Chinese Subversion of Canadian Institutions and Society

Posted: March 3, 2023 in Political Philosophy
Tags: , ,

By Richard Martin

I now consider it a high-probability, high-impact risk that China has conducted and continues to conduct influence and subversion operations against Canadians, the Canadian government, politicians and perhaps key officials. I will develop my reasoning in a blog post, but the following can be considered the tl;dr version for now.

From a Bayesian perspective, as new evidence emerges, we must revise our estimate of probability. In addition, we must also consider our background knowledge from the historical behavior of the CCP and other evidence.

For example, if we assume that we have no prior knowledge of CCP’s capabilities and intentions, the initial evidence is only about potential interference. Let’s say 50/50. If we add other evidence, and each is also 50/50, or even slightly more likely under the assumption of CCP intent, the odds in favor of CCP’s harmful behavior and intent are still not overwhelming.

But if we now add our general knowledge of Communist China, the CCP’s capabilities and past behavior, and stated goals, the prior probability of the Chinese subversion, elite capture, and coercion hypothesis increases substantially. Additional evidence in support of this hypothesis would add little to our overall assessment of probability.

The question then becomes what evidence would disprove the hypothesis, and the null hypothesis of non-hostile Chinese intent can be dismissed. It is now up to those who claim that there is nothing to see here or that it remains below a threshold of concern to provide the evidence and arguments for this claim. In other words, it is time to prove that China is not hostile, rather than the other way around.

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