(Clearwisdom.net) On February 23, 2012, the Canadian Court of Appeals in Quebec dismissed Les Presses Chinoises owner Crescent Chau’s appeal of an earlier judgment against his defamation lawsuit regarding The Epoch Times. In a unanimous decision, the three Canadian Appeals Court judges upheld the ruling Justice Catherine Mandeville handed down at the Quebec Superior Court on April 29, 2010, when she originally dismissed Chau’s case. “The trial judge concluded that the articles specified are not an unfair attack to the reputation of the appellants [Chau and co.]. It is worth repeating that in those articles, the respondent [The Epoch Times] claims that the appellants are agents of the People’s Republic of China, and that they are funded by the latter to spread its ideology regarding Falun Gong,” reads the judgment.
The outcome of this case has four implications: First, it is perfectly legal for The Epoch Times to reveal the fact that Crescent Chau and his Les Presses Chinoises acted as agents of the Chinese Communist regime. Second, sooner or later, the Chinese Communist regime’s tactic of funding overseas Chinese media and instigating them to attack Falun Gong on its behalf will be exposed to the public. Third, the regime’s attempt to utilize the Western legal system to silence people who speak the truth will only hurt itself in the end. Lastly, those who act as the regime’s agents out of material interests will eventually face moral and legal punishment.
In order to give readers a good idea of various aspects of this particular lawsuit, we compiled the following facts from articles published in The Epoch Times. Note, some paragraphs are direct quotations from The Epoch Times articles while others are paraphrased. For details, see:
“The Epoch Times Wins Defamation Lawsuit”
“Court Upholds Epoch Times Probe into Montreal Publisher”
“Chinese Newspaper Defamed Group, Quebec Court Says”
“Canadian Group Denies Being Front For Chinese Regime”
“Montreal Newspaper a Voice for Chinese Regime”
Timeline of the Lawsuit
It all started in late 2001, when Crescent Chau began to publish four special editions of his Montreal-based newspaper Les Presses Chinoises, which usually numbered at most 4,000 copies per week in Montreal and Ottawa. Chau himself declared that he was on a personal “crusade” against Falun Gong and called on the Montreal Chinese community to denounce it.
In August 2006, Chau somehow drummed up the funds to print 100,000 copies of a special 32-page tabloid without a single advertisement and distributed it nationwide free of charge. These special editions had no advertisements or news, just articles denouncing and calling for the elimination of the Falun Gong meditation practice, which has been subject to violent suppression in China since 1999. The articles repeated the Chinese regime's most malicious, unsubstantiated charges against Falun Gong practitioners—that they engage in bestiality, vampirism, murder, and suicide. These are exactly the same virulent fabrications state-run media in China have broadcast since the practice was outlawed in 1999—charges that multiple government bodies and rights groups say are propaganda, used to justify the repression.
The Epoch Times examined Chau and his business and wrote several articles detailing his actions in 2007. In one article titled, “Montreal Newspaper a Voice for the Chinese Regime” (see http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/7-7-6/57287.html for details), The Epoch Times interviewed Chen Yonglin, a former high-ranking Chinese diplomat, the first secretary at the Chinese consulate in Sydney, Australia, before he defected in 2005. Chen suggested Chau was working on behalf of the Chinese regime.
That same year, Chau sued The Epoch Times for libel, seeking nearly a quarter million dollars in damages. The case reached the Quebec Court of Appeals in November 2009. Justice Catherine Mandeville dismissed the case on April 29, 2010. “This is a case of the biter complaining about being bitten,” she said in her ruling, adding that it was fair to suggest that Chau was acting as an agent of Beijing. The Epoch Times articles expressed “legitimate concerns and constitute an opinion which is drawn from a factual premise and not made for the purpose of abusively attacking the reputation of Mr. Chau,” the court found.
Chau appealed to the Quebec Court of Appeal on April 29, 2010, requesting that The Epoch Times pay damages of 70,000 Canadian dollars, as well as cover all his legal costs. The Court of Appeals ruled on February 23, 2012 that there was no reason to believe an ordinary citizen would deem that Crescent Chau or his paper had been improperly defamed, stating that “In view of the overall context of this public debate, this Court concludes that the litigious statements express legitimate concerns and constitute an opinion which is drawn from a factual premise and not made for the purpose of abusively attacking the reputation of Mr. Chau.” The court also found, “The fact that the respondent refers to the appellants as agents promoting the ideas of a government cannot be considered defamatory in those circumstances. All the more, Chau has declared several times that he shares the ideas of China about the movement in question.”
The court also ruled that Chau should cover The Epoch Times’ defense costs.
The Chinese Regime’s Overseas Mouthpiece Fails to Silence People with Western Legal System
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya, who used to head up the agency’s Asia-Pacific desk, said lawsuits like the one The Epoch Times faced are a common strategy the Chinese regime uses to silence people who are writing about sensitive topics.
He commented, “Chinese intelligence services know the law, and they have been using the law to try and intimidate people. This is a form gagging lawsuit. They try to sue people and entangle them in lawsuits for a long period of time, knowing this will cost them a lot of money, to scare them not to write about them.” He also said, “We know one thing -- that the vast majority of the Chinese media are actively controlled by the [Chinese] government.”
Chau’s attempt to silence The Epoch Times with his defamation lawsuit has failed. This outcome shows that Western society’s respect for free speech is based on facts, not defamation.
The Chinese Regime’s Ongoing Efforts to Infuse Overseas Chinese Media with Capital
Concerns over the Chinese regime's ability to influence Canadian society and policy were brought out in April 2009 when former CSIS head Jim Judd broke with the policy of not naming countries and revealed that nearly half of CSIS's counter-intelligence resources were being dedicated to Chinese spies in Canada.
Michel Juneau-Katsuya indicated that there are at least two dozen front organizations controlled by the Chinese regime operating in Canada. He also specifically cited a Chinese newspaper report, an article indicating that the Chinese Communist Party's central committee had dedicated an additional $3 billion to the Foreign Affairs Department and United Work Department to “embellish” the Chinese regime and China abroad for the next fiscal year.
According to a Jamestown Foundation organization article entitled “How China's Government Is Attempting To Control Chinese Media In America,” the Chinese regime uses the following tactics to influence overseas Chinese media:
“First is the attempt to directly control newspapers, television stations and radio stations through complete ownership or owning major shares. Second is the government's use of economic ties to influence independent media who have business relations with China. This leverage has had major effects on the contents of broadcasting and publishing, effectively removing all material deemed "unfavorable" by the Chinese government. Third is the purchasing of broadcast time and advertising space (or more) from existing independent media. Closely related to this is the government's providing of free, ready-to-go programming and contents. Fourth is the deployment of government personnel to work in independent media, achieving influence from within their ranks.”
No one has exact data on how much money the Chinese regime has provided overseas Chinese newspapers, radios and TV stations. Xu Jiatun, former head of the Xinhua Net in Hong Kong, once said he helped transfer 30 million dollars to a pro-Chinese regime newspaper published in the U.S. and Hong Kong.
Chen Yonglin, the former Chinese consul, provided a document from the Chinese consulate in Sydney to show the depth of the Chinese regime’s infiltration of the Western world. Dated February 7, 2001, and titled, “Special Anti-Falun Gong Working Group Division of Labour Table,” it lists the responsibilities for members of the anti-Falun Gong team, which included the heads of all sections at the consulate. For example, the head of the political affairs department was responsible for “recommending” anti-Falun Gong articles from state-run media in China for use in Chinese-language media overseas and writing anti-Falun Gong articles for publishing in Chinese-language media. The head of the culture department was charged with sending such articles to politicians and media.
Chen said, “It is clear that Les Presses Chinoises is cooperating with the Chinese embassy and consulate and has become the hatchet man and propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party here.” He added, “It is very likely that the printing costs were directly funded by the Chinese embassy and consulate. The contents seem to be mostly produced and provided by the CCP.”
Canada Does Not Tolerate Organizations Controlled by Foreign Governments
Michel Juneau-Katsuya said, “CSIS's responsibility is to protect Canadians and the government of Canada. Any organizations perceived as acting on behalf of a foreign government to do political or other forms of interference is and will be investigated by CSIS.”
He continued, “We know one thing -- the vast majority of Chinese media are actively controlled by the [Chinese] government.”
Chau’s efforts to demonize Falun Gong did not go unnoticed after he published the defamatory articles. Within four days of the “special edition” hitting the streets, the website for the Mainland China-based People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, published a report praising Chau.
Juneau-Katsuya also raised an alarm that such efforts may increase, owing to an increased budget for the Chinese regime's United Front Work Department, which manages such efforts overseas. He commented, “The United Front Work Department has been extremely active in financially and logistically supporting many of the organizations of this nature as front organizations to promote Chinese interests and to spy on Canadians and Chinese abroad.”
“They have at their disposal a phenomenal amount of resources to use front organizations and people supporting their activities,” said Juneau-Katsuya.
He added, “Any organization that is used by a foreign entity to do such activities here is judged to be unacceptable.”