Chinese Spy Defector Shares New Info on Dissident Whose ‘Mysterious’ Death in Canada Was Cited as a Warning

Chinese Spy Defector Shares New Info on Dissident Whose ‘Mysterious’ Death in Canada Was Cited as a Warning
A Chinese paramilitary police officer stands guard outside the Australian Embassy in Beijing on Feb. 5, 2024. (Pedro Pardo/AFP)
Andrew Chen
5/18/2024
Updated:
5/22/2024
0:00

A former Chinese spy has revealed new information about the Chinese regime’s targeting of a Chinese dissident who died in British Columbia in 2022.

While the RCMP says the death was not suspicious, it was raised as a warning last year to another exiled Chinese activist now living in Toronto. The warning was conveyed in a phone call between the activist and one of his friends in China, whom the activist said was under pressure from Chinese police and described the death as being “under mysterious circumstances.”

The former spy, identified only as Eric, who defected to Australia last year, spoke to Australia’s ABC News “Four Corners“ program in a May 14 interview. He said he was involved in multiple tasks and missions between 2008 and early 2023 as an undercover agent for the Political Security Protection Bureau, or 1st Bureau, a secret unit of China’s Ministry of Public Security.

The 39-year-old said the missions were aimed at surveilling, abducting, and silencing members of the Chinese diaspora around the world.

One of Eric’s targets was Hua Yong, an artist and a longtime critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) originally from Beijing. Mr. Hua later died in Canada while kayaking on a cold autumn night, as officially reported by police.

Before eventually settling in British Columbia, Mr. Hua sought refuge in Bangkok, Thailand, after filming Beijing’s mass evictions of migrant workers in 2017 and posting his videos online. Eric  says he was sent to Thailand to deal with him.

‘Maybe He’d Been Killed’

Eric was given cover as the manager of a local hotel group with aspirations to overthrow the CCP. He and Mr. Hua bonded over this shared ideal and discussed setting up a pro-democracy group overseas, ABC News reported.

Eric’s handlers helped him carry out his idea of creating a fake anti-CCP online persona and making revolutionary videos in order to get closer to Mr. Hua.

The ABC News program showed a short segment from a video in which Eric appeared, in the Thai jungle, dressed in militia uniform and posing as spokesperson of a militia group called “V Brigade.” In the video, he is heard urging Chinese citizens to prepare for armed resistance against the CCP.

Mr. Hua promoted the video on his Twitter and YouTube accounts.

In April 2021, Mr. Hua was granted a temporary protection visa by Canada, but he maintained close contact with Eric. Eric told ABC News that he subsequently provided a detailed intelligence report to his handler that included Mr. Hua’s phone number, address, places he went, and people he met.

Mr. Hua eventually went to live in Gibsons, a coastal community in southwestern B.C., a short 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver. Then one day in November 2022, over a year after arriving in Canada and four months after coming to Gibsons, Mr. Hua was found dead, having drowned in what Canadian authorities concluded was a kayaking accident.

Eric, for his part, told ABC News: “My first reaction was that maybe he'd been killed. But in fact, I couldn’t tell whether his death was just an accident or a murder, because I wasn’t part of it. I also knew little about it. All I could say is that Mr Hua had been a long-term target of the secret police.”

RCMP Staff Sergeant Kris Clark upholds the findings of the force’s investigation.

“Investigations are led by the evidence and I can assure you that a thorough investigation has been completed. There was nothing to suggest this death was suspicious, despite the concerns expressed by those who were not involved in the investigation,” he wrote in an email to The Epoch Times on May 17.

The Epoch Times reached out to Eric but didn’t hear back immediately.

A Warning to Others

Chen Siming, a Chinese activist who fled to Canada last year, says Mr. Hua’s case was mentioned by a contact while conveying CCP threats against him.
Mr. Chen faced repression due to his longstanding opposition to the Beijing regime and his advocacy for a democratic China. He fled China in July 2023, travelling through Laos and Thailand before reaching Taiwan. On Dec. 30, 2023, he made a post on the X platform expressing gratitude for the assistance from Taiwan. In his post, he also rooted for a Taiwanese party that has taken a tough stance on relations with Beijing in Taiwan’s January 2024 election.
Following his post, Mr. Chen received a call from a friend in China who he said had been asked to relay threatening messages from Chinese public security officials, Mr. Chen told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times in an interview in January.

During the phone call, the friend advised Mr. Chen to moderate his criticism of the CCP and its leadership “so as not to end up like Hua Yong, dying under mysterious circumstances.”

In a new interview on May 17, Mr. Chen said he was unsure whether the mention of Mr. Hua’s death was also part of the threatening messages issued by the Chinese state security.

“If Chinese public security officials indeed had the intention to covey the case as a threat, it would be expressed in a nuanced way as they don’t want to leave any evidence behind,” he told The Epoch Times in Chinese.

Asked about the new information disclosed by Eric regarding the targeting of the deceased dissident, Mr. Chen expressed “mixed feelings” about the case. He said he is unable to fully believe that Mr. Hua’s death was an accident, yet he cannot challenge the RCMP’s conclusion.

Chinese activist Chen Siming in Toronto on Nov. 28, 2023. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)
Chinese activist Chen Siming in Toronto on Nov. 28, 2023. (Michelle Hu/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Chen had obtained political asylum from Canada and arrived in early October 2023. However, his family in China continues to face harassment. He said that in the past month, police have harassed his sister in China to seek information about him.

“I do not recognize the legitimacy of the People’s Republic of China, whose foundation was backed by the Soviet Union. However, as a so-called ‘government,’ the regime’s use of such despicable measures—seeking to control, suppress, and silence dissenters abroad by threatening their family members back in China—is truly disgraceful,” he said on May 17.

Michelle Hu contributed to this report.