Daughter of detained Lulu Island Winery owner is hoping that the Prime Minister will bring good news about her parents upon his scheduled return from China Thursday night.
Amy Chang, whose parents, John Chang and Allison Lu were arrested by China Customs in March 2016 for allegedly underreporting the value of imported ice wine, wrote to Justin Trudeau last week, asking him to “directly help free” her parents during his visit in China.
“I’m very hopeful. I really hope (Trudeau) can get my parents home,” said Amy to the Richmond News.
“It’s been a long and difficult time for my family and myself, especially with my dad’s declining health.”
Trudeau hasn’t replied to her yet, but said Tuesday in Beijing that he pressed Premier Li Keqiang during their meeting on the importance of gaining access to Canadian citizens who face “difficulty in legal situations.”
“I’m appreciative that the Prime Minister is standing up for Canadian citizens,” said Amy.
When asked if she is satisfied with what Trudeau has done, Amy said she can’t comment because not all details have been revealed.
Amy told the News that she has been in touch with her mum, who was released in January, but prevented from leaving China, on a daily basis. But no one has been allowed to visit her dad except his lawyers.
“My priority now is my parents’ health,” said Amy.
“It’s 20 months later now. We don’t know what his current state is; we don’t know what he is doing. This is very concerning.”
The lawyer told Amy that her father has lost one third of his weight and suffers from a suspected kidney stone.
“He is in his 50s and has two tumors in his liver. I don’t even know how much time he has left. They have doctors in the detaining facility but they can’t do further examinations,” said Amy.
“I understand that there is a custom dispute and we are happy to discuss and resolve it with the Chinese government. We just hope that he can come home to Canada and get proper medical attention.
“It’s a trade issue. I think it’s something that should be resolved more diplomatically, versus taking my parents away.”
John Chang had a trial in China in May but the judge has not given a verdict. He may face three years to life imprisonment if found guilty, according to Amy.
Shanghai Customs arrested 18 smuggling suspects in March 2016 following a crackdown on imported ice wine, including “a Canadian ice winery owner Chang,” according to a report published on its official website.
The case involves a total value of $59 million CND.
“A Canadian ice brand declared an average price of only 10 yuan ($2 CND) per bottle, while it is sold many times more than that on a Chinese E-commerce platform,” said in the report.
Under Chinese law, a guilty defendant of smuggling to evade a large amount of tax faces three years up to life in prison, depending on the amount of money involved.