On April 29, CBC News published an article critical of a recent Epoch Times special edition distributed to areas across Canada. With the front-page headline “How the Chinese Communist Party Endangered the World,” the eight-page issue contained a collection of articles on how Beijing’s coverup of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan led to the global pandemic.
The article quoted a resident of Kelowna who worried the special edition was “racist and inflammatory” because of its criticism of the Chinese regime, and “seemed to allude to conspiracy theories” for suggesting that the virus may have originated in a Chinese lab.
These concerns are widely overblown, and the article questions the journalistic integrity of Canada’s national broadcaster.
Start with the lab. On the surface it sounds like a social media conspiracy theory: that the virus that causes COVID-19 came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, either deliberately or accidentally. But given that the United States has launched an investigation into the lab link, and with the U.K., Australia, and EU calling for an international probe into the origin of the outbreak, the theory has earned its place in mainstream discourse. These investigations may indeed end inconclusively, but their occurrence alone demonstrates that the theory could use some critical media examination, rather than being relegated to the status of “just another conspiracy theory.”
More problematic is the CBC’s insinuation, in a paraphrase before quoting the Kelowna resident, that the special issue’s “anti-Communist Party messaging could inflame racial tensions in Canada during the pandemic.”
Criticism of governments and holding them to account, both in Canada and abroad, is the core purpose of an independent press and is why democratic societies hold the Fourth Estate in such high esteem. It is deeply worrying that the CBC is backing away from carrying out such journalistic scrutiny when it comes to the Chinese regime.
After all, it is now known that the virus’s origin and early spread were covered up by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which censored whistleblower doctors, imprisoned journalists, and spread disinformation—all while bullying and levying attacks against countries that criticized it, like the United States, Australia, and Taiwan. This is why saying that the CCP endangered the world is a fair and accurate claim. Muting such criticism for fear of causing offence is a violation of journalistic responsibility and is fundamentally un-Canadian.
Labelling criticism of the CCP as racist is music to the ears of communist propagandists. The Party has successfully exploited Canadians’ instinctive politeness by declaring all its critics to be “racist.” They equate the Party, the country, and the people all as Chinese—even those Chinese-Canadians who have never lived in China, or who fled to avoid persecution. Critics of the Party are instantly labelled as racist—a strategy designed to avoid scrutiny, deflect accountability, and turn the blame upon critics.
We should see equating criticism with racism for what it is: nonsense.
Our oversensitivity to racism comes from a deep-rooted Canadian desire to do right by our neighbours—especially at a time when discrimination against Asian-Canadians is rising because of the pandemic.
But we should not forget that some of the sharpest critics of the Chinese Communist Party are Chinese immigrants, including the founders of The Epoch Times. I can think of few things more racist than assuming that Chinese-Canadians must be supportive of the repressive and authoritarian ruling regime in their home country.
Alex Ra Lee is director of strategy and policy at Alliance Canada Hong Kong, a collective that mobilizes and empowers Hong Kong-Canadians to take political action. ACHK stands in support of all communities who are also suffering from the tyranny of the Chinese Communist Party, and invites Canadians to join their online campaign.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.