements of other dissidents, people who are counted among the so-called "five poisons" by the Chinese authorities. Beijing describes supporters of the Chinese democracy movement, supporters of an independent Taiwan and an independent Tibet, supporters of the spiritual movement Falun Gong - and the Uyghurs. The Canadian authorities have known about the systematic attempts at intimidation for years. However, it is difficult to determine who is responsible, says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former head of the Asia-Pacific division of the Canadian intelligence service CSIS:
"The problem, of course, is that these activities take place in secret. Very rarely, for example, is there a direct physical attack, a criminal act that can be ascribed to a single person. Most of the time, everything takes place on the verge of illegality. We have such methods in seen more and more frequently in recent years. China wants to tighten the thumbscrews on dissidents - the famous "five poisons" - significantly. "
China's influence in all areas
However, repression against dissidents is only one of the Chinese fields of activity. Resource-rich Canada, in the backyard of the USA, is China's strategic zone of influence. The focus is on the most important areas of Canadian society: media, parliaments, business and universities. In addition to traditional secret service activities, China is increasingly using soft methods to obtain information and influence it. As an example, the former Canadian secret service employee Michel Juneau-Katsuya cites the Confucius Institutes, which are active around the world - cultural organizations at universities financed by China.
"In Canada, employees of Confucius Institutes have applied for political asylum and disclosed that the institutes are Trojan horses. They are supposed to influence public opinion about China and help recruit informants. People with access to strategic information, for example of science. "
The Ministry of Education in the Canadian province of New Brunswick sees it similarly. The ministry recently terminated its cooperation with the institutes. Since then, China has threatened the province with economic sanctions. There are also a number of other dubious Chinese activities at Canadian universities. Beijing repeatedly protests against critical lectures and conferences, most recently against a congress at the Université de Montréal on the situation of the Uyghurs - an unacceptable interference, criticizes the former Canadian ambassador in Beijing Guy Saint-Jacques:
"First of all, you have to differentiate between attempts at meddling and legitimate statements. What is no longer legitimate is when freedom of expression is threatened.
Guy Saint-Jacques is also convinced that attempts to meddle have increased - also with regard to Canadian politics. To this end, China is targeting politicians of Chinese origin with patriotic appeals - whom Beijing does not regard as Canadians, but as Chinese. Saint-Jacques dates the change to this more offensive policy when Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. Since then, China has seen itself as a model for the world. The former ambassador calls for a more decisive demeanor towards this new China:
"The only language China understands is that of strength. If there are no reactions, China will say to itself: We can go on like this. The other countries will tolerate everything because they want to continue trading with us. I think here it needs joint action. Because if a country acts alone, it risks being severely punished by China. In a sense, you have to help China become a better global citizen. "
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