Canadian Senator met with leaders affiliated to PRC espionage arm days before filing challenge to Foreign Interference Commission
On February 3rd Senator Yuen Pau Woo met with community leaders reportedly subject to Chinese Overseas Affairs Office
Three days before submitting to the Foreign Interference Commission that federal reports on election interference and WeChat disinformation are “problematic” Canadian Senator Yuen Pau Woo met in Vancouver with community leaders involved with Beijing’s “Overseas Chinese” espionage arm, giving a speech suggesting that a foreign agent registry will lead to anti-Asian exclusion.
The February 3, 2024 meeting at Vancouver’s Chinese Canadian Museum was arranged by Senators Woo and Victor Oh and also attended by Ottawa Liberal MP Chandra Arya, according to event accounts posted to WeChat, a social media platform linked in Canadian government reports to China’s disinformation attacks against Conservative MPs in the 2021 federal election.
The Canadian politicians that attended the early February meeting in Vancouver were also involved last year in a petition against a proposed foreign agent registry, which was initiated by a pro-Beijing media entity that also attended the February 3, 2024 meeting.
And asThe Bureau reported in December, based on leaked audio, in May 2020 Senator Woo privately pledged to a group of Vancouver community leaders with direct ties to Beijing’s united front, that Woo would fight to protect their voices in Canadian democracy.
By meeting this same group of pro-Beijing community and media leaders in Vancouver on February 3, 2024 and discussing similar matters, Woo’s political activities appear to form a pattern.
According to a WeChat report on political speeches at the February 3rd event in Vancouver Senator Woo said Chinese Canadians are “now in a very dangerous period,” and media reports regarding China’s foreign interference are discriminatory.
“They're still trying to tag us,” the senator reportedly said. “We have to fight back and teach our next generation to fight back.”
(The comments could not be independently verified but are consistent with Woo’s previous statements.)
In Senate debate, Woo and Oh have also denied reports that Beijing used WeChat to smear Conservative MPs who took a critical line on China’s hostile activities.
According to a WeChat report on Arya’s speech at the February 3 event, the Liberal MP said Chinese-Canadians face danger from a foreign agent registry bill and “without strict regulations, the Chinese community is vulnerable to harassment by security agencies.”
While there is no evidence of covert influence, ironically, elements of Woo’s submission to Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue on February 6 deal with similar talking points from the February 3rd meeting in Vancouver and political arguments promoted by the pro-Beijing media entities in attendance at this meeting, which in itself, could be an example of WeChat-amplified propaganda meant to discredit Canadian intelligence agencies, discourage criticism of Beijing, and cause fear in Chinese immigrants regarding Canadian anti-interference laws.