Canada not obligated to license Chinese State-Controlled broadcasters on government regulated airwaves: Foreign Affairs Critic

by EditorL

Michael Chong, conservative foreign affairs critic, speaking at the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations on OCtober 25, 2022. (Screen shot/ParlVU)

By Limin Zhou

A Conservative MP expressed his concern that the Canadian federal regulatory body continues to license Chinese state-controlled propaganda broadcasters to air in Canada, ignoring evidence of the Chinese Communist propaganda arms’ airings of coerced confessions from prisoners of conscience across Canada which is in violation of their human rights.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong raised his concern via a question to Alex Neve, former head of Amnesty International Canada, when Neve appeared before a recent Canada-China Relations Committee hearing to suggest that “a strong commitment to human rights must be at the very heart of all aspects of our relationship with China.”

Chong said that “state-controlled broadcasters are getting government licenses here in Canada” though there is evidence that they “have violated human rights by broadcasting the coerced and forced confessions of prisoners of conscience.”

Meantime, “the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television Commission) pulled Russia Today RT off the air a few months ago because it is a state-controlled broadcaster spreading disinformation.”

Chong asked for Neve’s thoughts whether “the CRTC licenses of state-controlled broadcasters from China operating here in Canada should be revoked.”

What is evident, “is there absolutely cannot be a double standard here. There were very clear and compelling and cogent reasons for the decision to revoke the Russian license, and that should not only apply because we have heightened concern and scrutiny now with respect to Russia in the midst of the Ukraine crisis,” said Neve, senior fellow of Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Ottawa University.

Alex Neve, senior fellow of Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Ottawa University, appears before the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations on OCtober 25, 2022. (Screen Shot/ParlVU)

“Those same concerns and approach and standards and principles should be applied to Chinese state-owned media as well, and absolutely, we should be looking very closely at any concerns that any of that media is a vehicle for propagating, advancing and promoting human rights violations,” continued Neve.

Back in 2006, The CRTC allowed Chinese language CCTV-4, a Chinese Communist Party controlled propaganda arm, to air in Canada. However, in doing so, the CRTC noted that CCTV-4 had broadcast abusive content targeting the founder and the practitioners of Falun Gong back in 1999 – 2001, when the Communist Party used hate propaganda to turn public opinion against Falun Gong in order to fuel a nation-wide persecution.

“Comments are clearly abusive, in that they are expressions of extreme ill will against Falun Gong and its founder, Li Hongzhi. The derision, hostility and abuse encouraged by such comments could expose the targeted group or individual to hatred or contempt,” ruled CRTC in 2006, “the statement could incite violence and threaten the physical security of Falun Gong practitioners.” “These types of comments, made in the context of reporting news, are likely to render the targeted group more vulnerable to hatred or contempt.”

CRTC recognized Falun Gong as a protected group under religion, noting that Falun Dafa Association of Canada refers to Falun Gong as “an ancient form of qigong, the practice of refining the body and mind through exercises and meditation and emphasizes not only physical cultivation, but also cultivation of one’s moral character in daily life according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance taught by Mr. Li Hongzhi, Falun Gong’s founder.”

CRTC also  warned that if CCTV-4 did so again, the CRTC could revoke its approval and take it off the air.

Safeguard Defender, a Human Rights NGO, said that despite the warning, CRTC did not act after receiving complaints for years that CCTV-4 and CGTN, CCP’s English propaganda arm licensed by CRTC, have aired abusive comments across Canada. In December 2019, Safeguard Defender filed a complaint to CRTC against CGTN and CCTV-4, providing records of 36 forced confessions with 70 victims aired in Canada from the period of 2013 to 2019.

Chong made clear that he is “not at all in favor of banning any print media or any non CRTC media” because he believes in the fundamental freedom of expression.

“I certainly don’t believe that the Government of Canada is under any obligation to grant a license to operate on government regulated airwaves, to a state-controlled broadcaster like those operating from either Russia or China,” said Chong.

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