It was a who’s who of Richmond politicians lined up to greet and speak to Chinese business people and members, at the 9th Conference of the World Guangdong Community Federation in Vancouver from May 27-29.
About 1,800 attended the conference at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. Richmond attendees included Richmond Centre MP Alice Wong, local MLAs John Yap and Teresa Wat, Coun. Chak Au, school board trustee Jonathan Ho, council candidate Peter Liu and Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who gave welcoming remarks on behalf of the City of Richmond.
“They picked B.C. for obvious reasons, because many of our immigrants, in part from early years, are from Guangdong,” said Wat, former B.C. International Trade Minister.
When in government, Wat signed a memorandum of understanding with China on its One Belt One Road initiative — a global initiative by China to build infrastructure outside its borders to increase trade and draw in resources.
However, some are critical of the trade conference. Activist Fenella Sung, with Vancouver’s Friends of Hong Kong Society, said the conference is a good example of how the CPC uses seemingly harmless organizations to present a positive image of itself.
“They never talk about what are the concerns and barriers they are facing, such as the trade deficit and recent brutality in China,” said Sung, who points to a recent report to CSIS outlining various issues with China’s trade missions and efforts to influence and undermine liberal democracies.
Wat, Au and Brodie, noted that international human rights is a federal matter.