China’s foreign interference likely ‘widespread’ in Canada, says author of new report

Toronto Star – A comprehensive new report has mapped out the structures, methods and effects of what it calls China’s global foreign interference system.

And the report’s author tells the Star he believes such activities are “widespread” in Canada, with clues often out in the open.

The report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think-tank details how Beijing uses the United Front Work Department to stifle criticism, infiltrate foreign political parties, diaspora communities, universities and multinational corporations.

The report draws on extensive reviews of Chinese Communist Party documents, Chinese-language media articles, overseas organizations’ websites as well as photographs and posts on Chinese social media platforms including WeChat.

The United Front Work Department has been an official department of the Chinese Communist Party since 1979, when ambitious Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping tasked it to collect information from sources around the world and advance global support for the party. An earlier iteration of the United Front Work Department was first founded by the CCP in 1948, but had gone dormant.

The CCP says that United Front work is democratic, to seek consultation from people and organizations around the world, but its own documents show that the United Front agency works closely with the propaganda department as well as the ministry of state security, which is China’s intelligence agency.

In recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over an expansion of the agency that included adding 40,000 staff.

The report calls the United Front’s overseas expansion “an exportation of the CCP’s political system. Overseas United Front Work taken to its conclusion would give the CCP undue influence over political representation and expression in foreign political systems.”

The report does not cover Canada’s experience, but Alex Joske, the report’s author, shared some of his findings exclusively with the Star.


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