Bob Dechert, MP for Mississauga-Erindale (Parliament of Canada)
A Conservative MP has apologized for sending “flirtatious” emails to a Canada-based female reporter with the Chinese state-owned media agency Xinhua.
Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs and MP for Mississauga-Erindale, said in a statement that he met the reporter, Shi Rong, while doing Chinese-language media communications. Dechert is also a vice-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association, which aims to “encourage better understanding and closer ties between the two countries.”
David Harris, a terrorism expert and former chief of strategic planning for CSIS , Canada’s intelligence agency, says there is “an outline in this situation that is very disturbing, and that might seem familiar to intelligence specialists.”
“We know that political, industrial, and other personalities must be on their guard against the long-recognized Chinese government’s use of attractive men and women to compromise, pressure, and otherwise manipulate them,” Harris says.
“If there should be a credible suggestion of improper proximity of a government official, whether bureaucratic or political, with an associate or employee of Xinhua, this would be a matter demanding vigorous investigation by our authorities.”
Xinhua, the official press agency of the Chinese regime, plays a key role in the system of propaganda and censorship put in place by the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S.-based global intelligence company Stratfor has said the agency has historically been a “major cover” for the Chinese Ministry of State Security officers and agents.
Harris says Xinhua has “various intelligence functions” on behalf of the Chinese regime, and some of its journalists are thought to operate as intelligence collectors.
“In effect an aspect of Xinhua is to serve as a front for Chinese intelligence.”
Harris says the requirement to explore the security concerns are in line with the “well-taken concerns expressed by CSIS director Richard Fadden concerning attempts by China and its minions to infiltrate, penetrate, and manipulate Canadian policy and decision makers.”
Last year, Fadden warned that some Canadian politicians are suspected of being under the influence of a foreign regime and alluded to China as the most aggressive country in the effort to gain influence.
The emails between Dechert and Shi were released to a large number of people, including journalists, on Thursday night.
“My understanding is that her emails were hacked as part of an ongoing domestic dispute,” Dechert said.
He insisted that although the emails were “flirtatious,” the “friendship remained innocent and simply that—a friendship.”
In one of the emails cited by media reports, Dechert writes from his Parliament Hill account email to Shi: “You are so beautiful. I really like that picture of you by the water with your cheeks puffed. That look is so cute. I love it when you do that. Now, I miss you even more.”
In another email, he tells Shi that as he drove to Ottawa, “I enjoyed the drive by thinking of you.”
According to the biography posted on his website, Dechert is married.
The Globe and Mail reported that Shi has said it was her husband who hacked into her account to reveal the emails.
Duped by Chinese Operatives
Fadden said last year that some politicians and public servants have a long-standing relationship with Chinese operatives without knowing they are being used to advance the interests of the Chinese regime.
In an interview with The Epoch Times last year, Rob Anders , MP for Calgary West, said that the extent of the Chinese regime’s influence goes beyond what Fadden has said.
“I would argue that I’ve seen things happen on a federal level as well in our own government. And so I think there’s a lot more than he has even mentioned,” he said.
Anders said China uses attractive young women and lucrative business deals to gain influence over politicians and ministerial staff.
Former Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin who defected to Australia revealed that China uses “honeytraps” to entrap Western politicians, including one Australian official who Chen said was forced to advocate for the regime’s interests after being snared in a honeytrap.
Then-deputy mayor of London Ian Clement was seduced and robbed of important information regarding London’s operations when he travelled to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. This happened on the heels of an incident involving an aide to the British prime minister, who suffered from a similar predicament a week before.