A Richmondite was disturbed to see a couple of Chinese student associations asking their members to profess their love for the Chinese Communist Party in an online contest to mark the party’s 100th anniversary.
Last month, just ahead of the July 1 anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP), Bill Chiu came across a post on WeChat from Chinese student associations at UBC and SFU, which had collaborated with the Chinese Consulate-General in Vancouver to celebrate the CCP's 100th birthday.
In the post, the two student organizations encouraged others to participate in a contest by submitting original poetry, photos or artwork that would “evoke overseas Chinese's devotion to the Party,” the post reads in translation.
The post also noted that awards would be given out on July 1, with the top winner getting 500 RMB (around CAD $95).
"The purpose of the event is to provide a chance for Chinese students in Greater Vancouver to showcase their talents, to evoke overseas Chinese's devotion to the Party, to showcase the excellent tradition and legacy of the Party and to promote the growth of Chinese students who are studying in Canada," states part of the WeChat article translated into English.
The official Facebook page of the UBC Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) claims the organization is a "non-political, non-profit, independent organization composed of mainly Chinese students and scholars studying and working at UBC."
But Chiu suspects this student group is "closely associated with the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver" based on this WeChat article, noting that Chinese social media has become an important vehicle for the CCP to connect with the Chinese diaspora.
Chiu recognizes it’s common for politicians and political parties to use social media to interact with their voters and promote their election messages, however because China is a dictatorship, the impact is more concerning.
"Things become different if an authoritarian regime is using their social media account to promote messages from the country's only party," said Chiu.