Exclusive: Ottawa alerted in 2015 China's secret police ops escalating
Prime Minister Trudeau ignored advice to organize "all-of-government effort" against Beijing's covert repatriations
Ottawa has known since December 2015 that Beijing’s covert repatriations were escalating in Canada, yet Justin Trudeau’s administration ignored urgent recommendations from CSIS to organize an “all-of-government-effort” against China’s secret police intrusions, according to a June 2019 national security report.
Prime Minister Trudeau was also briefed repeatedly on Beijing’s so-called “Fox Hunt'' operations, the report says, including a 2018 memo from his national security advisor that repeated CSIS’s warnings and advice.
But incredibly, Ottawa’s efforts to intervene against Beijing’s clandestine operations actually “waned” after Trudeau was briefed, the report says.
And meanwhile, the June 2019 document says, “Chinese Fox Hunt activities have increased in intensity.”
These findings from NSICOP, a parliamentary intelligence body that reports to Trudeau, portray Beijing’s secret agents wielding dangerous power in Chinese diaspora communities, essentially unimpeded by Ottawa.
“PRC officials have used covert and unauthorized tactics,” the report says, “including unauthorized trips to Canada, threats, intimidation, harassment, arresting relatives in China as a form of leverage, paying Chinese-language journalists to locate and track individuals, and discouraging people from reporting their covert activities to Canadian police.”
Sources with awareness of RCMP and CSIS’s monitoring of Fox Hunt agree with NSICOP’s findings.
In late 2020, one source pointed to an FBI investigation in New York that ultimately led to convictions against a Chinese-American man and a former New York police officer for acting as undeclared Chinese agents in conspiracies targeting citizens on American soil.
The source said Canadian law enforcement officials were asked to pursue similar investigations in 2017 and 2018, but “no investigations were ordered.”
“The Canadian government is doing nothing,” the source said in 2020. “The U.S. take hard action, while we just sit here and observe.”
Another stunning allegation in the June 2019 NSICOP report reviewed by The Bureau, suggests Beijing turned a blind eye to fentanyl trafficking in order to pressure Ottawa into allowing Fox Hunt investigations.
“The RCMP noted that it needed to balance its approach on Fox Hunt against RCMP investigative and enforcement priorities with China, notably fentanyl and money laundering investigations,” says the NSICOP document.
Sources not authorized to speak publicly confirmed this intelligence.
“We knew that their intent [in Fox Hunt] is to target ex-pats,” one source said. “So the Chinese Communist Party held this over us when we went asking assistance to combat the opioid crisis.”
Egregious Abuse of Tourist Visas
The June 2019 NSICOP report explains that after 2012, Fox Hunt operations purporting to bring Chinese corruption suspects in Canada back to justice scaled up under President Xi Jinping.
The RCMP initially assisted China’s probes because Beijing agreed to seek permission before sending agents into Canada. But it became clear from 2015 that Fox Hunt was a pretext for Beijing’s international repression and intelligence gathering.
“As CSIS summarized, ‘PRC threat actors are covertly and knowingly circumventing Canada’s law enforcement, immigration and judicial authorities,” the NSICOP report says.
It adds in December 2015 — although Global Affairs Canada had “expressed concerns that any response on Fox Hunt would undermine Canada’s bilateral relations with PRC” — Canada’s ambassador in Beijing addressed “Chinese officials about unauthorized activities of Chinese police in Canada.”
That action followed the Harper Government issuing a formal diplomatic “demarche” note in June 2015 “reminding China of its obligations” to provide access to Canadian citizens arrested in China, NSICOP’s report says.
Next, in September 2016, Trudeau’s national security advisor raised Fox Hunt concerns with Beijing at a high-level national security dialogue.
After CSIS reported Beijing was ignoring Canada’s diplomatic messages, the national security advisor again raised Fox Hunt in a June 2017 meeting with senior Chinese officials.
But China’s covert operations continued.
And in November 2017, Canada’s Embassy in Beijing discovered two Chinese police officials had applied for tourist visas to travel to Canada “as part of Fox Hunt.”
In response Global Affairs Canada asked the Privy Council Office to issue a “demarche” to Beijing “for this egregious attempt to go around processes put in place between both governments.”
But that didn’t happen.
“No action was taken at that time,” the June 2019 NSICOP report says, “or more generally, since.”
“Briefing Note to PM-Fox Hunt”
In March 2018, CSIS provided the intelligence equivalent of a red alert for Trudeau, widely circulating an assessment called Covert Chinese Repatriation Activities in Canada Continue to Defy Canadian Authorities.