Han Dong Advised Beijing on Political Impact of ‘Two Michaels’ Treatment on Liberal Party Fortunes: Intel

MP Han Dong told a Chinese official that the treatment of two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China could impact the fortunes of his Liberal Party against the Conservatives, according to a federal intelligence summary of Mr. Dong’s conversation released to the foreign interference inquiry.Mr. Dong testified before the inquiry on April 2 and was asked to comment on the information.“MP Dong stressed that any transparency provided by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] in relation to the ‘Two Michaels’, such as a court hearing or court date, would help to placate Canadian public opinion and provide some valuable talking points to his own political party against the opposition,” says the intelligence summary.The “Two Michaels” refers to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were being detained in China at the time in apparent retaliation of the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wangzhou in Canada based on a U.S. extradition request.In another summary point, Mr. Dong is said to have “emphasized that the Canadian public believed that the PRC’s approach” on the issue was “wrong and lacking legal justification,” and that Canadians were of the belief that their country was just doing its legal obligation when arresting Ms. Meng.Mr. Dong is then said to have commented on the potential ramifications regarding Canadians’ views on the issue, including the scenario of if China were to release Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, given Canadians’ perception of China’s prior conduct on the issue.Related Stories“More precisely, MP Dong’s reference to the detention of the ‘Two Michaels’ came in the context of MP Dong noting the difficulty of getting people to change perspectives once particular positions solidified,” the document says.“MP Dong expressed the view that even if the PRC released the ‘Two Michaels’ at that moment, opposition parties would view the PRC’s action as an affirmation of the effectiveness of a hardline Canadian approach to the PRC.”The intelligence summary presented at the inquiry says that Mr. Dong had shared those views in private in early 2021 with an unspecified interlocutor, who was identified during proceedings as the Chinese consul general in Toronto.Mr. Dong had made it clear he was not speaking on behalf of the Canadian government, says the summary. Topics discussed also included the House of Commons motion on recognizing Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs as a genocide.A version of this intelligence information published by Global News in March last year led to Mr. Dong resigning from the Liberal caucus and suing the media outlet for defamation.Mr. Dong told the commission he didn’t recall having had that conversation with the consul general, but added that after Global published its report, his office confirmed it was “likely that we had a conversation in early 2021.”Mr. Dong confirmed the topic of the two Michaels had been broached with the Chinese official. He was asked by commission counsel to validate each part of the intelligence summary and agreed that it’s “possible” what is reported was discussed.“I always bring up, advocate for early release of two Michaels, so it’s possible,” he said.Global reported that Mr. Dong had initiated a phone call with Toronto Chinese Consul General Han Tao in February 2021 and advised that “Beijing should hold off freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.”Two separate national security sources reportedly told Global that if “Beijing released the ‘Two Michaels,’ whom China accused of espionage, the Opposition Conservatives would benefit.”“Dong also allegedly recommended that Beijing show some progress in the Kovrig and Spavor cases,” reported Global. “Such a move would help the ruling Liberal Party, which was facing an uproar over China’s inhumane treatment of Kovrig and Spavor.”In his March 2023 announcement about leaving the Liberal caucus, Mr. Dong said “what has been reported is false and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims.”Former special rapporteur on foreign interference David Johnston was asked about the allegations during his short stint in the spring of 2023. He testified before a House committee on June 6 that the intelligence had been “misinterpreted.”“The reference I think that Global News had was to an early draft of an understanding of what transpired in a conversation between a member of the PRC consulate and Mr. Dong,” said Mr. Johnston.In his May 2023 report, Mr. Johnston didn’t mention an issue of misinterpretation but instead said the allegation was “false.”“Mr. Dong discussed the ’two Michaels’ with a PRC official, but did not suggest to the official that the PRC extend their detention,” says the report, which Mr. Johnston says is based on the “only intelligence that speaks to this issue.”The reporting from Global News and the Globe and Mail, based on national security leaks which depict widespread interference by Beijing, is the reason a public inquiry is currently being held.During inquiry on April 2, Gib van Ert, cou

Han Dong Advised Beijing on Political Impact of ‘Two Michaels’ Treatment on Liberal Party Fortunes: Intel

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MP Han Dong told a Chinese official that the treatment of two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China could impact the fortunes of his Liberal Party against the Conservatives, according to a federal intelligence summary of Mr. Dong’s conversation released to the foreign interference inquiry.

Mr. Dong testified before the inquiry on April 2 and was asked to comment on the information.

“MP Dong stressed that any transparency provided by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] in relation to the ‘Two Michaels’, such as a court hearing or court date, would help to placate Canadian public opinion and provide some valuable talking points to his own political party against the opposition,” says the intelligence summary.

