Canadian claims China demands he stop criticizing its government or his family will be harmed
At home in Ontario, his activism barely raised an eyebrow.
But when a quiet-spoken Chinese dissident travelled to the country of his birth last year, security officers shadowed him for weeks, booking hotel rooms next to his, even following him to breakfast.
Before he left, they also had a disturbingly direct message: Stop condemning the Chinese government to Canadian media, or the family he had come to visit would face the consequences.
“They said if this (critical) story comes out in the Canadian press, then you are responsible for the life of your relatives,” he recalls.
According to a confidential report submitted to the federal government earlier this year — not yet released to the public — it’s just one example of a sweeping intimidation campaign by Chinese officials against activists here in Canada.
The product of a coalition led by Amnesty International Canada, the report catalogues harassment ranging from digital disinformation campaigns to direct threats.
Targets include Canadian representatives of what the Chinese sometimes call the five “poisons”: the Uyghur Muslim minority, independence-minded Tibetans, Taiwanese, democracy advocates and, especially, the Falun Gong.
“This is not just a matter of occasional and sporadic incidents,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty Canada, one of the organizations behind the report, along with groups representing Chinese religious, human-rights and ethnic minorities in this country. “There is a consistent pattern … a troubling example of a foreign government being very active in Canada in ways that are undermining human rights.”