A federal court judge has affirmed that an overseas agency of China is involved in acts of espionage that go against Canada’s interests.
“Given the evidence in the record that links OCAO to the activities described by the [Immigration Citizenship and Refugees Canada (IRCC)] Officer, it was reasonable for the Officer to conclude that there were reasonable grounds to believe that OCAO had infiltrated overseas Chinese communities in Canada and other countries and engaged in covert action and intelligence gathering,” Rochester ruled.
“Consequently, I conclude that the Officer reasonably determined that such acts by OCAO fall within the definition of espionage.”
The couple asked for a judicial review of their applications but they were dismissed by Rochester who upheld the IRCC ruling.
The judge noted Zhang was a computer technician from 1983 until 2002, at which time he was transferred to an administrative position. She wrote in her ruling that Immigration Canada noted by the time Zhang retired in 2004, he was a “chief staff member.”
Additionally in her ruling, the IRCC officer had cited legislation that prevents members of organizations that engage in espionage and harm Canada’s interests from immigrating here, and OCAC matches the requirements.
“To achieve this, qiaowu is conducted in view of two aims: to attract the OC [overseas Chinese] back into the fold of the Chinese nation-state, and to convey and project to them the nation-state agenda. Implicit in these objectives is the elimination of potential threats and rival discourses that may challenge the CCP.”
Relying on the research of To, the IRCC noted that OCAO has been involved in covert action among Chinese communities in Canada, including monitoring their activities and exercising political influence. It also works on “how to gain and consolidate trust amongst targets, how to actively manage targets and how to supervise their behaviour.”
Akshay Singh, an international affairs and security scholar, and a non-resident research fellow at the Council on International Policy, says that OCAO representatives are actually representatives of the United Front Work Department (UFWD)—the primary foreign interference tool of the Chinese regime.
“It leverages a massive system which punishes people who speak out about the Party or China in a 'negative' way and rewards those who praise it,” he said.
He said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and RCMP have both advised the federal government about the interference operations conducted by such Chinese organizations. However, politicians tend to suppress the information for fear it will affect the trade between the two countries.