UBC graduate student concerned about potential Chinese interference in municipal elections – BC

Allegations that a foreign entity is trying to influence elections may seem like an American phenomenon, but a UBC graduate student thinks it’s happening in Canada, and particularly in the Vancouver mayoral race.

« I can feel that’s the case here in Vancouver, » Billy Fung told Global News, pointing to China as the likely player.

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« From my research, I realized that the media (is) one of the tools used by the Chinese Communist Party to influence the election venues. »

Now a graduate student at UBC, the former Hong Kong resident recently completed a master’s degree at the University of London, where he described what he said was Beijing’s playbook.

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He said the party seeks to influence the overseas Chinese diaspora community by using Chinese-language media to leverage nationalist sentiments for policy outcomes it sees as most beneficial.

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“Some of the overseas Chinese may have limited English literacy,” he said.

Fung said Vancouver’s incumbent mayor Kennedy angered Beijing by talking about a « city of friendship » deal with Taiwan, and earlier this summer CSIS reports informed local politicians of the China had made the headlines.

« It’s easy to sway a very high percentage of voters, just by using false information and misinformation, » former Conservative MP for Richmond-Steveston East Kenny Chiu told Global News.

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Chiu believes his defeat in the 2021 federal election was partly due to positions he took that Beijing disliked, leading to attacks on him in influential local Chinese-language media.

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“For this, I was called a traitor, a sellout and also an anti-Chinese, a Chinese hater,” he said.

Global News was unable to reach anyone at the Chinese Consulate within the time constraints.

The leading candidates in Vancouver had a range of responses.

Mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart’s campaign declined to comment, Ken Sim’s campaign said it was confident the RCMP and CSIS were aware of the matter, and Colleen Hardwick said she was concerned of any country that tries to interfere.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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