Excerpt from "Claws of the Panda"

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Happening Now Monday, September 14, 2020 View Count = 714

Excerpt from "Claws of the Panda"

Claws of the PandaAs part of our #SamaraReads contest, we bring you excerpts from each of the five books shortlisted for the 2019 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Today, we publish an excerpt from Claws of the Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada by Jonathan Manthorpe.

Enter our online contest for a chance to win copies of all five books, including Claws of the PandaTo participate, simply share your favourite recent political book on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by September 21st, 2020. You must reside in Canada and include #SamaraReads in your social media post in order to qualify!



Is China changing Canada? Since before it came to power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party has been establishing links through which it can influence Canadian political, commercial, media, and academic discourse to its own advantage. The construction of that network has grown and spread dramatically since diplomatic relations were established in 1970. The CCP now has the capacity to ensure its interests are voiced, and can often dominate, when matters of concern to Beijing are raised in Canada’s Parliament, its provincial legislatures and municipal council halls, its media, and its lecture theatres. There is no question that the CCP’s capacity to influence Canadian public discussion has grown with immigration from Hong Kong and China in the last forty to fifty years. But it is crucially important to understand that the vast majority of the approximately 1.56 million immigrants from greater China, who make up about 4 percent of Canada’s population, are here to escape the depredations of the CCP. And it is because the CCP knows that among those 1.56 million people are many political dissidents working to change the politics of China that the party is intent on maintaining an espionage network in Canada that keeps watch on these people and intimidates them when necessary. 

The major victims of the Chinese Communist Party’s determination to influence public discourse in Canada are Canadians of Chinese heritage or those from territories occupied or claimed by the CCP. But they are not the only victims. Canada as a whole is suffering from the imposition of the values of the CCP on this country’s citizens and institutions. Corruption in all its forms now permeates many walks of life. Most of this is Canada’s own fault. Canada has become a haven for laundered fortunes of CCP princelings and red aristocrats (a privileged class whose status springs from family ties to the leadership of the CCP). This is because Canadian governments at all levels have not put checkpoints in place to ensure that money coming into the country was acquired honestly and is in Canada to serve a law-abiding purpose. Inevitably, because of China’s restrictions on the export of money, corruption, including the corruption of business partners in Canada, must be involved in the illegal movement of money into this country. Once corruption has taken hold in one aspect of public life, it swiftly moves to others. There are signs that the culture of corruption that travels with the CCP has infected many areas of Canadian life, including academic credentials and the many regulatory and licensing requirements overseen by the municipal, provincial, and federal governments. 

Canada is not alone in having these experiences flow from contact with the CCP. Similar things are happening in the United States, Europe, and especially New Zealand and Australia. Indeed, the Australian experience of infiltration by the CCP is almost exactly the same as that of Canada. The difference is that Australian politicians, academics, media, and the public have been a good deal louder and more pointed in their objections to the CCP’s campaigns. 

Why Canada hesitates to recognize these incursions is a troubling question. Is it because the CCP’s agents of influence have been so effective that any discussion is deflected? There is some truth in that. The way the government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was turned away from its original skeptical attitudes toward contacts with China carries evidence of the potent pro-Beijing lobby deep-seated in Canadian political, business, and academic establishments. But the effectiveness of CCP intrusion into Canadian public life should not be overstated, certainly not to the point of seeing every public figure who speaks up for reasonable relations with China as Beijing’s Manchurian Candidate.

Excerpted with permission from Claws of the Panda by Jonathan Manthorpe, 2019, Cormorant Books.

About the Prize

Established in honour of the outspoken and popular MP from Windsor, Ontario, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is awarded annually for an exceptional book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers. Sponsored by CN, the prize is awarded annually at the Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa. The 2019 winner will be announced on September 23rd, 2020.

2019 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

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