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China was paying select Canadian media executives and journalists to act as conduits for its foreign election interference operations.

The media manipulation scheme was alleged in a section of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians report tabled in the House of Commons on Monday. 

According to the redacted section, China’s regime was “interfering with Canadian media content via direct engagement with Canadian media executives and journalists.” 

Specific examples included six sentences that were redacted. The report notes that the redacted portion described “examples of (China) paying to publish media articles without attribution, sponsoring media travel to the (People’s Republic of China), pressuring journalists to withdraw articles and creating false accounts on social media to spread disinformation.” 

Concerns about Beijing’s control over certain media outlets have a long history in Canada. In 2021, Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director David Vigneault warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a briefing memo that media influence operations had “become normalized,” especially with ethnic media outlets.  

“In particular, PRC media influence activities in Canada have become normalized,” the memo stated. 

“Chinese-language media outlets operating in Canada and members of the Chinese-Canadian community are primary targets of PRC-directed foreign influenced activities.”

Legacy media outlets were also a target. Last year, declassified CSIS documents pointed to “key media entities” receiving substantial funding from China. 

China often targeted “key editors, producers and high-ranking managers” via Vancouver’s Chinese consulate, even going so far as threatening journalists to elect politicians who sympathize with Chinese interests. 

“Traditional and online media outlets play an important role during election periods, offering a curated communications channel between political campaigns and the general public,” wrote CSIS.

“(China works) to manipulate and influence key media entities, control narratives, and disseminate disinformation.”