Cheri Wong was sleeping in her hotel room when the phone rang.
It was January 2020 and the 25 year old from Ottawa was on a trip to Vancouver. She wrapped up a busy week thanks to the launch of a new activist group called “Alliance Canada Hong Kong,” which accused the Chinese government of cracking down on human rights in Hong Kong and its Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.
Wong’s Vancouver hotel room was booked by a colleague under a different name and she hadn’t told anyone where she was staying, so it seemed odd that she called the hotel at 7 a.m. Anyway answered it.
“The voice on the phone just kept saying, ‘I am coming to get you, we are coming to get you.’ They identified my room number, they recognized me by name and just repeated, ‘We’re going to get you,'” Wong recalled.
“When I hung up the phone, I just sat there quietly and fear took over me, the idea that someone knows where I am, knows who I am. And as they said, they’re coming to pick me up “
On episode 6 of the podcast China Rising, we will examine the claims of Canadians who say they and their families have faced threats, harassment and surveillance for speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party.
On February 9, 2021, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, issued a rare public warning about a covert operation The Chinese government targeted the Canadians.
“These activities differ from the norms of diplomatic activity in that they cross the border by attempting to undermine our democratic processes and threatening our citizens in a covert and covert manner,” said David Vignault Ciad.
“To be clear, the threat is not from the Chinese people, but from the Chinese government which is strategizing for geopolitical advantage on all fronts.”
Vignot specifically pointed to China’s ‘Operation Fox Hunt’, which was launched by Beijing in 2014 as an anti-corruption campaign to target wealthy Chinese citizens and members of the Communist Party, who fled overseas. Had gone.
But both CSIS and The FBI recently warned The operation is also being used to crack down on dissent abroad, usually targeting the Chinese expatriate.
Wong grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Canada about 10 years ago. In 2019, she participated in rallies in Canada supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and gave an interview to a local radio host. He said that then he started receiving abuses on social media.
“It was almost an attack, a wave of online harassment,” she recalled. “Death threats, rape threats, the amount of online violence immediately after each press interview has confirmed my family’s suspicions and the kind of whispers I whisper: The moment you speak out against the (Chinese Communist) party, there will be consequences. facing you.”
But at the time, Wong said she mostly shrugged it off, taking it to a swarm of angry online Twitter trolls; Until that January morning in 2020, when the phone rang in his Vancouver hotel room.
“And it was a very clear sign that I was being threatened. Because of the work I do, it is a threat to my personal safety,” she said.
Wong reported the incident to Vancouver police, but says she did not see a clear threat to her safety from the phrase “we’re coming for you”.
Vancouver police told Granthshala News that they investigated and concluded that no threats were made. In a statement, a police spokesman said, “The hotel was already having problems with scammers calling customers into their rooms, and it is possible this was another scam call.”
Wong said that complete strangers have since taken photos of her in public, including once as she waited at her local bus stop. When he questioned the man, he said, they fled.
Wong’s photos appeared online in chat groups on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, along with other personal details.
“My phone number, my email, where I usually appear in my city, like my neighborhood, that kind of information was being circulated in these WeChat groups to say, ‘Look out for it,'” Race Traitor” when you see him in these areas.'”
“I’m scared out of my mind like every day,” she said.
Wong said some of the perceived harassment and intimidation comes from ordinary, patriotic members of Canada’s Chinese community, who feel “they need to protect the reputation of the homeland.” But she also believes she is being targeted by a Chinese state-sponsored campaign.
In May of this year, Wong and his group, Alliance Canada Hong KongThe House of Commons Committee on Canada-China Relations submitted a report to Canada.
It’s called “In plain sight: Beijing’s unrestricted network of foreign influence in CanadaThe report covers a range of issues and accused the Chinese Communist Party of conducting surveillance and intimidation campaigns targeting the Chinese expatriate and dissident communities in Canada.
“The CCP has swiftly decided that these foreign communities are a threat to the regime,” she said.
in a statementA spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Canada said that China “has never interfered or intruded against any other country and will never interfere or intrude,” calling the Alliance Canada Hong Kong report “outrageous nonsense”. Huh.
However, there have been cases of surveillance, harassment and intimidation in Canada, where it is difficult to deny the alleged links with Chinese government officials.
In February 2019, a Uighur Canadian named Wait Turdash was invited to deliver a speech at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont. Turdush grew up in China and moved to Canada in 1998, where she became an outspoken critic of the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority.