OTTAWA—A former staffer from the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office has said “reporters” from Chinese propaganda agencies were spying on and monitoring Prime Minister Steven Harper during the past Arctic trips. The two reporters have been banned from further travel with the Prime Minister this year.
Prime Minister Steven Harper’s annual week-long Arctic trip started with a visit to the city of Whitehorse in Yukon Province on Thursday.
Among the media that accompany Harper on this trip, a reporter each from the Chinese Xinhua news agency and People’s Daily who were on the trip last year are missing.
According to the Toronto Sun, reporters from China’s state-run news outlets posted in Canada are banned from traveling with Prime Minister this year. The Prime Minister’s former press secretary, Ms. Sara MacIntyre, went on Sun News Network on Aug. 19 and explained why.
“These aren’t reporters, they work for a state media agency, a propaganda agency, and the Prime Minister’s Office said they are not qualified to come as media, which is entirely appropriate.” said MacIntyre.
MacIntyre said a Chinese daily reporter collected intelligence information on Harper, including his security details, his staff and the interior of his plane during some of Harper’s past Arctic trips.
“During our last Arctic visit, we have a Chinese daily ‘reporter,’ who was taking pictures of the cockpit griffin, who was taking pictures of Prime Minister’s police details, who was taking pictures of me and all of the staff, as opposed to the landscape and the photo op that was designed to be participated in”, said MacIntyre.
MacIntyre said that members of media should be outraged that “reporters” from Chinese propaganda agency “use the guise of freedom of expression and reporting to spy on Canadians and Canadian politicians.”
Former Asia-Pacific bureau chief for CSIS Michel Juneau-Katsuya pointed out that these Chinese reporters working for Chinese state-controlled media are often suspected by western intelligence services as undercover agents collecting intelligence information for Chinese security. “They are actually working for security services as intelligence officers and they are using that cover to go around the world,” said Juneau-Katsuya.
“Their behavior is also a form of bullying, which is a well-known strategy by Chinese government officials in order to force their way and intimidate people on how China behaves and how China thinks,” said Juneau-Katsuyas.