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From West to East, dangerous Chinese interference networks spread around the world. And in Italy?

CCP runs network through embassies as part of its 'United Front' influence, enforcement operations on foreign soil.

By Sam Cooper, Taiwan News

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is running a global network of "consular volunteers" through its embassies and consulates who form part of its “United Front” influence and enforcement operations on foreign soil.

In recent years, Canada has found itself entangled in a web of alleged interference orchestrated by China, raising concerns about the sanctity of its democratic processes. Disturbing reports have emerged, painting a picture of a systematic attempt by China to infiltrate Canadian politics, with potential implications for the nation's sovereignty and security.

The saga began with accusations of interference in the 2019 and 2021 Canadian federal elections, as highlighted by Canadian media. China's attempts to sway these crucial democratic processes were reportedly coupled with threats directed at Canadian politicians, creating an atmosphere of vulnerability within the political landscape.

A particularly concerning revelation surfaced in late 2022 when Canada's Global News reported on a suspected attempt by China to infiltrate the Canadian Parliament. The alleged scheme involved funding a network of candidates for the 2019 federal election, exposing the intricate methods employed by Chinese

entities to influence Canadian politics.

Classified documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in early 2023 added fuel to the fire, unveiling disinformation campaigns and undisclosed donations orchestrated by China's Ministry of State Security and United Front Work Department. The objective was to support candidates sympathetic

to Beijing's interests during the 2021 Canadian federal election.

One of the most damning revelations came in a November 2022 investigative report by Global News, exposing a CCP proxy group that mobilized substantial funds to infiltrate the election network. The involvement of a Legislative Assembly member and an election candidate's staffer as intermediaries underscored the intricate nature of the alleged interference.

More recently, audio tapes surfaced, revealing a Canadian senator's promise of support to members of the CCP's United Front. The private briefing in May 2020 exposed the senator's commitment to shielding these individuals from critical scrutiny, raising questions about the extent of influence within Canadian political circles.

The United Front, a political strategy employed by the CCP, involves networks of groups and individuals influenced or controlled by the party to advance its interests globally. The alleged involvement of high-profile Canadian politicians, including cabinet minister Mary Ng, suggests a worrying infiltration of influential figures by the Chinese Consulate and United Front influence networks.

Experts warn that China's global strategies aim to leverage overseas Chinese diaspora communities against the democratic institutions of host nations. Intelligence reports indicate that Chinese Consulate officers and proxy agents interfere in elections at all levels of the Canadian government, offering funding, logistical support, and media backing to preferred candidates.

Canadian intelligence investigations have uncovered a foreign interference network in the Greater Toronto Area, implicating Chinese consulates, community leaders, and politicians. It is believed that targeted politicians' staff provide advice on China-related issues, while community leaders facilitate the clandestine transfer of funds and recruit potential targets.

Even more alarming is the reported involvement of the transnational Chinese mafia, particularly the Fujian mafia, in monitoring and interfering with diaspora communities. The nexus between an elite Chinese Mafia suspect in British Columbia and CCP police stations raises questions about the extent of criminal networks operating in Canada.

A damning report by the International Coalition Against Illicit Economies highlighted Canada's vulnerability as a safe zone for transnational criminal networks, undermining both national security and democracy. The report emphasized Canada's role as a hub for illicit trade and money laundering, enabling criminal and terrorist organizations to operate with impunity.

Deep infiltration of Vancouver's seaport by Iranian gangsters and the Big Circle Boys, a transnational mafia directed from China, adds another layer of complexity to the situation. Reports indicate that Canada has become a global source state for fentanyl production, further highlighting the multifaceted threats posed by these criminal networks.

Chinese interference in Canada extends beyond elections, with revelations about the covert "takeover" of Chinese-language media. Sophisticated and well-funded schemes, coupled with threats against journalists, aim to control "key media entities" and influence Canadian media to favor Beijing's interests.

The implications are clear – Canada is facing an extensive network of Chinese interference, mirroring similar threats in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., the U.S., and other Western nations. China is also alleged to attempting to control global bodies like the U.N. and WHO and weaponize them for its advantage.

The U.K.'s House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee said in a report released last year that the intelligence threat posed by China is compounded by a "whole-of-state" approach with the use of state and non-state players for spying.

In 2022, a British man who worked as a researcher at Britain's Parliament and worked with prominent lawmakers on China policy was arrested on suspicion of working for the Chinese government.

In Australia, it is believed that China announced a security pact with the Solomon Islands during an election campaign in 2022 to undermine the incumbent government. In April, a senior Australian minister, Karen Andrews, suggested that China had deliberately announced its security pact with the Solomon Islands during an election campaign to undermine her government's chances of reelection.

The accusation by Andrews, then home minister in the Scott Morrison government, was consistent with her conservative Liberal Party's argument that Beijing wanted the center-left Labor Party to win the May 2022 election because Labor lawmakers were less likely to stand up to Chinese economic coercion. In February 2023, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told an inquiry that Australian security agencies know China is carrying out “blatant” influence operations despite the lack of listings on the country’s transparency register.

Experts also warn that the CCP threat networks involving Chinese transnational crime and Triad groups with direct UFWD ties and Chinese intelligence ties to MSS, MPS, and PLA, are of acute risk to ASEAN states as well.

Beijing leverages business agents, diaspora communities, illicit fund flows, casinos, narcotics and weapon and animal trafficking, and prostitution networks, as purportedly legitimate investments through Belt and Road and related Chinese investment/loan programs, to leverage populations of external states to achieve objectives of extreme political influence and control over the policy of these external states.

As we see in Taiwan, Beijing is overtly attempting or threatening state capture with military means after attempting for decades to capture Taiwan. In November, tech giant Meta warned that Russian and Chinese interference networks were "building audiences" ahead of 2024.

Foreign interference groups are attempting to build and reach online audiences ahead of several significant elections next year, “and we need to remain alert," Meta said.

National elections are set to be held in the United States, United Kingdom, and India—three of the world’s largest economies—as well as in several countries that have previously been targeted by foreign interference, including Taiwan (which had its election on Jan. 13) and Moldova.

Meta released findings on three separate influence operations — two from China and one from Russia. The Chinese campaigns primarily targeted India and the Tibet region, as well as the United States. The Russian campaign — linked to employees of state-controlled media entity RT — focused on criticizing U.S. President Joe Biden for his support of Ukraine, and French President Emmanuel Macron for France’s activity in West Africa.

Sam Cooper is an award-winning investigative journalist and best-selling author, who has presented his anti-corruption findings to Canadian law enforcement agencies, officials in the Pentagon, financial and legal professionals, and academics. Cooper graduated with a degree in history, philosophy and English from the University of Toronto and a certificate in Journalism from Langara College, before reporting for The Province and Vancouver Sun in British Columbia, and Global News in Ottawa. Cooper founded The Bureau, an independent investigative reporting platform, in June 2023.

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