BY SOLARINA HO
Nothing like a quintessential blast of Canadian weather – complete with a rare winter lightning show (a.k.a. “thundersnow“) over Lake Ontario followed by a blizzard – to launch the Toronto-based chapter of NüVoices in March.
Organized by NüVoices chair Joanna Chiu and board member and NüVoices Podcast co-host Solarina Ho, a group of journalists and academics (undeterred by the brewing storm) gathered over a 10-course dinner at Pearl Harbourfront Chinese Cuisine and had a wide-ranging and thought-provoking conversation on China.
Special guest Diana Fu, an associate professor of political science at The University of Toronto and director of the East Asia Seminar Series at the Asian Institute, led the informal discussion. Topics included the current political climate in China and tensions with Canada, particularly in light of Canadian intelligence leaks that warned of foreign interference from Beijing.
The news reports on the leaks earlier that week prompted a great exchange around media coverage of the issue and the need for Canadian news organizations to diversify their roster of sources who can speak knowledgeably on China. Taking the feedback received over dinner, NüVoices is working on expanding its Canada-based experts in our extensive international directory of female, non-binary, and BIPOC experts; it’s a great opportunity to strengthen this invaluable resource further.
Send your recommendations for experts on Canada-China relations via this short form!
Here are some resources/books, etc. recommended and discussed at the dinner:
- Official Secrets by Richard Cleroux
- Some of Joanna’s reporting from Taiwan
- Some articles on foreign interference from China
- Chinese interference in Canada? Chinese Canadians say they reported it for years — and were ignored
- Trudeau announces multiple investigations into foreign election interference
- Chinese Canadians worry foreign interference probe could stigmatize politicians, candidates
- China views Canada as a ‘high priority’ for interference: CSIS report
- Canada China Forum aims to ensure the next generation of Canadian leaders in business, media, government, non-profit are globally-minded and China-competent
- The Institute for Peace and Diplomacy’s Canada-China bi-weekly brief
- Maple Kingdom (Twitter and Substack) (although they’ve been quiet this year)
Some thoughts for journalists when reporting:
- Academics aren’t always necessarily good with commenting on current events on the ground, but add particular value in explaining the big picture context
- Analytical questions are easier to answer and comment on, but questions like, “what’s going to happen next?” can be difficult to answer, especially for academics
- Be sensitive toward a source’s safety when asking questions. For example, in live broadcasts on sensitive topics, don’t ask sources questions about their family in China
- Journalists should try to use a variety of terms to describe the CCP when trying to delineate the government from the people/culture to avoid a “Red Scare” tone that can fuel anti-Asian sentiments. For example, instead of always emphasizing the use of “Communist” China/party/officials, use a variety of terms including Beijing, President Xi, the government, party officials, etc. Here is an op-ed on the subject.
A couple of additional thoughts from Diana and links to some of her research:
- Canada lacks an informal network of think tank intellectuals and public policy experts on China
- The feminization of activist labour movements
- Wilson Center Policy Essay: Is rights advocacy civil society in China dead?
- NYT oped: America should open its arms to Chinese students
- Podcast on 2018 book on labor organizing in China
- 2022 academic article on the social credit system
We heartily appreciate everyone who came out on what would turn into a very wintry Friday night – despite forecasts that warned of the impending snowstorm!
HOW IT BEGAN:
HOW IT ENDED: Driving home at 10km/hour on the highway in whiteout conditions.