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MARKHAM VOTES: What do mayoral and regional councillor candidates say about China-operated police stations in city?
Oct. 20, 2022

A recent report by Spain-based human right watchdog Safeguard Defenders in September reveals China has opened unofficial police stations around the world, including two in Markham.

China-operated police stations in Markham has stirred the pot in the Markham all candidate public meeting on Oct. 13.

The meeting invited questions from the public and asked by a moderator. The question was directed to mayoral candidates as well as those running for regional councillors.

“There were media reports about two Chinese government police stations set up in Markham. Is this true? And if so, what is your opinion about this?”

Mayor candidates Frank Scarpitti was assigned by the moderator to be the first to respond, “Whether they had set up shop in an office building somewhere I haven’t had time to talk to police. But I would just say that I hope our federal government and law enforcement agencies were going to take appropriate action. The last thing we can allow is any foreign government intimidating our residents who are here in our community. We have very limited powers municipally. I hope the federal authorities are taking action immediately. I want our residents to be safe.”

Another mayoral candidate Don Hamilton responded next, “Well, this must be a historic occasion, the mayor and I actually agree on something. I certainly hope that it doesn't exist. But if it does exist, then we certainly need to address it.”

Out of 11 regional councillor candidates running in Markham, 8 attended the meeting. 7 of them responded to the question and Sophia Sun left before the question was raised.

We reached out to 4 candidates, including Michael Chan, Ivy Lee, Sophia Sun, Srini Suppira, who did not have the opportunity to hear the question and invited their response. Ivy Lee and Michael Chan responded to our request.

Here are the answers from 9 candidates running for regional councillor in Markham.

Jim Jones

“The only time I do know of was in the paper in the last couple weeks, and that's all I know was what I read in the paper. I was kind of shocked that this was happening in Canada. I've not been happy about that.”

Joe Li

“I would have to say the U.S. police on our border have to interview us, you know, on our Canadian soil. No other country can come to another country, that is besides the U.S. police in our airports managing interviews. I was really annoyed. I don’t know why it happened in Canada because that is our border. I think this is something that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

Shanta Sundarason

“I'm quite surprised that nobody else is. I knew about that. I’m disappointed that Michael Chan, who is running for York Region Councillor is not here today, because I think he could answer to that.”

Alan Ho

“I have never heard about that kind of, I would say, rumour. I'm Chinese, and if they really want to do so, they should approach me for idea or something for action. I haven't heard about that. I don’t understand what kind of rumour that is.”

Greg Marcos

“I'm not really sure what to make of the comment, but I too, am appalled if this is true. It shouldn't be Canada. We need to avoid any foreign interference in our politics and we need to protect the Canadian residents. It's terrible. If this is indeed the case, I think you need to take very strong action right away to make sure that Markham residents are protected, and we don't need any more interference.

Nirmala Armstrong

“I mean, I just google search quickly. It's entirely illegal. Can you go live in another country and impose sanctions? I don't get it. We need York Region Council to send a clear message to the federal government, see what is going on here. This is not acceptable.”

Allan Tam

“I am very shocked after hearing that. I think as a regional council, I will encourage our team to ask regarding this. Yes, actually, that is not acceptable.”

Ivy Lee responded by email

“I heard from a friend that because of COVID some people from China cannot travel back to renew their ID card. The station is only for people to renew their ID card.”

Michael Chan responded by email in the name of Karen, campaign volunteer

“Law enforcement in Canada is the responsibility of police services operated by every level of our government. Any concerns regarding international and foreign relations matters should best be directed to federal government representatives. If elected, he (Michael) intends to continue this past practice of frequent outreach to York Regional Police to strengthen safety protective initiatives that include enhanced neighbourhood watch programs and the promotion of inclusivity and tolerance within our remarkably diverse city through the strongest anti-racism public messages.”

We did not hear from Sophia Sun and Srini Suppira by the deadline of Oct. 18.

According to Safeguard Defenders’ report, Chinese overseas police stations are all under the jurisdiction of two local-level police services in China -- the Fuzhou Public Security Bureau in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, and the Qingtian County police in Zhejiang Province.

Qingtian County police said in a news conference in China that the overseas stations “serves overseas Chinese to call for police services,” which include renewing Chinese driving licenses.