Well, they’re back.
A Guildford neighbourhood is experiencing a most unwelcome déjà vu after protesters re-invaded their street Friday, following a two-year hiatus, to target a local man whom they claim is a spy for the Chinese government.
Bingchen (Benson) Gao, the subject of the protest, is a journalist who files for a Chinese-language newspaper in Vancouver and comments on YouTube. He does not speak English well but his wife, Alice Zheng, said Friday that their neighbours “feel very angry.”
“Even the police asked us to keep safe, not go outside,” she said. The protesters’ claims, she said, “are very ridiculous.”
“My husband has criticized CCP (Chinese Community Party) over 30 years,” she said. “That’s why he immigrated here.”
Gao later sent an email to the Now-Leader urging police “to pay attention to this matter and protect the safety of my neighborhood.”
Surrey RCMP Const. Sarbjit Sangha said police are watching.
“We are monitoring that it stays a peaceful protest,” he said.
At the height of the pandemic, protesters showed up in the 9700-block of 149 Street, some marching up and down the road in blue bubble suits, and others carrying placards, to the consternation of Gao’s neighbours. The first round of protesting began on Sept. 14, 2020 and dragged on for 77 days.
This second round began Jan. 20 at 9 a.m., just in time for Chinese New Year.
Shiliang Yin, who received a seven-month conditional sentence for assaulting Gao’s friend Louis Huang in Gao’s cul-de-sac during the 2020 protest, told the Now-Leader the protesters intend to stick around for at least 15 days this time around.
“I believe this guy’s CCP spy,” Yin said of Gao.
Roughly 15 members of the New Federal State of China were there Friday, sitting at the edge of a small park across from Gao’s place. Equipped with placards that read “Defend Canadian Democracy” and to “expel” Gao, they had a tract that begins with “Dear Neighbours” and alleges Gao began a spy mission in Canada in 2008 “in cooperation with” the Chinese Communist Party’s Jiangsu State Security Department.
Two women who were out for a walk expressed dismay that the protesters have returned. Both declined to disclose their names.
“It’s stupid,” said one. “You know, like there’s got to be better ways than to come and disrupt a neighbourhood.”