Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden could very soon find himself out of a job, after a parliamentary committee last week said he was responsible for fostering “a climate of suspicion.”
Fadden’s troubles began when he alleged during an interview in June last year that federal and municipal politics were the object of foreign interference and that Chinese embassy and consulate officials had helped fund protests against the Canadian government.
No sooner had the words left his mouth than Chinese officials and the parliamentary opposition accused Fadden of lying.
Not only had Fadden created suspicion, the committee concluded, he had also “plant[ed] doubt about the integrity” of elected officials and Chinese-Canadians.
If opposition lawmakers have their way, Fadden will be fired “for doing his job,” which is to alert government officials and the public about threats to national security.
Although every Canadian knows that Chinese espionage has long been a problem, targeting not only the high-tech sector, but also government agencies and minority groups such as Taiwanese and Falun Gong practitioners, it has become worryingly taboo to talk about the darker side of Canada’s engagement with China.
The problem is Beijing’s growing economic influence, for which Canada serves as a warning. There is a long tradition of Canadian leaders making a fortune in China after their political careers end, oftentimes using the contacts they made while in office. China has also invested billions of dollars in Canadian natural resources and telecoms, creating fortunes for several of those involved. Such contacts have created numerous opportunities for Chinese officials to seek to influence policy decisions in Canada.
Fadden now runs the risk of joining the ranks of lower-ranking government officials who, having the courage to shed light on this unholy alliance, have been repaid with the abrupt termination of their careers in government.
Not only is he threatening to uncover senior government officials who may have betrayed their country, he also risked undermining (or so his detractors argue) close relations between Ottawa and Beijing.
Intelligence agencies should never be told by their political masters not to investigate a potential threat or discouraged from disclosing it at an appropriate venue when that threat has been confirmed.
Whether decisionmakers act on the intelligence provided to them is their prerogative, but intelligence officials should not be put in the position of having to choose between telling the truth and career advancement, however inconvenient it may be to the political system as a whole.
This should serve as a lesson for Taiwan, where under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a similar tendency to downplay the threat from China so as to maintain “good” relations has weighed down intelligence officials.
Taiwan’s National Security Bureau Director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) has often been a lone voice pointing to the continued Chinese threat and there are signs that his statements are unwelcome in certain circles. Indeed, he has on several occasions been accused of “playing up” and “politicizing” intelligence to influence, for example, Washington on arms sales.
The closer cross-strait relations become and the more reliant Taiwan becomes on China economically, the more the Presidential Office, the National Security Council and corporations will exert pressure on intelligence agencies to moderate their comments on the China threat.
This is dangerous, because when dealing with China, a “climate of suspicion” is exactly what is needed.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation