Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Beijing is always watching

**Chinese-Canadians say spies have been monitoring and intimidating them**

Is Communist China stifling dissident voices ahead of the Games (more so than usual) ? One more reason to boycott the Games.

MacLeans: May 14, 2007 - The Taiwanese community, Tibetan Canadians and Falun Gong practitioners have all reported incidents of spying or intimidation to federal authorities in the past five years. And while Ottawa has reportedly issued stern warnings to the Chinese embassy, nothing seems to work. With the 2008 Summer Games in the offing, some critics believe Beijing is actually ramping up covert activities against Canadian-based dissident groups to help mute criticism of its human rights record during the Olympics.

Those anxieties rose further in March when Jiyan Zhang, an accountant who worked at the embassy and the wife of a Chinese diplomat, told reporters that staff there had formed a special unit to collect information on groups like the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong. Zhang, herself a practitioner of Falun Gong, also smuggled out a document suggesting that the embassy had mobilized a letter-writing campaign to the CRTC in hopes of scuttling the licence application of a Chinese-language TV station it considered anti-Communist. Her husband has been sent home to China in disgrace, but Zhang, who's now claimed refugee status, has kept up her offensive. "I just hope to show that the Chinese embassy was doing bad things," she told the Ottawa Citizen. "I wanted to reveal their lies."

Not everyone, however, is feeling so brave when it comes to tweaking Beijing. Several Chinese expatriates who last week recounted harrowing tales of threats and intimidation asked not to be identified in Maclean's for fear of reprisals against relatives they left behind. Others worried about their own safety -- though there are no known incidents of violence by Beijing's agents on Canadian soil. Nearly all agreed that Canadians need to be better informed about the espionage going on inside their own borders.

Uyghurs, in particular, have been feeling vulnerable in recent months. The surprise arrest of Huseyin Celil, the Burlington, Ont., imam who was sentenced to life in a Chinese prison last month, reminded many how closely Beijing follows their movements. (more)
OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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