[FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW] Dean Baxendale is the CEO of Optimum Publishing International, which has been at the forefront of exposing Chinese communist infiltration in the West—from money laundering to election interference. Optimum Publishing International's new book will be out soon, titled “The Mosaic Effect: How the Chinese Communist Party Started a Hybrid War in America’s Backyard.”
Jan Jekielek: Dean Baxendale, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Dean Baxendale: Thank you, Jan. It's a pleasure to be here in Washington today.
Mr. Jekielek: Dean, it's high time that I had you on the show. You've published a number of hard-hitting books on China and the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]; Hidden Hand, and Wilful Blindness. The one coming out most recently is The Mosaic Effect, by Scott McGregor. Let’s talk about The Mosaic Effect and some of the really interesting things you discovered in the process of researching this book.
Mr. Baxendale: It goes back to the 2018 provincial election in Ontario, where the then leader of the opposition, the progressive conservative leader, Patrick Brown, had spoken in the legislature asking why the Ontario government was awarding billion dollar contracts to a casino operator from British Columbia that seemed to have a rather suspect business model.
In fact, there were numerous reports by Sam Cooper, at that time with the Global News and The Province, that people were showing up with hockey bags full of cash with no providence whatsoever, coming into the casino and getting chips. When they would leave, they would cash out with a cashier's check, and that would possibly end up in some kind of real estate.
I contacted Sam Cooper and we started talking about transnational organized crime. Optimum Publishing had been involved since the '70s in bringing forward these narratives about organized crime and the heroin business. Back in the '70s, we published, The Canadian Connection, and that's where it all started.
Mr. Jekielek: What is the mosaic effect?
Mr. Baxendale: The genesis of The Mosaic Effect book was The Mosaic Project. The Mosaic Project was an operation being conducted by my authors to get a better understanding of the connections between transnational organized crime, terror threat financing, the People's Liberation Army [PLA], election interference operations, and ultimately, money being used to suppress the China diaspora communities throughout Canada.
The genesis of this money was coming from billionaire tycoons that are ultimately tied to the PLA and to organized crime in Canada. You have this backdrop that led the authors to do a deep investigation. Potentially, we could call it a counterintelligence operation that allowed them to really look at the United Front Work Department [UFW] and all of its various tentacles in Vancouver, which the authors suggested was ground zero for the infiltration operations of the CCP into the backyard of America to wage hybrid war against America.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to dig into that further. Before we go there, there has been a lot of talk about election interference in Canada. Please break that down for me.
Mr. Baxendale: Michael Chong, a Canadian MP, came to Washington today to speak about transnational oppression against him and the election interference operations and WeChat disinformation that took place in the 2021 election. There were a number of Conservative Party MPs that were targeted by the CCP, because the Conservative Party leader, Erin O'Toole, had taken a very strong stance on China, trying to combat China's coercive operations inside Canada and identifying these issues.
The Chinese Communist Party doesn't like anybody speaking out against them. They ran WeChat campaigns against a number of MPs, including MPs from the West Coast, Kenny Chiu and Alice Wong. These campaigns, which the Conservative Party was not prepared for, or equipped to combat in the Chinese language, ultimately led to the defeat of multiple MPs.
According to my intelligence and journalistic sources, they suggest that as many as seven electoral districts were turned by the Chinese Communist Party in our last election. That led to Sam Cooper releasing a bombshell report that suggested that an MP, Han Dong, in Toronto was involved with part of the funneling of money to various candidates in the Toronto area as part of this election interference operation. This was corroborated by Robert Fife and Steven Chase from The Globe and Mail as well.
Mr. Jekielek: That's astonishing.
Mr. Baxendale: It is astonishing. But according to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, who is the former Head of Asia-Pacific for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service [CSIS], this has been going on for 40 years. When we came here to Washington in March and you interviewed Scott, we talked about Operation Dragon Lord, which was an operation done by the Department of Justice. It was a multi-agency task force that looked into this nexus, what we call the unholy trinity, this connection between organized crime, the CCP, and key business and political elites inside Canada, Australia, and even the United States, but they were focused on Canada at the time.
Election interference has been going on for over 40 years in Canada. As Michel Juneau-Katsuya said to the CBC, "Every prime minister, from Brian Mulroney to Justin Trudeau, has been compromised by agents of influence of the Chinese Communist Party for 40-plus years." When the CBC reporter repeated that, she was gobsmacked by this assertion. He went on to say, "Yes, every single prime minister."
People getting close to the Prime Minister could be ministerial aids, could be agents of influence, or could be contributors to the party. Money has come into Canadian elections directly into both political parties, the conservatives and the liberals, and have ultimately compromised our election process for that many years.
Mr. Jekielek: We'll actually roll that clip.
Speaker 3: Every prime minister, you say, has been compromised by those agents?
Michel Juneau-Katsuya: Every prime minister. Every government, every office was compromised and when we brought the warning, nobody listened.
Mr. Jekielek: I remember watching it and just being shocked by it, not so much about what he was saying, because we both know how the Chinese Communist Party operates, but more so because he said it on live television. This is something that has been unspeakable for decades.
Mr. Baxendale: One of the reasons why it has been unspeakable is because Michel Juneau-Katsuya, as does Scott McGregor, find themselves bound by the Official Secrets Act in Canada. Until something becomes public and is exposed, they have no ability to talk about it because they're under their duty and obligation to protect national security and intelligence apparatus secrets within the country. This provided a rare opportunity for somebody to come out and confirm that these kinds of operations were indeed being conducted by the CCP to undermine our democracy.
Mr. Jekielek: In The Mosaic Effect, you're bringing out some new information. What can we expect from the book?
Mr. Baxendale: What you're going to expect and what you're going to see is a comprehensive analysis of the UFW operations inside Canada, the two centers of gravity being Toronto and Vancouver. You will learn about the following UFW operations; election interference, transnational repression of the diaspora community, economic subversion, and purchase and acquisition of critical assets within the country.
You will see the compromise of the mayor of Vancouver. You will see new information about the government's complicity in the police station apparatus with memorandums of understanding between the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] and the Chinese Communist Party that allowed Ministry of State Security [MSS] agents to repatriate, shall we say nicely, a number of Chinese dissidents. The idea was they were repatriating criminals, but that's not the case.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to clarify that for people that might not be familiar with the RCMP. You're basically telling us that the Canadian Federal Police had an understanding with CCP security services to repatriate people based on the word of those security services. They said they were criminals. The reality was they were whatever the MSS said they were.
Mr. Baxendale: Yes. Under the Harper administration, which was very much a law and order government, this made sense. The CCP came calling to suggest that there were bad criminals inside the country and said, "We need to repatriate them. We need to locate them inside Canada, and you should therefore extradite them and allow us to bring them back to China to face charges." That seemed like a win-win proposition.
Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques later discovered that there was a lot more going on behind the scenes. My own author, Dolkun Is, who will be launching his book, The China Freedom Trap, My Life on the Run, was under a Interpol Red Notice for 21 years sponsored by the CCP under absolutely garbage claims. The Canadian government fell prey, as did many governments around the world.
This was revealed by Safeguard Defenders, who has brought a lot of attention to these issues. But we speak about the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] specifically in this book, which will be somewhat revelatory for many Canadians. It will help you to understand the level of participation that we had with the Chinese Communist Party, until we started to figure out that there was something much more sinister in their repatriation of supposed criminals from China.
Mr. Jekielek: This wasn't just in Canada, but you may be more familiar with the Canadian story. How could the Canadian government imagine CCP agents to be good faith actors? Clearly, that would be an assumption that you would need to make to have this agreement.
Mr. Baxendale: First, you would have to actually admit that there were agents inside the country. The idea of setting up police stations inside the country, which ultimately involved the Chinese Ministry of State Security, seemed to have some logic to law enforcement at the time. The establishment certainly went along with it because it was in their best interest and there was also potential financial remuneration. All of a sudden, the deal was going to be that 50 percent of the assets recovered would be shared with the government. Then there would be a financial windfall for the government for agreeing to go along with this.
When my author, Dolkun Isa, was captured in Korea and was potentially going to be extradited, he would have faced the death penalty in China. That is what this regime is about. They're evil. I hate to see what the outcomes are for some of those people. I look at all of the great work that people in the Hong Kong freedom movement and the Tibet movement and the Uyghur movement are doing to bring light to these issues and tell the world that this is an egregious, atrocious regime that has no place on the world stage.
Because of their influence with global agencies, it also gave them cover when they went to national governments to say, "Interpol says that this person is a criminal." They have used their influence over institutions at the international and national levels to get their way.
Mr. Jekielek: People often forget that the head of Interpol, a Chinese national, actually disappeared in China while he was still head of Interpol. I can't believe I just said that, but that actually happened.
Mr. Baxendale: It did indeed, and it speaks about Xi Jinping and this particular regime. Individuals that somehow run afoul of the regime are going to be accountable to Xi Jinping and the upper echelons of the Politburo. Ultimately, individuals who make transgressions that they do not condone will disappear.
Mr. Jekielek: But the Chinese regime said, "This person is so trustworthy as to be given the job of the head of Interpol."
Mr. Baxendale: Yes. What's more astonishing is that democratic nation states who are part of the decision-making process in terms of who they hire for that position, not only condoned, but also supported bringing in the top guy from the Chinese Communist Party. In of itself, that flabbergasted me that we have found ourselves falling prey to the trappings of the CCP and their influence operations within these organizations and within the nations.
We've allowed them to run amok and ultimately control institutions. In this case, it is Interpol, one of the most important international agencies for looking at criminal activity. We're allowing them to pass judgment on individuals that may have spoken out, truth to power, against a nation state like China, Russia, or North Korea.
All of a sudden, they're on the list and being hunted down. Imagine Dolkun Isa being on their list for 21 years. As a matter of fact, when he went to Taiwan just this past week, it took some intervention by the Ministry of State in Taiwan to get him into the country, because that was still hanging over his head.
Mr. Jekielek: I'm glad that he got in, and hopefully, that notice can be removed off of his record soon. We've talked about Twitter censorship on this show. Your publishing house's Twitter account was censored a while back. Please tell me about that.
Mr. Baxendale: This happened when we brought out Wilful Blindness by Sam Cooper. He had been on a podcast in Vancouver, ground zero for CCP infiltration operations and hybrid warfare. He had been on this podcast and people from the UFW and Beijing did not like what he was saying and what was being promoted. All I did was to simply promote this free and fair interview with my author.
I was targeted by the UFW and ultimately, seven accounts of mine were taken down. They suggested that the content that I was promoting was violating Twitter policy. We believe this was done by the UFW and a sitting senator who was part of this.
Mr. Jekielek: A Canadian senator, correct?
Mr. Baxendale: It was Senator Yuen Pau Woo, who has come out against Sam Cooper and done a number of editorials along with other CCP apparatchiks to suggest that what we were saying were lies and that we were racist. They said the information we were bringing out tying together the transnational organized crime, business tycoons, and UFW people speaking on behalf of Beijing were all lies.
Then two years later, it is not all lies. But at the time they censored my accounts. It took U.S. journalists to get on board and start exposing this, including NTDTV, who had a great interview on this issue. After about a week, they finally reinstated my accounts. But they gave me a warning that should I engage in such activity again, “promoting false narratives,” that I would be censored. I haven't been censored since, but it was because the journalistic community came to our defense that we were able to get our accounts reinstated.
Mr. Jekielek: This was pre-Elon Musk's purchase.
Mr. Baxendale: Correct. This was in 2021.
Mr. Jekielek: Have you had any other brushes with censorship?
Mr. Baxendale: After we published Wilful Blindness first time around, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service contacted Sam Cooper for a briefing specifically around the release of the book and the effect that the book was having on creating a narrative that the CCP was clearly not happy with. They started an operation to collect information on Sam Cooper and myself and to see if we were aligned with the, “five poisons,” Falun Dafa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Uyghurs, and the Tibetans. They wanted to know if I was working with them as a publisher.
Actually, I'm representing all those viewpoints through the following authors; Benedict Rogers, Dolkun Isa, Clive Hamilton, and Mareike Ohlberg, who have all published on these topics. The answer is, “Yes, I am aligned to the so-called “five poisons.” What I'm actually aligned to is freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and democratic freedom. That is what we all should be supporting.
Yet, our legislators in Canada, the United States, and around the world have been slow to come to the table to actually put the safeguards in place for people like Sam Cooper as a journalist and myself as a publisher being attacked and having lawfare used to silence us.
As the Chair of the China Democracy Fund I worked on Professor Anne-Marie's case. Basically, she was being censored by our university based on UFW proxies who were professors at New Zealand universities. We had to fight back very hard. The CCP is going to put out as much as they can to disenfranchise, silence, and keep their critics in check.
But the reality is that now we've moved a couple of years forward, and we've created our platform, I would say. Not that the gig is up, because China is redoubling their efforts all the time. But now, people in Congress, people in parliament in Canada, people in the UK and throughout the world, are very much aware of these tactics and see through them now, whereas a few years ago they did not.
Mr. Jekielek: I'll direct our viewers to American Thought Leaders interviews, both with Sam Cooper and Scott McGregor. We were talking about some of the early work around The Mosaic Effect. You mentioned that your publishing house was already publishing hard-hitting stuff in the '70s. How did you get into all this?
Mr. Baxendale: My father was in the publishing business starting in the '70s. He worked for Weekend magazine, which was the weekly magazine that was in every newspaper across the country back in the '70s and early '80s. He was the managing director of that, and then he started Optimum Publishing. The focus of Optimum at the time was around national politics and the environment. We did everything from cookbooks to social issues to public policy issues. But organized crime and true crime was one of the key areas that my father specialized in. That started in the '70s with his publishing of, The Canadian Connection.
Interestingly enough, the actual Canadian connection was referred to in the movie, “The French Connection.” It was the back end of the heroin trafficking business that was ultimately being filtered through Montreal. The heroin was not getting through New York, because there were too many issues with the unions, and they didn't have control over them. In Montreal, they had complete control of the ports. The heroin was flowing in and then went to the United States through those ports. That's how we got started in these hard-hitting kinds of books. That's what Optimum Publishing had specialized in.
When my father left the company to me after his passing, he suggested that I should do this because I could afford to be a publisher. He gave the rest of the money to my siblings. In that tradition and in that vein, one of the key things he told me about publishing about organized crime is that organized crime members love to read about themselves. He said, "They love the notoriety, and so it's fair game for you to publish about them because they really like it."
I asked, "What's the downside?" He said, "The only downside is if you spell their name wrong." I said, "What happens then?" He replied, "Well, then they'll kill you." It was a bit of a joke. But they had actually threatened one of his authors, and they really took a shot at them just as a warning.
In an upcoming book by Garry Clement called, Under Cover: Inside the RCMP and Organized Crime, Garry recounts the fact that the Hells Angels put a hit out on him. Being the cop that he was, he deals with it nonchalantly. He goes to the clubhouse, and says, "You guys want to come after me? You're coming after the whole force."
They removed the hit from him right away. There's always a relationship between organized crime and police, and there's obviously a lot of things that go on. The police have a really tough job, especially in Canada these days, in terms of combating these organized crime groups. Because ultimately, it's all about the money and it's all about the money laundering operations. They're moving billions of dollars through real estate and banks inside Canada and around the world. As Sam Cooper pointed out, over a hundred billion dollars a year is laundered in Canada by organized crime.
That also includes some very nefarious terrorist groups. There is an actual association, as Scott McGregor points out in The Mosaic Effect, between organized crime and terrorists. In the security and intelligence apparatus in America, no one believed that could possibly take place. This was also happening in the Middle East. He was part of a joint forces operation with the U.S., and they proved this to be true. It's very scary for us to safeguard freedom of democracy when we have criminals helping to facilitate the transactions and operations that may undermine our democracy.
