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HomeBusinessExclusive: B.C. NDP spends taxpayers’ money in Beijing-friendly media outlets

Exclusive: B.C. NDP spends taxpayers’ money in Beijing-friendly media outlets

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Bob Mackin

At the end of June, an NDP-aligned think tank revealed that the opposition BC Liberals had spent more than $1,700 on ads in a fundamentalist Christian magazine with homophobic content.

The Broadbent Institute’s PressProgress reported 14 BC Liberal constituency offices had contributed to buy ads over the last 18 months in The Light Magazine, which has promoted conversion therapy and opposed sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum in schools.

B.C. NDP minster of state George Chow (third from left) meeting Guangzhou Communist officials (Guangzhou government)

The spending information came from MLAs’ quarterly expense reports on the B.C. Legislature’s website.

A look through the same files shows that elected members of the governing NDP used at least $2,348 of taxpayers’ money to support entities sympathetic to the Chinese Communist Party.

The Legislative Assembly expense disclosure file for George Chow, the Minister of State for Trade and MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, shows that there were caucus payments to Dawa Business Group Inc. ($735 on Feb. 5, 2020), Global Chinese Press ($787.50 x 2 on Jan. 31, 2020) and a $38 payment for the Sept. 22, 2019 Chinese Benevolent Association banquet celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

“When the NDP government places advertisements in those media, B.C. is financially supporting pro-CCP media and lending them credibility,” said Ivy Li of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. “Why would the NDP want to do that?”

NDP ad in Global Chinese Press in February 2019 (GCPNews.com)

Dawa president Zaixin Ma organized the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations’ controversial Chinese National Day ceremony outside Vancouver city hall in 2016. The Chinese flag was raised and national anthem played before the consul-general and politicians sporting CCP Young Pioneer red scarves. Ma is a former reporter with CCP organs People’s Daily and Beijing Youth Daily. 

In August 2019, Dawa marketing director Jennifer Han was at pro-China protests with groups aligned with the Vancouver consulate. One of the protests occurred outside the Tenth Church where a pro-Hong Kong democracy group attended a prayer meeting. Vancouver Police were called to protect the church and escort the worshippers past the gauntlet of flag-waving, camera-toting Mainland Chinese.

Global Chinese Press fired editor in chief Lei Jin in 2017 after he wanted to publish an obituary of Nobel Prize winning Liu Xiaobo. A year earlier, columnist Bing Chen Gao was fired after a criticizing China’s foreign minister, Wan Yi, for berating a journalist at an Ottawa news conference.

Chow did not reply for comment. Neither did NDP caucus communications director Ed May nor communications officer Emily Della Mattia.

Chow is a former president of the CBA and former Vancouver city councillor. CBC president Hilbert Yiu was a guest of the Chinese government in Beijing last fall for 70th anniversary events.

Under Yiu, the CBA has bought ads defending Xi Jinping’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong that has led to the arrest of protesters with flags and signs containing slogans critical of the CCP.

Canada has condemned Beijing’s crackdown on free speech and suspended the extradition treaty with Hong Kong. China is facing growing international pressure over the internment of more than a million Muslims in Xinjiang concentration camps and the hostage-taking of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in retaliation for the 2018 arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport.

Yongtao Chen (left) and Hilbert Yiu (right) at China’s 70th anniversary celebration in Beijing.

“Our governments should be defending our democracy, human rights and Canadian values,” Li said. “For the NDP government to place advertisements in those obviously pro-CCP media is a real mocking of British Columbians’ beliefs of free speech and freedom of press. It is a slap on our face.”

Chow met with Communist Party officials in China in late 2018 to brief them about plans for a Chinese-Canadian history museum in B.C. Last September, he attended events in celebration of 70 years of Communist rule in China, including the consulate’s banquet at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Chow represented the B.C. government at a ceremony in April at the Chinese consulate to receive gifts of masks for hospitals.

BC Liberal MLA Teresa Wat was international trade minister before Chow. Her expense file shows that the BC Liberals have also spent money with the same entities. There are invoices for $388.50 (Feb. 12, 2020), $420 (Feb. 5, 2020) and $525 (Sept. 7, 2019) from Dawa, $76 for the same CBA banquet Chow attended and $787.50 to Global Chinese Press on Aug. 21, 2019. A total of $2,197.

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