FACT CHECK: China Claims It Doesn’t Interfere In The Internal Affairs Of Other Countries

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

China’s Consulate General in New York claimed China doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Verdict: False

China has been repeatedly accused of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.

Fact Check:

China’s Consulate General in New York said in an email to National Review that the country “never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs.’

“The Chinese Consulate General in New York has been conducting normal exchanges with various sectors of society, including Overseas Chinese, in its consular district in accordance with laws and regulations. China never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs,” the full comment reads.

This claim, however, appears to be false. For example, China has been accused of interfering into the elections of Canada, according to The Wall Street Journal. The New York Times reported that Canadian lawmakers, such as Conservative Kenny Chiu and “other elected officials critical of Beijing,” were targeted by China.

The Times reported:

“Mr. Chiu and several other elected officials critical of Beijing were targets of a Chinese state that has increasingly exerted its influence over Chinese diaspora communities worldwide as part of an aggressive campaign to expand its global reach, according to current and former elected officials, Canadian intelligence officials and experts on Chinese state disinformation campaigns.

Canada recently expelled a Chinese diplomat accused of conspiring to intimidate a lawmaker from the Toronto area, Michael Chong, after he successfully led efforts in Parliament to label China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim community a genocide. Canada’s intelligence agency has warned at least a half-dozen current and former elected officials that they have been targeted by Beijing, including Jenny Kwan, a lawmaker from Vancouver and a critic of Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong.”

China has been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of the U.S. For example, the U.S. Justice Department charged two Chinese nationals for operating an illegal police station and acting against Chinese dissidents, according to an April 2023 press release.

“This prosecution reveals the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York in the press release.

China also ran police stations in other countries such as Canada, Italy and Japan, according to Politico. The outlet reported that the police stations “shows the extent to which Beijing has managed to conduct influence campaigns inside Western countries and violate others’ sovereignty while mostly evading law enforcement.” (RELATED: No, China Is Not Providing Tanks To Ukraine)

A similar conviction occurred against three men in June 2023, according to a Justice Department press release. In 2020, the Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology department was charged, along with two Chinese nationals, for three separate cases, including allegations one of the nationals were smuggling numerous vials to China.

Joshua Kurlantzick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in October 2022 that “China appears to be increasingly interfering in U.S. elections through intensive lobbying, control of foreign media outlets, and sophisticated disinformation campaigns.”

“Beijing tried to directly intervene in a New York congressional primary to prevent one candidate, Chinese dissident Xiong Yan, from winning. (His eventual loss probably had something to do with the Chinese pressure but also with other political factors.) The U.S. Justice Department charged five Chinese intelligence agents operating in the United States with harassing Xiong Yan, another unnamed legislator, and other dissidents. Beijing seems undeterred by the charges,” Kurlantzick wrote.

Other countries where China attempted to interfere include Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, according to Kurlantzick.

A spokesperson for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission pointed Check Your Fact to the commission’s March 2023 hearing.

“The transcript, in particular, has all of the witness testimony and Q and A with Commissioners on the various ways China interferes in the affairs of other countries,” the spokesperson said.

Experts told Check Your Fact that China interferes in the internal affairs of other countries.

Miles Yu, a senior fellow and the Director of the China Center at the Hudson Institute, told Check Your Fact in an email that the consulate “is categorically wrong.” (RELATED: Nikki Haley Claims China Has The Largest Navy In The World)

“China interferes with other countries’ internal affairs non-stop, de facto and de jure. The PRC Consulates themselves are instruments of interference, by impeding American academic freedom through coercive and furtive control of Chinese students groups on American campuses through their Educational Division; the PRC govt establishes secret police stations in foreign countries to intimidate and harass Chinese immigrant diaspora in direct violation of other countries’ sovereignty,” Yu said. He said the “list” of examples of China’s interference “could be a mile long, given the time to compile.”

Scott McGregor, a former Canadian military intelligence official, said to Check Your Fact that “China’s political interference operations are more complex than most people realize.”

“The operations are not specific to just political interference but overlap and are supported by various elements within a host nation. Soft power, the economic subversion operations involve corporations, businesses and educational institutions. These seek to infiltrate critical infrastructure and undermine a host nation’s control,” McGregor said.

A committee aide to the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party told Check Your Fact in an email that “some of the clearest examples of the CCP’s interference in other countries’ internal affairs” include the police station in New York and election interference in Canada.

“Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping charged with operating an “undeclared overseas police station” on behalf of the PRC,” the aide said. “The CCP’s interference in the Canadian election…The Australian espionage case related to election interference and promoting certain candidates, like the byelection in December 2017.”

Check Your Fact reached out to the Chinese Embassy in the United States for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
Follow Elias on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].