OTTAWA – Last June, 33 Canadian senators voted to defeat a resolution that treated China’s Uighur Muslims as genocide.
While they all faced criticism from some quarters, only one – Sen Yuen Pau Wu, leader of the Independent Senators Group – was chosen as an alleged puppet of China’s communist regime, asked to resign and “go home”. “
Last week, Wu received a similar response when he tweeted about the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, nearly three years in retaliation for the Canadian arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States. Two Canadians were arbitrarily detained by China.
Wu tweeted that it was a “happy day” for the families of the Canadian men, known around the world as the “Two Michaels”, and for Meng, who were simultaneously released and expected to return to China. permission was granted. He urged Canadians to consider the lessons learned from the case.
He attached a link to an op-ed published in the Toronto Star, which quoted a former US ambassador, Chas Freeman, as saying that “the US, with Canada’s assistance, as part of its trade-and-technology I took Meng hostage in the first place. War with China.”
This drew Wu a sharp rebuke from Chris Alexander, a former diplomat and one-time immigration minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
“By claiming that Meng is a ‘hostage’ @yuenpauwoo has violated his oath as Senator of Canada and should resign,” Alexander tweeted.
“The mouthpiece for foreign propaganda should have no place in the Canadian Parliament,” he said.
Alexander’s tweet was shared by others, who referred to Wu as “pond scum” and “Chinese comemy f—” who “should be sent back to China with Meng.”
China has since the beginning believed that Meng’s arrest was politically motivated. Canada and the United States have strongly denied this, but many American and Canadian experts nevertheless share Freeman’s view that she was a political bargaining chip.
That idea was promoted by former US President Donald Trump, who was attempting to negotiate a trade deal with China at the time of Meng’s arrest and who said he would intervene in his extradition case “if I had to. It’s good for what will be the biggest trade deal ever done.”
Former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Manly said at the time that Trump’s comments “gave Ms Meng’s lawyers a good reason to go to court and say, ‘This is not an extradition case. This is really leverage in a trade dispute and has nothing to do with Canada.”
Wu notes that Manley and others who have echoed similar views have not been characterized as the mouthpiece for China.
He believes it is a specific type of disgrace to stigmatize people of Chinese descent and is concerned about where the rising tide of anti-Asian sentiment in Canada could lead.
“I’m Exhibit A, if you will, only because I have a little bit of a public profile,” Wu said in an interview.
“But there are many other people in the community who don’t have my protection and are really afraid of increased typecasting and stigmatization.”
Wu was actually born in Malaysia and grew up in Singapore before immigrating to Canada at the age of 16.
He has been accused of being “friendly to Beijing”, the mouthpiece and lobbyist of the Communist Party of China, even though he points out that he has been “three generations removed from the mainland (China).”
He fears recent immigrants to China, who still have family ties there, are considered even more suspicious and less able to defend themselves.
Wu points to reports that Chinese Canadians may have been influenced by China at the behest of or voted in last month’s federal election, which resulted in the defeat of several Conservative office bearers who took a tough stand against Beijing had advocated.
“It’s really a reprehensible and dangerous way of thinking because it creates assumptions about Chinese Canadians – whose ideas may not be mainstream[and]believe that they are not able to think for themselves,” he said. .
“The allegation that they are foreign agents or puppets of the Chinese government is a very serious allegation and, of course, hearkens back to the days of McCarthyism when careers were ruined and lives were lost and we have to be very careful. . Go back to that place.”
One of the defeated Conservative MPs, Kenny Chiu, who lost his B.C. ride to the Liberals in the September 20 election, told The Canadian Press that there were WeChat posts during the campaign, saying they included Conservatives. There was false information about and allegations of a private member were made. The bill he introduced would discriminate against Chinese Canadians. But he also said that his party could have done a better job by talking directly to the members of that community.
When Wu spoke out last June against a proposal labeling China’s treatment of Uighurs as a genocide, he argued that Canada, its history of forcing Indigenous children to attend residential schools Given that, China should not try to lecture from a position of moral superiority on human rights.
Instead, he said, Canada should appeal to its Chinese “friends” not to make the morally wrong and socially harmful mistake of trying to suppress and forcibly assimilate a minority group.
Sen. Peter Harder, a former government representative in the Senate who now sits with the Progressive Senate group, made a similar argument.
Sen. Peter Boehm, a former senior global affairs bureaucrat and sherpa to prime ministers at the G7 summit, argued that some paragraphs of the resolution’s “whatever passes for megaphone diplomacy” were intended to anger China and possibly win. will gain nothing except to hurt. Kovrig and Spavor released.
Boehm, a member of the Independent Senators Group, said in an interview that both he and Harder received “some brickwork” for their speeches, including those of his former colleague Alexander.
Sikandar could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
“What I kept getting was ‘You are a seasoned diplomat, you should have known better, shame on you.’ It was basically me meeting Chris Alexander and others who consider themselves experts,” Boehm said.
But unlike Wu, he said: “No one has tweeted or commented that I should go back to China.”
Boehm agrees with Wu that “there is a connection here with anti-Asian racism on the rise in Canada – and some of these statements are entering or various Canadians who should know better are putting up on their social media feeds.” .
“I think it’s unfair and disrespectful.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 3, 2021.