Foreign Affairs rejected a Chinese official's application for renewing his diplomatic visa after he was caught compiling information on Canadians who practice Falun Gong and inciting students to help him, multiple sources familiar with the issue have told The Epoch Times.
Wang Pengfei, the second secretary in the Education Office of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, left Canada before Oct. 25, when his existing visa was to expire, one source said. Wang's name no longer appears on the list of foreign representatives stationed in Canada found on the Foreign Affairs Department website, though it was listed there in September.
The sources said Wang believed his rejection was tied to his intelligence-gathering and also to his anti-Falun Gong activities, which went beyond his prescribed duties as a diplomat.
The Education Office at the Chinese embassy in Ottawa where Wang worked is a link between the embassy and Chinese students studying in Canada. According to an article Wang wrote in April 2004 in Chinese Scholars Abroad , a periodical targeting overseas Chinese students, the office oversees Chinese students' associations in 22 universities and colleges in six Canadian provinces. The office organizes the selection of leaders for the student organizations. Some student groups also rely on the embassy for funding, and they often toe the party line.
Ms. Zhang Lingdi, a former student of computer science at the University of Ottawa, believes she was a subject of Wang's spying.
On Sept. 26 of last year, Zhang received an email from Chris Xu, the vice-chair of a Chinese students' group at the university.
"The University of Ottawa Chinese Students' Association is under the direct leadership of the Education Office at the Chinese embassy in Canada," Xu wrote.
"According to reports from some students and the investigation done by the association's cadre, you are still a Falun Gong member."
Xu warned Zhang: "take care and watch out for yourself."
According to Mr. Chen Yonglin, the former first secretary at the Chinese consulate in Sydney, all overseas Chinese missions were tasked with "squeezing Falun Gong's living space."
Chen defected from his post in June 2005, saying he could no longer carry out his government's repressive policies against Falun Gong adherents and democracy activists in Australia. He testified in U.S. Congress last July about the Chinese regime's "war on Falun Gong" overseas.
Chen provided in his submission to Congress an internal memo numbered "Doc No. 106" dated Dec. 8, 1999, and marked "confidential." It was titled "Reference Material for Envoys Conference in Beijing: Overseas Battle on Falun Gong Issue."
The document said: "The battle against the Falun Gong will be our top task and [we] will continuously carry it on as a long-term operation. We will also be forward-looking and take more aggressive initiatives to strike."
It called for, among other things:
- building a list of local Falun Gong practitioners;
- strengthening anti-Falun Gong "propaganda" through multiple channels;
- working on local government and taking "proper measures to fight" officials who support Falun Gong.
"Additionally, our consulate will seek some volunteers in the local Chinese community and students to work for us in dealing with Falun Gong elements," it said.
Chen said the model for fighting Falun Gong in Australia was "exactly the same in the United States and other countries where Falun Gong is active."
Human rights groups say Falun Gong believers have been subjected to a campaign of harsh persecution in China, including torture and executions, and that the Chinese regime has waged a heavy propaganda campaign beyond China's border to quell criticism of the abuses.
Wang also rallied Chinese students in Canada to support the Chinese communist regime's repression of Falun Gong.
In his 2004 report in Chinese Scholars Abroad , Wang praised the chair of the Chinese Students Association at Université du Québec à Montréal for "the association's activities of propaganda, and its brave and clever activities against Falun Gong."
Witnesses on hand when Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao visited Canada in December 2003 say Wang was also one of two staff members of the Chinese embassy directing students to block a banner held by Falun Gong practitioners, yelling "you must block it." The banner protested the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Harper Won't 'Sell Out'
A spokesperson reached this week at Foreign Affairs could not confirm or deny the reports that Wang was sent home.
But Ottawa's relationship with the Chinese regime was under the spotlight Wednesday after a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chinese leader Hu Jintao appeared to have been called off.
The Chinese originally requested the meeting, but later cancelled it.
"I think Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide, and we do that, but I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values," Harper told reporters, signalling that the Chinese may have backed out because Canada wanted human rights on the agenda.
"[Canadians] don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar," Harper added.
Lucy Zhou, a spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association of Canada, says she is relieved to see the government take a "principled stand" that "spying and harassment by a foreign government against Canadians is not acceptable."
Zhou says Chinese embassies and consulates have used their influence in Chinese communities to marginalize Falun Gong here in Canada. Dozens have complained of harassing phone calls with recorded messages in Chinese and English demeaning Falun Gong. It's evidence, Zhou says, that they are being monitored, and she believes there are others doing the same as Wang.
A source who knew Wang Pengfei told The Epoch Times that Chinese Ambassador Lu Shumin tried to console him after he learned his visa was rejected.
But Zhou said she hopes other embassy staffers take it as a lesson.
"It's not just an issue of our group," she said. "If they can do this to us, they can do this to others, too."
Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that includes meditation, yoga-like exercises, and teachings based on tenets of truth, compassion, and tolerance. The practice was introduced in China in 1992 and was initially endorsed by the Chinese authorities, who saw it as a way to reduce health care costs and promote moral living.
But in 1999 the government estimated there were upwards of 70-100 million people practicing Falun Gong—more than the membership of the ruling Communist Party. That number upset the officially-atheist regime, which banned Falun Gong in July 1999.
With reports from the Chinese-language Epoch Times