TORONTO—Just two days before news emerged that China has mobilized troops near the Hong Kong border, a group of pro-Beijing organizations held a rally in the Toronto area against protesters in Hong Kong. The Aug. 11 event in Markham featured former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan as a speaker.
The demonstrations in Hong Kong began in June against an extradition bill that would enable authorities to send those wanted by Beijing to the mainland. Since then the protesters have evolved in their demands, requesting more democracy and autonomy from Beijing as well as an inquiry into police brutality. The Hong Kong government has suspended the bill, but so far has refused to withdraw it.
Chan’s ties to Beijing was the subject of a warning to the provincial government in 2010 by then-head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Richard Fadden, according to a report by The Globe and Mail. Chan has launched a lawsuit against the Globe over the report.
A notice about the Toronto rally said the event included former Ontario MPP Han Dong, who is now seeking the Liberal nomination for Don Valley North. In a Facebook post, Dong distanced himself from the event, saying that neither he nor anyone from his campaign attended it.
The rally was reportedly meant to “support stability and peace in Hong Kong, for a better Hong Kong and China.”
Among the organizations attending were the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations (CTCCO), Beijing Association, and Council of Newcomer Organizations, which was founded by Liberal MP Geng Tan.
Speakers addressing the rally included well-known figures in the Chinese community who are go-to persons for the Chinese consulate, including Ping Tan and Wei Chengyi. Ping Tan, Wei, and Geng Tan have all been past executive members of the CTCCO. At the rally, Ping Tan was representing the Chinese Canadians for China’s Reunification (GTA) (CCCR) group.
The organizations have also been among those posting ads in local Chinese publications in Canada in support of the crackdown on Hong Kong protesters.
Both the CCCR and CTCCO ran ads in Chinese publication Today Commercial News in July to speak out against the Hong Kong protests. The publication is in part funded by Sally Aw, former owner of the overseas Chinese-language publication Sing Tao.
The National Congress of Chinese Canadians (NCCC), of which Ping Tan was also an executive, ran a similar ad on the front page of the Ontario edition of Sing Tao.
Pro-Beijing groups in Vancouver have also recently printed ads in Sing Tao, as well as another major Chinese-language publication, Ming Pao, calling protesters “radicals.” Signatories of the ad include CTCCO, CCCR, and many others.