Last year, a Tibetan-Canadian student received a torrent of hate mail, harassment, and death threats after she was elected president of her university’s student union.
In 2018, an official running for local office received a letter inviting him to visit China to represent his community in establishing a “friendship” with a Chinese city.
These cases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to foreign influence operations by the Chinese regime.
In this episode, we sit down with Garnett Genuis, Canada’s Shadow Minister for International Development and Human Rights and a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Garnett Genuis, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Garnett Genuis: Thank you. It’s great to be here with you as a Canadian speaking on American Thought Leaders. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and with your audience today.
Jan Jekielek: I believe your “riding” [electoral district] is in the city where I basically did my grad work many moons ago, so I’m very, very familiar with Edmonton. I think it’s actually the [former] Secretary of State David Kilgour’s old riding as well.
Mr. Genuis: Yes, I know David very well, and we’ve worked together on a lot of human rights issues. He continues to be very active. Yes, a lot of connections to that part of the world—great to see.
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett, one thing I wanted to mention before we start is you are someone who actually understood the realities of the Chinese Communist Party, I would say, well ahead of a lot of politicians here in North America—Canada or the U.S. You continue to lead the charge, I believe, in Canada as well. How did you find out about this? Where did it start?
Mr. Genuis: Thank you for that. I’ve been interested in human rights for a long time. The roots are in my own family history. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, and we grew up with an awareness of the importance of doing what we could to be voices for those who couldn’t be a voice for themselves.
When my grandmother was a child—her father was Jewish—she was hiding out in Germany. She was grateful for the fact that others who had a voice, which she didn’t [have], used their voice to call for a strong response to the kind of authoritarianism that was represented by that regime.
Frankly, there are a lot of similarities to what we have seen developing and are seeing develop within the Chinese Communist Party. [There are] concentration camps in East Turkestan, … efforts to co-opt other religious philosophies, efforts to control people through sophisticated technology. This is the sort of thing that we have seen before and are seeing again.
From my perspective, that’s the connection that has made some of these events particularly real and [has shown] the need for us to be vigilant, not waiting for the last minute to actually respond to the challenges we face, and not giving in to the kind of appeasement way of thinking. Winston Churchill, in the 1930s, spoke against appeasement, recognizing that appeasement, in his words, is like feeding a crocodile, expecting it to eat you last.
I think of that when I hear some of the voices for appeasement with the Communist Party of China. It doesn’t mean that we don’t engage in sort of principled interactions and principled engagements. But we have to do so without the kind of naiveté that I think a lot of Western leaders have had with respect to China for far too long.
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett, to your point, I believe it was last year [that] you came to my attention because you had sponsored a bill in the Canadian House of Commons about international organ trafficking, a response to the China Tribunal’s reports of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience. Whatever happened to that bill?
Mr. Genuis: Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get it passed in the last parliament. We were very, very close. Hopefully, we’ll get it done this time, but it depends on how much actual parliamentary sitting time we have. The bill itself is something I’m very committed to doing everything I can to push for. It would make it a criminal offense for someone to go from Canada abroad and receive an organ that had been harvested without the person’s consent.
The bill would also create a provision by which someone could be made inadmissible to Canada if they had been involved in organ harvesting. Essentially, it would extend extraterritorial jurisdiction over this issue. It would mean that someone could be prosecuted for something they did in another country, for something that involves organ harvesting and trafficking.
I think it would be effective in trying to raise awareness, but also in reducing the demand for harvested organs and therefore in protecting human rights. These types of bills, I hope, will be passed in many different countries. There are some that have already moved in this direction. I think if we can create more momentum around this, then more countries will move forward with similar legislation.
Mr. Jekielek: In your mind, what is the status of the reality of this murder for organs industry in China right now?
Mr. Genuis: The government of China denies that it is doing it anymore, but much of the evidence suggests that forced organ harvesting is still very much happening. And there’s some indication now that this is being expanded in terms of the victims. This was very much for a long time used to target Falun Gong practitioners, but now it looks like Uyghurs are at risk of organ harvesting and trafficking as well. It seems that we’re actually seeing the expansion of the use of this terrible form of torture to include more communities and more individuals.
Mr. Jekielek: Beyond this, what are the more egregious human rights realities in China right now? I just want to give you a chance to speak to that.
Mr. Genuis: It’s important to look at the totality of the picture. I think we see the particular impacts of the repression of the Communist Party on particular minority communities especially. I think also we need to recognize that some of that is the testing and pioneering of techniques that may be used more broadly. So many of your viewers will be aware of the genocide that’s happening, targeting Uyghur Muslims in East Turkistan, or as the government of China calls it, Xinjiang.
This is the largest mass detention of a minority since the Holocaust. That’s what Adrian Zenz called it before our Canadian parliamentary committee: “the largest mass detention of a minority since the Holocaust.” We’ve seen the images; we’ve heard the victim testimony. This is very clearly a systematic effort to eradicate the Uyghur culture, Uyghur faith, but also the Uyghur people. It involves an effort to prevent births within the group through forced sterilization, forced insertion of IUDs, forced abortion.
That is happening right now in the 21st century. We see this genocide happening. Part of the repression of Uyghurs is the use of very sophisticated technology that’s surveying every aspect of the lives of people in Uyghur areas and evaluating them according to algorithms. This is the most extreme manifestation of a system that is being rolled out across China, which is the social-credit system, a system of increased monitoring, assessing people with algorithms.
We also see in Xinjiang, in Tibet, the use of slave labor, the efforts to eradicate or co-opt the practice of religious faith. We see in Hong Kong the way in which the state has no regard for international law and … initially was trying to subtly co-opt different institutions, but now it’s just gone with a full frontal assault, and this is the manifestation of the more aggressive, impatient face of the Communist Party—less subtle, less patient maybe than the Party has been in the past in the advancement of its interests.
We see these particular flashpoints—Tibet, East Turkistan, Hong Kong, the ongoing and escalating persecution of Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, democracy activists, and others. But we also see the way in which repressive techniques are being tested and then applied more broadly. The sort of Hong Kong model of trying to infiltrate institutions and push ideas through those institutions is being deployed in other countries beyond China’s borders, around the world.
The high-tech repression that is being used in East Turkistan is being deployed in different ways in other parts of China. Increasingly, this sort of surveillance and evaluation mechanism is being promoted around the world. These are very serious human rights issues that also overlap into security issues for us and for our partners in the region and around the world.
Mr. Jekielek: Recently I’ve been seeing reports about municipal-level officials like mayors of small towns even, this sort of thing, and Canada being targeted by the United Front operations of the Chinese Communist Party. Some people find it even hard to believe. Why would the Chinese Communist Party care about this?
Mr. Genuis: It’s very clear in Canada, and I think there’s evidence that this is happening in other countries. Certainly much has been written about this in Australia and other places around the world where the Chinese Communist Party, through the United Front and Works Department, seeks to build relationships with and then eventually co-opt and control different institutions in other countries and use those institutions to achieve its own purposes. This is something that we need to really wake up to and develop unique policy frameworks to respond to.
Twenty years ago, following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, there was a need to reorient some of our security thinking to recognize that the biggest security threat was no longer a country trying to invade us directly, frontally, but it was from violent non-state actors inflicting acts of terrorism upon Western nations. In response to that, new legislative frameworks had to be developed. New ways of thinking about security had to be developed for responding to it.
While some of these conventional as well as terrorist threats are still with us, now I think the biggest security threat that we face is this kind of strategic co-opting and elite capture and control, the kind of—to use the words of Clive Hamilton—silent invasion that it is, from state actors this time. It’s in particular China, but other states try to influence the direction of our democratic politics as well, taking advantage of the open society that we have to try and co-opt and control our institutions and make them subject to the direction of the Communist Party through the United Front, through influence in those institutions.
Various experts, committees, have sounded the alarm on this. We’ve heard about this at the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. We have an intelligence review committee of parliamentarians in Canada that’s responsible for providing oversight to the actions of the government with respect to intelligence. They occasionally put out reports, generally heavily redacted, but with some information for the public.
The latest report really sounded the alarm on the fact that we are a target for foreign interference, and we are not really as wise to that as we should be, and we need to develop strong, new mechanisms for responding to foreign state interference. It’s not easy. It’s not easy for open societies to respond to these kinds of invisible threats, in the same way that it’s not easy for open societies to respond to terrorists.
We need to think about it with that same level of intensity and seriousness because although it’s not as visible, it is a real and pressing and urgent threat to our way of life when our municipalities, our universities, private companies, community organizations, political parties can be co-opted and pushed and pulled to serve the interests of a foreign power—interests and values that are hostile to our own.
You mentioned the case of municipal mayors who may be subject to this influence. I think there’s a need for a broader recognition of the risk, more education, a recognition of the fact that elites at every level are subject to efforts at this kind of co-opting, whether it’s school boards, small town mayors, university presidents, individual members of Parliament. There’s a lot of attempt at this kind of influence, and I think it’s so important for people in the free world, in every country at every level, to develop greater awareness about this.
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett, I’m also hearing reports about the harassment of Chinese-Canadians, not just in one case, but multiple cases, as being routine. I’m wondering if you could speak to that, explain what’s going on, if I’m correct here, and what the problem is.
Mr. Genuis: This is part of the foreign-influence operations that we see, where people who are speaking out about issues in a way that the Communist Party of China doesn’t like, those people are likely to be subject to forms of harassment or intimidation that may well, in all probability does, have its roots in the strategic planning of the Communist Party.
This is something that comes up routinely when human rights advocates are presenting before parliamentary committees. They will of course identify the challenges that are happening in China itself, but then they will also share about how people raising awareness about these issues—whether it’s from the Uyghur community, the Tibetan community, the ethnic Chinese community, or people from other backgrounds—see cases of the effort to intimidate Canadians in Canada on Canadian soil.
Some prominent examples of this followed, for instance, the election of Chemi Lhamo as the president of the U of T–Scarborough Students’ Union. She’s a Tibetan lady, and she faced an orchestrated campaign of harassment.
There was a group of students at McMaster University around the same time from a group called Muslims for Peace and Justice that was organizing a discussion about the situation of Uyghurs.
They faced—what came out was a clear discussion in coordination with the Chinese Consulate in Toronto—people suggesting that that event be monitored to identify if any university officials went, if any Chinese nationals went, with the implication that if Chinese nationals were at that event, they would be identified and that there might be retaliation against them or their families.
These are significant issues, and I know Amnesty International has done a report on it as well, calling for the government to step up and do more to protect people in Canada from this kind of intimidation.
Mr. Jekielek: This reminds me very much of a similar situation in New York City maybe 10 years ago, for over many months, where there were coordinated attempts in the Chinese community against the Falun Gong practitioners. This sort of thing has been happening all along. Now, it’s coming out into the forefront. How is the Canadian government or the police and so forth dealing with this? And what can others learn?
Mr. Genuis: Amnesty International did a great report on this, and they identify that there wasn’t a very effective response at the moment. We need to really explore these issues and develop new frameworks for responding more effectively, especially on these issues of foreign interference and threatening of activists here in Canada.
Amnesty International has documented that people who are experiencing this really have a hard time finding the right place to go, and very often they have an experience of getting passed back and forth between different police forces or different agencies.
I think a first step would be to provide more direct, more focused support to individuals who are victims of this kind of intimidation and have a kind of a mechanism for the investigation of these issues, where victims can access that information and support and where the people they’re interacting with actually have the understanding and the capacity to respond to these threats.
It also comes down to political strength and will. When you have foreign diplomats who are demonstrably involved in intimidation of Canadians and encouraging even the monitoring of events to track who was at the event in a way that carries a threat of possible intimidation or follow-up against them or their families, those diplomats should not be allowed to remain in Canada.
Their job here is not to be scoping out the activities of diaspora communities. Very clearly, their job is to be interacting in an open and consensual way with people who want to interact with them to talk about their perspective on different issues. I think we could take a firmer line and have a zero-tolerance policy for these kinds of acts of interference, as well as ensuring that there’s a mechanism of support and facilitation of actions when victims are looking for somewhere to come forward to.
Mr. Jekielek: This is really fascinating, and I think this is, [as] you highlight here, one of the biggest challenges in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression over the last 15 to 20-odd years. Basically, we’re just not familiar with these methods of aggression, and we don’t have the mechanisms in Western democratic societies to deal with them very effectively. It’s really only perhaps in the last five years that these have started developing. What in this vein have you developed in Canada? Is there anything that can be passed on to other countries to deal with this idea?
Mr. Genuis: I think there are things that we definitely can do. In Canada, our Parliament has been very effective at putting some of these issues forward. But our current government has, in my view, been behind on addressing these issues. I think Canada may not have the examples to follow when it comes to combating foreign interference.
I think Australia is doing some really interesting things in terms of tracking and responding to foreign interference. There are other models that at least those of us in opposition are looking to, to say, “Are these things that we can put forward and apply to the Canadian context?” I think you’re right to point out—not that we don’t have the capacity to respond to these things as free societies, I think we do—but [that] we have to develop our understanding of how the Chinese communist system works and how it is different from our system, but also how it’s different from a lot of people’s perception of what communism is.
A lot of people’s perception of communism is that it is a very blatant state ownership of everything and clear direction to all of the organs of the state. The way the Chinese communist system works is that you have facially private companies, facially independent institutions that do appear to be doing different kinds of things.
But then behind what you see externally, you have the Chinese Communist Party, which is seeking to infiltrate and control and does control all of these different facially independent institutions within society. So you have private companies, which have Party committees that ultimately can set the direction. So it’s one thing to speak of Chinese state-owned companies, but even other private Chinese companies very often have clear direction from Party committees, and they’re working on applications that can then be transferred and applied for military applications.
There’s a whole kind of integration between “officially,” or facially independent, but not actually independent institutions. So when you have certain actors, friendship associations for example, in other countries, those things might look as if they are simply on their own, [as if] they’re an independent entity over here. But there very often is some integration between that association and other bodies—the sharing of information, the sharing of intelligence, and so forth.
We assume, because things look independent, that the system is like ours, where you have a separation. In Western rule-of-law society, separation of institutions is a core value. You have church and state, military and civilian, legislative-executive, private-public. But we have to understand that that separation doesn’t exist in the same way in the Chinese system. So we have to understand that what we think we’re dealing with may not be what we’re actually dealing with if it’s an entity with some affiliation with the Communist Party.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re part of this Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, global in reach, and you’ve had a chance to speak with all sorts of congressional members in the U.S., parliamentarians in other Western democracies, and other countries that are interested in this question. How far along are we, in your view, overall, in understanding this reality of the Chinese Communist Party that you just described?
Mr. Genuis: The legislators who are involved in the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China are very far along in their understandings, and we have good discussions among legislators at that level. It is encouraging to see that it’s now possible—with a growing global awareness of the challenge that is presented by the Chinese Communist Party—that you have a cross-party and multinational association of legislators from the Left and the Right in many countries around the world, the Five Eyes as well as many European partners. Japan is involved.
The partnerships are real and strong and important. I think the next step would be to try to build a similar partnership among governments. This is an alliance of legislators. I think the next step is to have an alliance of governments working together on these issues. There is growing awareness, but I think sometimes the politicians are actually less aware than everyday people. Everyday people who follow these events intuitively understand the need we have to protect our countries.
Sometimes for elites, it gets muddier. There are competing personal interests sometimes. There are competing interests, [such as] this is the way it’s been done in the past, or a desire to have amicable relations with other countries around the world. You see, actually a lot of the [inaudible] that there can be an elite-popular disconnect, where people are waking up to these problems, but politicians have been slower to respond.
Mr. Jekielek: This Inter-Parliamentary Alliance is something that at least some Americans might view with some suspicion. In general, there seems to be a suspicion of multilateral organizations. In the U.S., we recently pulled out of the WHO for fears it was co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party itself. What can an inter-parliamentary alliance like this accomplish?
Mr. Genuis: I’m a big believer in the importance of principled multilateralism, that is, countries with shared values and shared objectives working together to advance those objectives. No one country, even a large and powerful country like the United States, can be as effective alone as it is when it’s sharing information and best practices with other countries.
There are maybe partnerships and initiatives that other countries can do more effectively than the United States, and there may be things similarly that the United States can do more effectively than other countries. Sharing information, working together on shared interests and shared values is very worthwhile. It’s been key to American engagement in the world for really most of the 20th century, at least in terms of American foreign policy—working together with allies to defeat communism, to defeat fascism, in the Cold War and the Second World War previously.
America played a key role, but did so in partnership with other nations that brought important competencies and contributions. I would make a distinction, though, between principled multilateralism and a kind of a promiscuous multilateralism that some, especially on the Left, will champion, which is a kind of multilateralism for its own sake, a go-along with anyone and everyone just for the sake of being with other countries and being seen to be with other countries.
I think that kind of multilateralism for multilateralism’s sake thinking is wrongheaded. I think it misses opportunities to achieve what should be the goods, the objectives of multilateralism, which is to advance shared values and shared interests.
My pitch to American leaders is always to recognize the benefits of principled multilateralism as an important tool for putting forward shared values and shared interests, but similarly to what I tell people in other countries, multilateralism has to be oriented toward a purpose other than just getting along and having warm interactions with other diplomats at cocktail parties.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China is a great example of principled multilateralism, of nations working together to respond to a common challenge. I do think we need more mechanisms of principled multilateralism, especially to collectively push back against what is the government of China’s efforts to co-opt multilateral organizations.
We see efforts by the government of China to redefine norms around, for instance, human rights through their active engagement in international human rights bodies. Some of the worst violators of human rights are engaged, particularly, with human rights discussions and activities through the U.N. because they want to protect themselves and point the finger elsewhere. So recognizing that, we can engage in principled multilateralism, which is to counter the efforts of human rights-abusing states in those kinds of forums.
Mr. Jekielek: A fellow Canadian, J. Michael Cole, has documented this type of co-opting or deep influence in the U.N. I think he doesn’t argue withdrawing either, but the question is, if these institutions aren’t truly multilateral anymore, how is it possible to use them?
Mr. Genuis: After the Second World War, it was a group of like-minded countries that championed setting up a series of institutions that have come to have real power and real influence. Those institutions provide an opportunity for engagement, collective action, and for the advancement of shared values.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is foundational to the U.N. system, and it’s something that is certainly much more aligned with the political systems that we have—for instance, Canada, the United States, but many other countries—much more aligned with those kinds of systems than is the system in China. We have this multilateral system that is, that has been, at least up until now, wired to align with values that are universal human values, but are ones that our countries recognize and appreciate.
I think it would be a big mistake to abandon the international system to control by hostile actors because it would weaken our ability to have a collective response to what actors like the government of China are doing. When we work through multilateral bodies to establish and really hammer in international rules and norms, I think we have more credibility, and we can build broader coalitions for pushing back.
Ultimately, it serves all of our interests to be able to have a rules-based system and to work together. Let’s not be naive, though. I think sometimes when politicians talk about preserving the international rules-based system, they ignore just how far we’ve gone from an international rules-based system, [to] where we are today.
We have to recognize the reality of just how challenged the international rule-based system is. But we still benefit from working together collaboratively to push back against these threats, and also to build up, and in some cases, new multilateral infrastructure that is better aligned with the realities, the challenges, and the needs of the present.
Mr. Jekielek: In your mind, right now, what is the single most important thing that needs to be dealt with vis-à-vis Communist China?
Mr. Genuis: My advice to my own country, to my own government, is that we need urgently to act to protect ourselves, that our ability to confront what is happening on a whole range of fronts depends on our ability to have independent democratic debate that isn’t shaped through foreign influence, our ability to dialogue and share information with each other, to have a genuine politics without people being co-opted, being intimidated, being subject to other forms of influence.
Moving on these issues of foreign interference by state or state-backed actors coming from China or elsewhere is really an urgent priority because it allows us to preserve our way of life, but also because it allows us to do everything else.
We can’t move on any other fronts if we aren’t taking seriously the risks of co-optation and control from abroad. That’s the first step, and linked to it is our defense of human rights, our efforts to confront areas of strategic dependency, ensuring that we’re not strategically dependent for key products and key industries on nations that have contrary interests—and I should say nations, governments, that have contrary interests and contrary values.
That would be the way I would suggest we start to prioritize a response. In Canada as well, we have something called the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations. This is unique to this Parliament.
My advice to legislators around the world is to look for opportunities to set up similar forums, committees of legislators that are dedicated to looking at the relationship between China and their country and doing so in a way that is broad and multidisciplinary, that’s looking at the impact of the Chinese Communist Party across a range of different areas, different policy areas, different facets of life.
Looking at that kind of broad impact in a way that has a lens informed by the strategic agenda of China is very important and has been very effective in terms of bringing these debates to the fore and creating the momentum to push for further action.
Mr. Jekielek: Because of coronavirus, COVID, or actually the CCP virus, as we call it at The Epoch Times, a lot of these Communist Party of China activities—for example, the encroachment on Hong Kong, and … even though these have gotten much broader media attention, the situation in Xinjiang and Tibet, and to a lesser extent, the Falun Gong situation—[are] again under the radar to some extent.
Mr. Genuis: Yes, I think we’ve seen how, in the midst of COVID-19, there have been escalating violations of human rights around the world as various nations have tried to seize on a sense of people being distracted or focused on their own affairs. That’s a real problem. But I think in the case of the PRC, it’s been a miscalculation because the origins of COVID-19 are, of course, leading people to ask more questions about what the government of China is up to.
That has opened up conversations that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. At one time, people might have said, “Well, what’s happening over there doesn’t really matter to me over here.” But it’s quite clear when you have a global pandemic that became global as a result, in large part, I think, of the intentional suppression of information and discussion in the early days when the virus was coming out.
There wasn’t a transparency or an effort to openly reckon with what was happening. Instead, there was an intentional effort, for instance, on Chinese social media to suppress discussion of the virus while it was breaking out. As a result of that, there is more public awareness already in terms of what’s happening with China—and then that compounded with new revelations about East Turkistan, about Tibet, the imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong.
The government of China is clearly moving very quickly, and that is catalyzing a global response. You see with groups like IPAC, the question is, how will our reaction exactly be calibrated, and how effective will it be?
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett, before we finish up, I want to talk about one of these areas that’s very much under the radar, so to speak, and very rarely discussed, but actually quite important, especially to Canada, but also to the United States and beyond, and Russia itself, I think as well. It’s the Arctic, and the CCP’s intentions and actions vis-à-vis the Arctic. I know this is something of great interest to you. Can you speak to that, please?
Mr. Genuis: Yes, the Arctic is critical for Canada’s security. You’re right, it’s an area where the United States, Russia, and Denmark, and other European nations have a stake as well. I think the Chinese engagement in the Arctic really shows the way the government of China expects to be everywhere.
They’ve now identified themselves as a near-Arctic power, which is, as far as I can tell, a sort of a meaningless concept. Essentially, it’s just an assertion of a right to be part of conversations that … they shouldn’t really be intruding on. I think that this just speaks to the need for situational awareness everywhere, for a stronger cooperation between Canada and the U.S. in terms of joint security.
It’s one challenge between Canada and the United States that there’s still dispute about issues of sovereignty in the Arctic. This is an area where I think we do need a resolution because, at least speaking from a Canadian perspective, the principles around the law of the sea, around some of these territorial issues and how they’re resolved, are important to Canada, but they also have implications for our ability to push back against China’s claims in the South China Sea.
I think we should work together as much as possible to collaborate and resolve these issues and to push back against the intrusion into our shared Arctic space by hostile forces such as the efforts at encroachment by the Chinese government.
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett, you mentioned the South China Sea, and as you were talking about the Arctic, I was actually imagining the Chinese Communist Party doing in the Arctic precisely what it did in the South China Sea, which is to build artificial islands and then imply that this is their land, and they’ve been there all along, and therefore they control the waterways. Your thoughts?
Mr. Genuis: I think things that maybe seemed far-fetched five years ago do not seem as far-fetched today, and things that might seem far-fetched today might not in the future. Certainly as Canadians, we take Arctic sovereignty very seriously, and I think it’s in the interests of all of our partners to collaborate with us.
Canada and the U.S. have a very important partnership around NORAD, around a shared North American security. … We don’t always agree on everything, but we work well together. I think that is important. With the Arctic opening up, with potential for new shipping lanes and natural resources, it just becomes so, so important that we are recognizing what China is up to, what Russia is up to, and that we’re protecting our collective security.
Mr. Jekielek: If there are any Canadians watching who are being harassed and threatened in the type of way that we described earlier, what should they do?
Mr. Genuis: I think they should call the police. They should call the police right away. I hope that … they will be able to get a strong and effective response from police in terms of assisting them and directing them. Frankly speaking, unfortunately, that hasn’t always been people’s experience. But I would certainly encourage engaging law enforcement right away when these sorts of things happen.
Mr. Jekielek: For those people who didn’t get that response, what should they do?
Mr. Genuis: I think there are some human rights organizations that have been following up and engaging on these issues. When there are policy issues at play or people need help navigating the federal government, of course, you can always contact your local members of Parliament. Our office is available to try to support people in different situations who are having trouble engaging the government. But I would say again, on criminal matters, matters that involve threats, harassment, intimidation, your first step is definitely to engage law enforcement.
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett Genuis, any final words before we finish up?
Mr. Genuis: I think one piece of this that’s really, really important is that the government of China and some voices in the West as well would like to characterize the increasing ideological competition as being a clash of civilizations, a clash between Western civilization and Chinese civilization. I think that’s just so clearly dead wrong. It’s something we need to counter.
What we see in Chinese civilization is such a richness and a beauty, and indeed, a flowering of democracy in places like Taiwan that have that same route in Chinese history, Chinese philosophy, Chinese culture. What the Communist Party has represented is an effort to destroy that ancient culture, and then now, belatedly, to co-opt some of the iconography without appreciating the depth and the substance of it.
It’s so important for those of us who happen to be in the West, but who really see ourselves as allies of the Chinese people in their efforts to live out their values and their traditions and to seek freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—it’s important for us to be [allies] and to clearly speak as allies of the Chinese people, people who are the first victims of the Chinese Communist Party, and to push back against this narrative that this is somehow a clash of civilizations.
This isn’t a clash of civilizations. People of all backgrounds desire freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, respect for their fundamental freedoms, their human dignity. These things are the birthright of all human beings.
I’m going to continue to be a strong advocate for the Chinese people, for the true China that the Communist Party seeks to repress and hold back. I look forward to an era of potential future greater global partnership when the Chinese people are able to be free and to express themselves and to have their fundamental human rights protected.
Mr. Jekielek: Garnett Genuis, such a pleasure to have you on.
Mr. Genuis: Thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.