The “Two Michaels” refers to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were being detained in China at the time in apparent retaliation of the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wangzhou in Canada based on a U.S. extradition request.

In another summary point, Mr. Dong is said to have “emphasized that the Canadian public believed that the PRC’s approach” on the issue was “wrong and lacking legal justification,” and that Canadians were of the belief that their country was just doing its legal obligation when arresting Ms. Meng.

Mr. Dong is then said to have commented on the potential ramifications regarding Canadians’ views on the issue, including the scenario of if China were to release Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, given Canadians’ perception of China’s prior conduct on the issue.

“More precisely, MP Dong’s reference to the detention of the ‘Two Michaels’ came in the context of MP Dong noting the difficulty of getting people to change perspectives once particular positions solidified,” the document says.

“MP Dong expressed the view that even if the PRC released the ‘Two Michaels’ at that moment, opposition parties would view the PRC’s action as an affirmation of the effectiveness of a hardline Canadian approach to the PRC.”

The intelligence summary presented at the inquiry says that Mr. Dong had shared those views in private in early 2021 with an unspecified interlocutor, who was identified during proceedings as the Chinese consul general in Toronto.

Mr. Dong had made it clear he was not speaking on behalf of the Canadian government, says the summary. Topics discussed also included the House of Commons motion on recognizing Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs as a genocide.

A version of this intelligence information published by Global News in March last year led to Mr. Dong resigning from the Liberal caucus and suing the media outlet for defamation.

Mr. Dong told the commission he didn’t recall having had that conversation with the consul general, but added that after Global published its report, his office confirmed it was “likely that we had a conversation in early 2021.”

Mr. Dong confirmed the topic of the two Michaels had been broached with the Chinese official. He was asked by commission counsel to validate each part of the intelligence summary and agreed that it’s “possible” what is reported was discussed.

“I always bring up, advocate for early release of two Michaels, so it’s possible,” he said.

Global reported that Mr. Dong had initiated a phone call with Toronto Chinese Consul General Han Tao in February 2021 and advised that “Beijing should hold off freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.”

Two separate national security sources reportedly told Global that if “Beijing released the ‘Two Michaels,’ whom China accused of espionage, the Opposition Conservatives would benefit.”

“Dong also allegedly recommended that Beijing show some progress in the Kovrig and Spavor cases,” reported Global. “Such a move would help the ruling Liberal Party, which was facing an uproar over China’s inhumane treatment of Kovrig and Spavor.”

In his March 2023 announcement about leaving the Liberal caucus, Mr. Dong said “what has been reported is false and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims.”

Former special rapporteur on foreign interference David Johnston was asked about the allegations during his short stint in the spring of 2023. He testified before a House committee on June 6 that the intelligence had been “misinterpreted.”

“The reference I think that Global News had was to an early draft of an understanding of what transpired in a conversation between a member of the PRC consulate and Mr. Dong,” said Mr. Johnston.

In his May 2023 report, Mr. Johnston didn’t mention an issue of misinterpretation but instead said the allegation was “false.”

“Mr. Dong discussed the ’two Michaels’ with a PRC official, but did not suggest to the official that the PRC extend their detention,” says the report, which Mr. Johnston says is based on the “only intelligence that speaks to this issue.”

The reporting from Global News and the Globe and Mail, based on national security leaks which depict widespread interference by Beijing, is the reason a public inquiry is currently being held.

During inquiry on April 2, Gib van Ert, counsel for Conservative MP Michael Chong, remarked to Mr. Dong that he seemed disappointed or frustrated in his statement of anticipated evidence that his conversation with the Chinese consul was recorded.

Mr. Dong said he didn’t recall but added that no Canadian would appreciate having his phone tapped.

Mr. Dong hasn’t replied to requests for comment by The Epoch Times.

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Nomination Contest ‘Irregularities’

The intelligence summary document also noted irregularities during the Liberal Party nomination race that Mr. Dong won in September 2019. These included activities undertaken by “individuals close to PRC Officials,” the document said.

The irregularities, which the document says have not been “firmly substantiated,” include, buses being “used to bring international students to the nomination process, in support of Han Dong.”

As well, the document noted intelligence reporting that some of the students were provided “with falsified documents to allow them to vote, despite not being residents of [Don Valley North],” Mr. Dong’s riding.

“The documents were provided by individuals associated with a known proxy agent,” the intelligence summary says.

The summary adds that the students voted under “veiled threats’ by the Chinese consulate.

It also says that intelligence reporting had indicated “the involvement of an individual who is a known proxy agent of PRC officials.”

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