China’s embassy in Canada is engaged in an aggressive effort to harass dissidents, including attempts to influence government agencies to limit anti-communist broadcasters, a Chinese defector and religious dissident said.
Zhang Jiyan, wife of a diplomat posted to the embassy in Ottawa, said in an interview that Chinese agents in Canada are harassing and spying on five groups of dissidents: the Falun Gong religious group, pro-democracy dissidents and those opposing Chinese control over Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.
Mrs. Zhang, a member of the outlawed Falun Gong who hid her beliefs for years, said she is seeking political asylum in Canada. Her husband has returned to China after being recalled by the government.
She defected in early March after obtaining an internal Chinese government document showing how the 10-member anti-dissident unit in the Chinese Embassy is working to block New Tang Dynasty Television from obtaining a broadcast license. The channel is the Falun Gong broadcasting arm.
“I think what the Chinese communists are doing are the worst things,” Mrs. Zhang said. “They are cracking down on Falun Gong and other dissident groups and they are spreading a hate program. And they are spreading lies against people who believe in truth, compassion and forbearance, and who are trying to be good people. And they are carrying out the wrong orders from people above” in the government.
Mrs. Zhang said the Chinese have targeted New Tang Dynasty Television because it is “telling the truth and revealing the human rights situation and persecution of Falun Gong in China.”
While the communist government “completely controls” all press and broadcast outlets in China, many overseas Chinese press engage in self-censorship to avoid upsetting Beijing, Mrs. Zhang said.
“That is why I wanted to expose the Chinese Embassy using pro-communist Chinese and Chinese foreign students” in influence operations, she said. “I want the people in the world to know the truth.”
“Right now in China there is a brutal, terrible persecution of Falun Gong, and what this embassy group is doing is trying to extend the persecution overseas. They are doing the worst things.”
Mrs. Zhang said she came under surveillance from Chinese security agents after she attended a Falun Gong demonstration. She said she will be imprisoned if she returns to China.
Falun Gong is a Buddhist-oriented meditation and religious group that had the tacit support of the Chinese government until a crackdown in 1999.
It has since engaged in political activities against China’s Communist Party and led an effort to persuade those in the party to renounce their membership and oppose the communist government.
Mrs. Zhang said China’s government has labeled the five groups of its political enemies the “Five Poisons.”
Dissidents and defectors have said the Chinese government is harvesting and selling the body organs of Falun Gong prisoners.
In a statement during a March 30 rally, Mrs. Zhang said half of China’s 1.3 billion people have “been subject to persecution in one way or another in the so-called political movements.”