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Protesters across the street from Gao Bingchen's home in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

A Vancouver-area blogger who has been highly critical of an exiled Chinese tycoon says he is being repeatedly harassed in his home by supporters of the billionaire, who has extensive ties to former White House adviser Steve Bannon.

The RCMP say they are looking into the behaviour of these protesters, who have been gathering on the sidewalk in front of blogger Gao Bingchen’s Surrey, B.C., home almost daily since mid-September. They hurl obscenities and accuse him of being a spy. They accuse Mr. Gao of verbally harassing them too.

Mr. Gao says he has posted some of their behaviour on social media. The demonstrators were there again last Thursday.

“It has been a crushing blow to my whole family,” Mr. Gao said.

The protesters are supporters of Guo Wengui, a real estate magnate who fled China after he was accused of money laundering, bribery and rape by the Chinese government. Since he left, he has styled himself as an insider capable of taking down the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Guo is the owner of the yacht where police arrested Mr. Bannon on fraud charges. Mr. Guo and Mr. Bannon have been partners in several ventures, according to the Washington Post.

Mr. Gao is a former columnist for a Chinese-language newspaper in the Vancouver area and is now a blogger and YouTuber. The protesters say he is an agent for the Chinese government.

Similar protests have taken place in other parts of the world, including the U.S. and Australia. Mr. Gao attracted the attention of Mr. Guo’s followers after the billionaire, in multiple videos, asked his followers and supporters to take action to “eliminate traitors” who serve the Chinese Communist Party across the world. The Surrey blogger was on the list, along with others that include prominent Chinese dissidents.

Mr. Gao, who often writes under the pseudonym Hebian Huang, used to be a contributor to Burnaby-based Global Chinese Press. In 2016, after working with the paper for a decade, his column was abruptly cancelled when he wrote critically about Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. After that, Mr. Gao has been publishing articles on WeChat and created his own YouTube channel.

Protesters who showed up in front of Mr. Gao’s home last Thursday said he is an agent for the Chinese government. They say critics of the country are usually banned from returning to China. However, Mr. Gao, they said, can enter and exit China freely.

“If they have the evidence that I am a spy, they should report it to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, instead of blocking my door [like this],” Mr. Gao said.

The protesters usually set up tents in a public area across from Mr. Gao’s house, located in the Guildford area of Surrey. According to residents in the neighbourhood, the protesters stay there for hours every day; an RV parked behind the tents is used for washroom breaks.

Several residents say their daily lives, as well as their well-being, have been affected by the demonstrations. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the names of the residents because they say they are concerned about their safety.

The protesters often put up cameras facing Mr. Gao’s house and livestream the events online. Videos circulated on the internet show them walking in the neighbourhood holding signs that say "Take down CCP” and “Bingchen Gao is CCP Spy.” Besides the tents, there is a path where many children in this community, including Mr. Gao’s 10 year-old, pass by every day and attend the nearby elementary school.

Surrey RCMP said the continuing protests have been extremely frustrating for people in the community, but that the demonstrations have so far remained lawful and that they have the right to peaceful protests.

“While these activities are causing concern, no criminal offences have been committed,” said Corporal Elenore Sturko, adding that the police have received a variety of complaints, including allegations of harassment and espionage.

“We have looked into these things to see if we’re able to find evidence substantiating these allegations made on all sides.”

Surrey says bylaw officers have attended the protests to ensure that there are no parking or obstruction violations occurring. It adds that no violations have occurred to date.

Mr. Gao said he doesn’t know any of the protesters but believes he is being targeted because of his history with Mr. Guo. He has repeatedly criticized Mr. Guo and questioned the billionaire’s credibility on his YouTube channel since 2017. The pair were involved in a legal fight in 2018.

Last Thursday, many protesters were wearing blue baseball caps with an atom-like logo, the symbol of the New State of China – a self-proclaimed pro-democracy group founded by Mr. Guo and Mr. Bannon. Articles documenting these events against Mr. Gao have been posted on Gnews, a media outlet funded by Mr. Guo.

Protesters last Thursday said they did not want to comment on their relationship with Mr. Guo. They say there is no leader or organizer of the protests and many members are from other parts of Canada, including Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta. They also say expenses are out of their own pockets.

However, they acknowledged that some are investors of GTV Media Group Inc., a company linked to Mr. Guo and Mr. Bannon. The company is under investigation by the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In May, British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) added the media company to its investment caution list. In a statement posted on its website, the provincial regulator said GTV isn’t registered to sell securities in B.C. and has not filed a prospectus with the agency.

Some of the protesters rallied against BCSC in early October because they said the regulator froze their accounts related to the investments.

BCSC spokesperson Brian Kladko said Friday that the agency could not provide any information regarding GTV beyond the statement. To protect the integrity of the investigative process, he said the BCSC doesn’t provide details of its investigations, nor confirm the existence of investigations.

Attorneys for Mr. Guo couldn’t be reached for comment.

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