(This column was published in the North Shore News on Oct. 13, 1999)


Report raises concerns over govít, triad links

By Leo Knight

BY nature, I'm not a conspiracy theorist.  


Nor do I see bogeymen around every corner. But the events of the past couple of months have me wondering what's going on.  


The boatloads of refugees from the Fujian province of the People's Republic of China have focused a lot of attention on Asian immigration especially the illegal kind.  


The issue of illegal alien smuggling and the influence of Asian organized crime was underlined by the revelations of former foreign services officer Brian MacAdam and RCMP Corp. Robert Read concerning corruption in our Hong Kong consular operations and reaching into the upper echelons of the federal government.  


Then came the shocking disclosure of the CSIS investigation into high-level links between triad gangsters and senior levels of the Chinese government and the connections to Canada.  


The project, dubbed Sidewinder, was designed to look into suspicions that the Beijing government and Hong Kong-based criminal gangs were actively making political contributions in Canada, forging links with elected officials and attempting to purchase a Chinese-language media outlet for propaganda purposes.  


Launched in 1995, Sidewinder was inexplicably terminated in 1997 because of concerns of political interference.  


Last week came a story in the Toronto Globe & Mail claiming the director general of CSIS, Barry Denofsky, ordered the destruction of all copies of the report and, amazingly, all other material associated with the file -- e-mails, drafts, notes and all other bits and pieces with any link to the investigation.  


CSIS spokesman Phillip Gibson confirmed the destruction of the material, saying, "We do not report conspiracy theories ... rumour and innuendo."  


What would be the point of saving it, Gibson said in a media interview.  


According to my sources, there were a lot of good reasons to save it even if the agency disagreed with its conclusions. Realistically, it's inconceivable that a bureaucrat would destroy anything unless there was a cover-up of some sort. Frankly, it's against the religion of the civil service, not to mention federal legislation governing how long files are to be kept and when they can be accessed.  


The Sidewinder report concluded that CSIS and the federal government needed to recognize that the People's Republic of China and the triads were increasing their holdings in Canada through legitimate business entities and the national security of this country could be affected.  


Yet, if CSIS management felt the report was little more than rumour and innuendo, why then did CSIS publish a report in 1998 analyzing the aims of the Chinese government?  


The report, authored by Holly Porteous, a specialist analyst in tracking missile and nuclear-related trade in China, Taiwan, and the Korean peninsula, looks at the so-called united front strategy espoused by Mao Tse-tung and re-instituted by Deng Xiao Ping to expand the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.  


Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has been a challenging test for the modern day application of united front strategy by China.  


United front work in Hong Kong and elsewhere aims to extend the influence of the Chinese Communist Party by winning over non-Communist community leaders and using them to neutralize party critics, Porteous said in her report.  


Because they are international in scope and occasionally coercive, activities associated with this work can amount to interference in the internal affairs of other nations, she continued.  


The united front strategy is defined in the Porteous report: United front work is essentially about taking power from a position of weakness. Temporary alliances of convenience with non-Communist entities empowered a fledgling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to first establish and then maintain its hold on power in China.  


Rather than "kicking out in all directions," the party identified elements of Chinese society it could ally with to destroy the handful of "die-hard" elements who posed the greatest threat to its existence.  


In this manner, the voice of one political adversary after another was systematically quieted.  


Later, having established the Peoples' Republic, the CCP continued to use the united front to ensure that no potential opposition bloc could exist for long outside the party-dominated system.  


Porteous' analysis demonstrates how the temporary alliances of convenience were in fact the major Hong Kong and Macau triads who were given the wink by the government to continue their illegal activities with the proviso they would not work against the aims of the communist government of China.  


But this is not simply an effort by the communist Chinese government to solidify control in post-takeover Hong Kong, nor is it simply about repatriating Taiwan.  


Let's go back to the Porteous report.  


Inducing Chinese abroad, by threat or by appeal to patriotism, to conduct economic and technical espionage is also an aim of united front work, says the CSIS report.  


This is frightening stuff.  


It becomes even more frightening in light of the allegations by MacAdam and Read and the subsequent cessation of the Sidewinder investigation and destruction of all relevant documentation.  


CSIS investigators are angry about what's going on. They asked their superiors for the resources to conduct a full-blown investigation into the information derived from Sidewinder. But they were shut down. The speculation as to why has much to do with the energy and political capital the prime minister has poured into cultivating improved trade ties and business investment with the communist government of China.


When one considers that the initial prime motivation of Sidewinder was to look at a single, significant triad leader in Canada and the political donations made to increase influence here, the intelligence probe quickly expanded into analyzing how the triads and the Chinese government were attempting to gain a financial foothold in Canada via significant investments in shipping, ports, oil and gas companies banks and brokerage houses and real estate holdings.  


Clearly the government doesn't want any light shone on any of this. Equally clear is the need to get to the bottom of this mess.






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