While Christy Clark was premier and Teresa Wat was the international trade minister, the BC Liberal government spent millions of taxpayer dollars to convince a Mainland Chinese company to open a North American head office in British Columbia.
What it got was a trojan horse. The art and culture business arm of a massive company that was birthed by the People’s Liberation Army and raised eyebrows among Canadian and American intelligence officers.
Despite its parent, China Poly Group Corporation, boasting a $120 billion value, Poly Culture North American Investment Corporation Ltd. became a member of B.C.’s controversial AdvantageBC tax breaks scheme, which works hand-in-hand with the taxpayer-subsidized HQ Vancouver promotion agency that helped lure Poly.
The expansion to B.C. announcement was made in November 2015 in Beijing, at Poly’s sprawling headquarters, during Clark and Wat’s visit. Just over a year later, the company opened an art gallery in the ground floor of a downtown Vancouver office building.
Poly decided on B.C. by the time Clark and Wat travelled to Beijing. Among the 500-plus pages of documents obtained by theBreaker via freedom of information is a July 2015 letter from Poly Culture CEO Jiang Yingchun to Wat, saying that his company would establish the North American head office in B.C. Jiang invited Clark to make the announcement during her tour.
A B.C. government briefing note dated Aug. 24, 2015 said Poly Culture Group had registered its subsidiary in Richmond in early 2015. A briefing note prepared for Clark and Wat’s Nov. 30, 2016 meeting with Poly Group chair Xu Niansha, Poly executives and Chinese diplomats said Wat first met with Jiang in Vancouver in August 2014 to discuss Poly’s expansion to North America.
Where in Richmond did Poly open its North American culture division office? On the same floor of the same office building as Wat’s constituency office. Poly has ambitious expansion plans: Jiang admitted in an interview last November that Poly’s real estate division was already scoping the market.
Poly Culture North America Investment Corporation Ltd. was incorporated in B.C. on Jan. 19, 2015. The registration includes its pinyin name, Bao Li Wen Hua (Bei Mei) Tou Zi You Xian Gong Si. Five officers were listed: Chen Yi, Jiang Yingchun, chief financial officer Wang Wei, vice-president Liu Debin and general counsel Ren Wei. Their address was the China Poly Group headquarters at New Poly Plaza, No. 1 Chaoyangmen Beidajie in Beijing.
The 2017 annual report lists a $2.188 million house in Richmond’s Terra Nova neighbourhood under Chen and Jiang’s names and adds Wang Xinming, whose address is a townhouse in Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood. The Terra Nova house is registered in the name of Liu Yuesheng.
Poly Culture North America’s registered office, where its records are held, is the downtown Vancouver law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin. Fasken is also the law firm that helped incorporate a Canadian company for China Minsheng Investment Group’s reported $200 million purchase of beloved Grouse Mountain. Elections BC’s database shows Fasken gave $415,785 to the BC Liberals between 2005 and 2016. Edmond Luke leads the law firm’s China group.
Last August, Wat was mysteriously injured during a trip to Zhuhai, China and did not return to B.C. until the early November BC Liberal convention. Wat and Clark held a BC Liberal fundraiser at the River Rock Casino Resort. The event netted more than $124,000 for the party’s re-election campaign and was scheduled for the same week that Poly cut the ribbon on its Vancouver gallery and sponsored a Chinese orchestra’s performance at the University of B.C.
Clark’s successor as premier, John Horgan of the NDP, is planning his first foreign trade mission to China this fall. British Columbians know little about Horgan’s China policy — relations with China were absent from the leaders’ debates — though his party has pledged to deal with foreign real estate speculation.
In the meantime, theBreaker brings you the Poly Papers, or How the B.C. Liberal Government Rolled Out the Red Carpet for China Inc.