Vancouver city hall is exploring ways to forge closer ties with the People’s Republic of China, by posting Chinese words on wayfinding signs.
Under a new trial program, expect to see the word for Vancouver, Wengehua (pronounced wen-GUH-wah), on the welcome signs at major thoroughfares on the city’s boundaries.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said his priority, in his last six months in office, will be cultural harmony.
“China is a vibrant nation that has contributed so much to our economy. Companies like Anbang Insurance, Huawei, and Poly Culture are investing in the community and creating jobs,” Robertson said in a news release obtained by theBreaker. “These signs will be the first step in telling the Middle Kingdom that we’re open for business.”
Robertson said he conceived the idea during a low-key visit to Shanghai last September. He marvelled at the signage in the city centre, showing the word Shanghai in the western alphabet. Acknowledging that Chinese characters would be confusing to average Vancouverites, he said the so-called pinyin, or romanicized version, was feasible. He also suggested city staff study changing Vancouver’s name to Wengehua.
The initial budget for the trial is $88,000 and public comment will be sought on the Talk Vancouver polling portal.
Robertson announced in January that he would not run for a fourth term in the Oct. 20 election, leaving the future of his Vision Vancouver party in doubt.
Robertson is a distant relative of the late Norman Bethune, a Canadian doctor who treated dictator Mao Tse-tung. Robertson raised eyebrows on both sides of the Pacific for comments favourable to the Chinese Communist Party and for a two-and-a-half-year romance with Chinese pop star Wanting Qu. Robertson and city council are gearing-up to apologize to the Chinese community for historical wrongs later this month.
The first sign in the trial program will be unveiled just before noon today, but theBreaker obtained a sneak peak photo by Yu Renjie.
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