|The largest propaganda machine in history has turned its eyes to our shores, prompting several groups to call on the CRTC to deny it the right to broadcast in Canada.
The "Great Wall Package," to be hosted by Rogers Cable, will consist of nine channels controlled by the Chinese governments Xinhua news agency.
The group Canadians Against Propaganda, a coalition of Canadians who have joined together to block Chinese state-run television from reaching Canada, says this is yet another attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to influence ex-patriots and discourage its travelling citizens from viewing foreign media.
"These channels are propaganda tools completely ruled by the Chinese communist government and used extensively to incite hatred against dissident groups like Tibet and Falun Gong," says Elaine Xie, co-chair of Canadians Against Propaganda. "We are confident that the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission will see the reality of these stations as the real threat to Canada and Canadians if they are allowed into Canada."
A group of free Chinese newspapers, as well as the Falun Gong-affiliated Epoch Times, has also united to oppose the package, partly because of its threat to homegrown Chinese media and entertainment.
Chinese Ambassador Lu Shumin asked the CRTC to approve the nine channels in a letter in January, saying the approval of the channels will promote Canadas cultural diversity. Xie says this is a fallacy.
"The ruling Chinese communist party has been destroying traditional Chinese culture since it came to power in 1949, but uses Chinese culture to influence and control foreign countries and Chinese diaspora."
Evidence of hate incitement submitted to the CRTC by CAP focuses on the networks depiction of Falun Gong in particular. It includes program lineups and news stories linking the quasi-religious group to violent and self-destructive acts akin to the self-immolation incident at Tiananmen Square in 2001, widely believed to have been staged.
Also submitted to the CRTC were statements from Chinese party officials, such as, "[We need to] try to dominate the overseas media. Our goal is to have the overseas media follow our propaganda."
Ken Koo, President of the China Canada Business Association in Calgary, an organization with the broad mandate of promoting trade between the two nations, welcomes the idea of a Chinese cable package. Though the Chinese government has complete control over its media and requires it to follow a certain mandate, Koo, being quite familiar with Chinas programming, points out that our own CRTC does the same.
"They [the CRTC] want to promote Canadian content," says Koo. "I think everyone is paranoid because it is government controlled. They dont have the kind of freedom we have here, but they have some great programming. A lot of it is artistic and cultural."
Caylan Ford, a local Falun Gong practitioner and writer for the Epoch Times, however, believes it would be unfair to bring the channels to Canada.
"One of my Chinese friends lives in Toronto, and she came to Canada believing no students were killed in Tiananmen Square. Only when she came to Canada did she learn she was being lied to," says Ford.
"Rogers Cable is saying this is mainly cultural programming, but it would be incredibly naive of us to think it is so innocuous," says Ford. "If we allow Chinese state-run media into Canada, I worry we will be depriving newcomers the chance to see the alternative view, or rather we will lessen their motivation to do so."
The Chinese Communist Partys crackdown on Falun Gong has gained a great deal of attention in the West following stories of the torture and indoctrination of practitioners and, more recently, allegations of organ harvesting.
Winston Liu, a PhD student at the University of Calgary, was imprisoned in China for downloading information on Falun Gong.
During his three-year incarceration, he endured beatings, mental and physical torture and solitary confinement. He also says officials forced him to watch the kind of propaganda CAP is trying to stop.
"While I was in prison, I watched a lot of media," said Liu. "Nearly all media is controlled by the Chinese government. They make a lot of hate propaganda programs toward the Falun Gong."
Nearly every day Liu says he had to watch the anti-Falun Gong media as part of his "treatment." His wife is still in prison for refusing to renounce the practice.
"I dont want them to come to Canada, because I know their programming is a mouthpiece of the party. They dont want people in China to know the truth."