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Joly: “Denied a visa to a Chinese agent”

OTTAWA – New details are emerging on the story of Chinese political interference in Canada: today, during the hearing of the Foreign Minister, Mélanie Joly (in the pic above, from her Facebook profile), before the parliamentary committee for procedures and internal affairs which is studying the case, the same minister revealed Canada denied a diplomatic visa application for a Chinese political agent last fall.

“When China tried to send a political agent last fall, we decided to deny him a visa. Which is obviously the right thing to do” said Joly, who then clarified that it was “just a visa denied. No diplomat has been expelled. For every expulsion, there is one for us from China: right now our biggest challenge is to understand how China operates, how it plans, how it works” she said. “I deeply believe in the importance of diplomacy and our diplomats. More than ever we need eyes and ears on the ground”.

Joly then spoke of her meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang at the G20 meeting in New Delhi earlier this month. “I was extremely clear. I looked him in the eye and told him that we will never tolerate any form of foreign interference in our democracy and international affairs”.

“You spoke harshly to your counterparts in Beijing, you say. You even stared into his eyes. I’m sure he was very intimidated” commented Conservative MP Michael Cooper, who was immediately asked by several MPs to apologise. In particular, NDP MP Rachel Blaney said the comment, directed at a woman in a position of power, was “shameful”.

Meanwhile, it’s today’s news that two organizations in the Montreal area have come under investigation as “alleged Chinese police stations”. In an email to CTV, RCMP spokesman Charles Poirier said the “alleged centers” are in Montreal and Brossard, on the city’s South Shore.

According to the human rights group Safeguard Defenders, so-called Chinese police stations (there are over 100 worldwide) are used to monitor and threaten Chinese citizens living abroad, sometimes forcing them to return to China.

The RCMP did not provide additional details on the Montreal-area centers involved in the investigation. However, Poirier urged all Chinese Canadians who have fallen victim to a suspected “overseas police” station to come forward and call 514-939-8301. “These activities and any other form of intimidation, harassment or targeting of diaspora communities or individuals in Canada will not be tolerated,” he said.

And also today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was closely monitoring the situation. “We are making sure the RCMP is following up on this and that our intelligence systems are taking it seriously,” he said. “It’s a problem that worries us a lot,” he added.

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