The CCP within the CPC
It's not just the Liberal Party of Canada which is being influenced by Beijing.
Up here in perky 'Canada,' the news these past few weeks has been dominated by reports that the Chinese government tried to influence the 2019 and 2021 federal elections to benefit the Liberal Party.
I, for one, am absolutely baffled as to why the CCP would want to keep Justin Trudeau in pow-
Oh, yeah. That.
After stonewalling and accusing his critics of racism (drink!) Trudeau has appointed a special rapporteur to look into the alleged meddling and also what “rapporteur” means, while the Conservatives are understandably on the attack.
According to Terry Glavin, though, the CPC has its own issues with influence operations sponsored by Beijing:
[Erin] O’Toole’s Conservatives came to voters in 2021 with an extensive position that called for a 180-degree turn away from the Trudeau government’s China-centric policies. Among other things, O’Toole’s policy called for restraints on Chinese state-owned enterprises in Canada, a ban on Huawei from Canada’s core 5G infrastructure, closer relations with Taiwan and the establishment of a foreign-influence registry.
Beijing was furious. Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu blasted O’Toole for adopting a “hostile” blueprint that was aimed at “smearing” China. The Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda organs referred to O’Toole’s policy as catering to a “toxic atmosphere” that would surely invite a “strong counterstrike.”
These same lines of attack were taken up by Joe Li, a councillor in Markham, Ontario and spokesman for the Chinese Canadian Conservative Association who maintains close relations with several prominent figures affiliated with the United Front Work Department, Beijing’s overseas influence-peddling operation. In the days after the Conservatives’ election loss, the knives came out.
Speaking on behalf of the CCCA, Li said the Conservative policy under O’Toole was a “hatred message.” Li said Canada should not criticize China’s human rights record, that “Canada started the war” that led to the Michaels’ abduction by apprehending Huawei heiress Meng Wanzhou, and that China was right to be sending warplanes into Taiwan’s air-defence zone.
While O’Toole’s ouster was seen mostly as a rebuke from the party’s right flank for moving too close to the centre and losing the election in the bargain, the coup was initiated by Bert Chen, an Ontario member of the party’s national council. One of Chen’s complaints was O’Toole’s China policy. But well before O’Toole’s election to lead the Conservatives in 2020, wealthy Chinese businesspeople were suddenly showing up among the Conservative party’s donors and membership rolls.
One recent immigrant who stands out is Ted Jiancheng Zhou, a property developer with condominium projects in Ontario and China. Zhou, who boasts intimate connections in China’s Communist Party hierarchy, was among the hundreds of super-rich Chinese who maxed out their legal contributions to the Liberal party during Trudeau’s “cash for access” engagements with pro-Beijing Chinese millionaires in 2016.
But then he appeared to switch. Although he wasn’t yet a citizen and had been in Canada less than five years, Zhou established ten separate organizations across Canada devoted to drawing Chinese-Canadians into the Conservative party. The NDP and the Liberals asked federal Election Commissioner Yves Côté to look into whether Zhou’s activities were in violation of election spending laws, but the complaint went nowhere.
Honestly, if you're a foreign government trying to meddle in the politics of a democracy, it's kind of a smart move to hedge your bets and gain a foothold on the left *and* the right.
Indeed, that's kind of what the Russians did in 2016. Putin found his most fertile ground among MAGA Republicans, but he's been caught astroturfing activists on the other team, too:
The Russian agency that interfered in the 2016 US election created a fake leftwing news publication, staffed it with fake editors with AI-generated photos and hired real freelance reporters as part of a fresh influence operation detected and removed by Facebook, the company said on Tuesday.
The latest operation by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) was still in its early stages when it was detected thanks to a tip from the FBI, according to Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher. The network had 13 accounts and two pages, with about 14,000 total followers.
The Facebook accounts and pages were designed to bolster PeaceData.net, an English- and Arabic-language website that claims to be a “global news organization”, but whose editorial staff are fictitious. Headshots of PeaceData’s “staff” were created using Generative Adversarial Networks, a type of AI that can produce lifelike images of faces, according to Graphika, a social media analysis firm that produced a report on the IRA operation.
PeaceData’s coverage of the US portrayed the country as “war-mongering and law-breaking abroad while being racked by racism, Covid-19, and cutthroat capitalism at home”, according to the report. The outlet was negative toward Donald Trump, but Graphika found that its treatment of his Democratic rival Joe Biden and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris was “noteworthy for its hostile tone”.
The US-focused content of PeaceData appeared designed to “build a leftwing audience and steer it away from Biden’s campaign”, according to the Graphika analysis. UK-focused content similarly appeared to appeal to leftwing audiences with attacks on the Labour party leader, Keir Starmer, for being too centrist.
The operation targeted supporters of Bernie Sanders and democratic socialists in the US and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK by having one of the fake accounts, the fictitious “Alex Lacusta”, post links to PeaceData articles in affiliated Facebook groups.
Horseshoe theory is real, it is spectacular, and Beijing and Moscow know it.
Speaking of Putin, after the smashing success of his unopposed romp through Ukraine, he may be setting his sights elsewhere in the neighbourhood:
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