Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Chinese envoy decries 'irresponsible' coverage of Tory MP's e-mail affair

The Chinese government says the Bob Dechert affair is a private matter and it's "irresponsible" for the press to imply Beijing had any hand in it.

Mr. Dechert, a Conservative MP with special foreign affairs duties, says amorous e-mails he sent to a journalist with China's state news service are part of an " innocent friendship." These include messages where he said he loved Shi Rong, a Toronto correspondent for Xinhua News Agency.

Canada's top spy last year warned that the Chinese were trying to infiltrate Canadian politics. Western intelligence agencies consider Xinhua a tool of the Chinese state that collects information for Beijing.

Story continues below advertisement

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa told The Globe and Mail the country has nothing to say about the personal relationship between Mr. Dechert, 53, and Ms. Shi. Both are married to other people.

"We have noted related reports, but are in no position to comment on 'domestic disputes' and privacy of those involved," the embassy spokesman said, asking he not be named. "However, it must be pointed out that it is irresponsible to use this to defame the Chinese Government."

The Prime Minister's Office is standing by Mr. Dechert, saying it has no information to contradict the Mississauga–Erindale MP's assertion that he has not engaged in "inappropriate behaviour."

Among the cache of leaked e-mails that brought this matter to light, though, is an especially personal letter about an entanglement gone sour – one that raises more questions.

The Harper government treated this missive, written in Chinese, seriously enough that it went to the trouble of translating it while investigating what transpired between Mr. Dechert and Ms. Shi.

The e-mail, titled "Old Fox," was part of the same bundle of e-mails hacked from Ms. Shi's inbox last week and sent without her consent to more than 240 business, academic and political contacts. She blames her husband for the leak.

Mr. Dechert is never mentioned by name in this note – a fact Tory government officials cite when defending their decision to stand by the MP.

Story continues below advertisement

This e-mail, however, appears to be counselling Ms. Shi on a relationship she's having with an older man – something that was more a friendship and is now on the rocks.

Dated June 26, 2010, it was purportedly sent to Ms. Shi by fellow Xinhua correspondent Qu Jing.

"About the old man, tune him out," reads the e-mail from Ms. Qu, which then goes into a lengthy diatribe about how men treat their girlfriends as "clothes" that they can wear or discard as they see fit.

"About the sad tales you told me about him keeping you waiting for a long time, put it out of your mind. I have experienced the same," Ms. Qu writes to Ms. Shi. "Sweep him into dust bin, he is not good enough for you."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at