Mr. Jekielek: As you're talking, I'm thinking about Venezuela, which has made itself into a haven for money from all the illicit regimes. You don't usually think of Canada, you think of Venezuela.
Mr. Baxendale: I've been coming to Washington for the past couple years and emphasizing the fact that Canada is your problem. Canada is the conduit and the success apparatus and mechanism. Vancouver is ground zero for the hybrid war against America. Between 20 and 30 percent of all the deadly fentanyl that is killing Americans is coming through Vancouver, with the precursors coming from Guangdong Province under the full guise and understanding of the Chinese Communist Party.
In fact, in the book, Wilful Blindness, and we talk about in The Mosaic Effect as well, the RCMP asked for help from the CCP during the Meng Wanzhou incident. Basically, they turned a blind eye and said, "We're not going to do anything." In other words they are helping to facilitate this reverse opium war against the world. They're using it to destabilize and undermine democracies yet again.
The 100,000 people dying from opioid fentanyl overdoses could be controlled and stopped by the Chinese Communist Party. The fact is, we have very little ability to interdict and stop the flow of these precursors coming into North America, Mexico, and Canada. Vancouver is the distribution point for many of these actually going back to Asia. The supply comes out of Vancouver, going back to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. It's big business and there's a lot of money involved. But you can die with that $20 pill that you purchased on the street.
Mr. Jekielek: Given the relationship between the CCP and organized crime, that flow could be stopped in an instant.
Mr. Baxendale: Yes, it could be, but there's no willingness. It forms part of another tentacle of the hybrid warfare strategy by the CCP to destabilize democracies around the world.
Mr. Jekielek: Please tell me what the China Democracy Fund is doing.
Mr. Baxendale: The China Democracy Fund was formed by a number of academics, journalists, editors, publishers, and politicians. Our first case was defending Professor Anne-Marie Brady, when she was being censured by her university, the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand.
Mr. Jekielek: By the way, for writing on Chinese party influence operations.
Mr. Baxendale: Correct. Her paper was titled, “With a Pen in One Hand, and a Gun in the Other.” Ultimately, this was about academia in New Zealand transferring military secrets about weapons systems off to the Chinese military through universities doing research in New Zealand. She was calling out those professors and what was going on inside of New Zealand. That was the genesis of the China Democracy Fund.
Most recently, I've been working on the case of Daniel Suidani, the deposed Premier of Malaita Province in the Solomon Islands. We know that the Solomon Islands ostensibly has been taken over by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and that the Sogavare government is ultimately a puppet government of the CCP. I've written about this in The Sunday Guardian in Delhi. I'm working with those people to support their bid to put more democratic, democracy, ethically-based individuals back into their parliament in the Solomon Islands next time around.
Hopefully, that takes place in April of next year. The Prime Minister had stopped the elections because he said, "We have to do the Pacific Games," which is highly sponsored by China. Saudi Arabia recently came through with an $8 million donation to those games. But China controls the infrastructure. It is actually a microcosm of what we call the Vancouver model for money laundering operations. They infiltrated the Solomon Islands through influence operations and bribes. It's a classic example showing itself quite readily there in the islands.
Mr. Jekielek: What's next for Optimum Publishing?
Mr. Baxendale: First of all, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. Our authors who have come to us recently are looking to bring out their stories globally. I'm working in the global political environment in London, Washington, and New York to bring these very important stories forward. When anybody is questioning or truth to power and ultimately trying to challenge the convention, or if people's voices have been silenced, they'll come to Optimum, because we're willing to work with them and take the risks together to bring their stories forward.
I'm not brave. It's the people that I work for, my authors, that have all these stories. They have all these incidents and oppression against them. They are exposing organized crime, so that global leaders and citizens can understand what's going on behind the scenes.
Mr. Jekielek: Dean Baxendale, it's such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Mr. Baxendale: Jan, thank you so much for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Dean Baxendale and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I'm your host, Jan Jekielek.
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