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HomeBusinessExclusive: Richmond mayoral candidate says “there is no human rights abuse in China”

Exclusive: Richmond mayoral candidate says “there is no human rights abuse in China”


Bob Mackin

The real estate and immigration lawyer who wants to beat incumbent Malcolm Brodie and become Richmond’s first ethnic Chinese mayor on Oct. 20 said in an interview that there is no human rights abuse in China and that her native country is misunderstood.

theBreaker asked Hong Guo after the Oct. 2 all candidates meeting at Richmond Seniors Centre about her desire to foster closer ties between Richmond and China, despite international concerns over human rights abuse in China where there is no free press.

“I don’t think so, I do not agree,” Guo said. “I think China has lots of freedom of speech.”

Richmond lawyer Hong Guo announced her run for Mayor of Richmond last June.

theBreaker pointed out that journalists have been jailed in China. 

“I don’t believe it,” she said. “I know so many people in China, and I have never heard about this. You have never been in China, I guess. That’s why I want to be a bridge, there is so much misunderstanding, there is lots of misunderstanding.”

Despite evidence contradicting Guo, she said “99.9%” of people will agree with her. She said major international outlets with foreign correspondents in China, such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, “don’t really understand Chinese policy or situation.”

“You go to China to stay there for five years and you will find it out. You are wrong. Yes. You are very much wrong,” she said.

“The Chinese media in China, they have very much freedom, to talk and to criticize and to make suggestions.” 

Guo is facing severe challenges to her candidacy after a professional misconduct citation from the Law Society of B.C. and for being a defendant in a $13 million lawsuit about a collapsed real estate deal. None of the allegations has been proven and Guo denies wrongdoing.

theBreaker continued to ask Guo about her knowledge of recent human rights issues about China.

Q: “So Amnesty International is all wrong, Human Rights Watch is all wrong… they’re all wrong?”

Guo: “Yes sir, if they’re saying so, they are wrong.”

Q: “What about Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Prize winner?”

Guo: “I don’t know, OK, so I think we’re a little bit too far from…”

Q: “The Nobel Prize winner from China who eventually died, his wife got out recently, went to Germany?”

Guo: “It’s a lie. It’s not fact. Yeah, give us the fact, because we are lawyers and we need evidence, we don’t really want to talk…”

Q: “What about Ai Weiwei, the artist.

Guo: “I don’t know, I have no idea about this.”

Q: “The famous artist, co-designer of the Bird’s Nest…”

Guo: “I’m not aware of this. I’m not aware of this…

Q: “You haven’t heard of Ai Weiwei the artist?

Guo: “I have never heard about this.”

Q: “You haven’t heard of the Nobel Prize winner, the artist? Do you read any western media here in Canada, the Globe and Mail, the National Post? They do have coverage of China.”

Guo: “Yes.”

Q: “I’m asking these questions because you want to build bridges between Richmond and China…. I’m asking about your knowledge of human rights abuses of China.”

Guo: “There is no human rights abuse in China, OK.”

Q: “Do you know what’s happening right now in Xinjiang, the re-education camps?”

Guo: “What do you know, and how can you know? Did you visit that camp? Then go to visit and then see by your eyes. Because I have so many friends, business partners and relatives, they are in China, they are there every day, they know better than you, they know better than CBC, they know better than the New York Times. They do.”

Q: “Why do you think that? You told me on the phone when I interviewed you that you’re not doing work with the Chinese government …

Guo:“It’s over… I think that’s the end.”

Guo’s handlers, including business partner Wolfgang Richter and Sutton real estate agent Peter Schellenberg, removed her from the building and blocked this reporter from following for the purpose of asking more questions about her business.

In late 2017, the Committee to Project Journalists said there were 262 journalists jailed around the world. The 41 in Chinese prisons were second only to the 73 incarcerated in Turkey.

Jiang Yefei’s cartoon criticizing China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping for favouring the country’s wealthy over the poor.

In July, the CPJ reported that a Sichuan provincial court sentenced freelance political cartoonist Jiang Yefei to six-and-a-half years in prison after a secret trial for “inciting subversion of state power,” and “illegally crossing a national border.” Jiang had fled to Thailand in 2008 after facing harassment from Chinese authorities for criticizing the government’s response to the Sichuan earthquake. An estimated 69,000 people died, many in earthquake-prone buildings that collapsed.

Amnesty International’s annual report said 10 journalists from the website, which reports on protests in China, were in prison at the end of 2017: Wang Jing, Zhang Jixin, Li Min, Sun Enwei, Li Chunhua, Wei Wenyuan, Xiao Jianfang, Li Zhaoxiu, Chen Mingyan and Wang Shurong. The website’s co-founder, Huang Qi, was accused of “leaking state secrets” and finally allowed to meet his lawyer eight months after he was detained.

Blogger Lu Yuyu, who documented protests in China, was sentenced to four years in jail in August for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” 

Human Rights Watch said foreign governments did little to push back against China’s worsening rights record while president Xi Jinping became more powerful.

HRW reported that authorities charged Liu Feiyue, founder of the website Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, with “leaking state secrets” and “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu could face life in jail if convicted.

Note: Bob Mackin has traveled extensively in China. In 2008, he covered the Beijing Olympics for Sun Media. His most-recent visit was early 2015.

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