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HomeBusinessVideo shows Richmond city councillor celebrating Lunar New Year with Chinese military supporter who donated to her re-election

Video shows Richmond city councillor celebrating Lunar New Year with Chinese military supporter who donated to her re-election

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Bob Mackin

A human rights activist said it was “very alarming and disheartening” to see a Richmond civic politician in a video from a private Lunar New Year party with a campaign donor who supports China’s military. 

Ivy Li of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong said Coun. Alexa Loo “crossed another threshold” when she attended the house party to ring in the Year of the Rabbit.

Richmond Coun. Alexa Loo (left) with James Wu Jiaming at a Lunar New Year party. (WeChat/Wu)

The full, nearly three-minute video posted Jan. 23 to Liberal MP Joyce Murray’s WeChat account shows Loo talking in the kitchen and later dancing in the living room with party host James Wu Jiaming of the Canada-China City Friendship Association and Dawa News publisher Zaixin Ma.

Music includes the traditional new year song “Gong Xi, Gong Xi” and “Never-Setting Sun on the Grasslands,” which praises Mao Zedong, whose policies led to the deaths of as many as 45 million people.  

Also present was Wang Dianqi, the honorary chair of the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations (CACA), a Richmond organization that participates with the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office — an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence program. 

Before the September 2021 federal election, Wang and Wu were part of a group that campaigned with Liberal Parm Bains, the eventual Steveston-Richmond East winner.

At the Lunar New Year party, Wang wore a traditional red silk jacket and handed out red new year envelopes inside the front door. His name appears in Loo’s Elections B.C. campaign finance disclosure as a $500 donor to her 2022 re-election.

Loo did not respond to requests for comment. A reporter reached Loo by phone on Feb. 16 and introduced himself, but Loo then said “oh, sorry, I can’t hear you very well” and disconnected. She did not answer subsequent calls, text or email messages. 

“So what kind of support she wanted to show by attending this private house party?” Li asked. “To show support to the host, who is a well-known United Front figure, to give face to the donor of her campaign? Does it mean that the councillor felt certain obligations to this donor?”

Richmond Coun. Alexa Loo with Chinese diplomats and campaign donor Wang Dianqi (Phoenix TV)

A 2019 report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians warned that one of the United Front’s aims is to influence foreign politicians to adopt pro-China positions. CACA did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Loo finished fourth in the race for Richmond’s eight council seats last October, with 13,485 votes. She was eighth-place in both 2014 and 2018. As a BC Liberal candidate in 2020’s provincial election, Loo fell 179 votes shy of the NDP’s Henry Yao in Richmond South Centre.

Two weeks before civic election day in 2022, Loo waved Chinese and Canadian flags in front row seats at a Chinese national day event outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Deputy consul general Wang Chengjun was seated to Loo’s left and Wang Dianqi to her right. 

Loo told the Richmond News that she was unaware of the 4th Chinese Culture and Arts Festival’s connection to CCP supporters. “My goal is to bring people together,” she said.

Richmond Coun. Alexa Loo (right) with Wang Dianqi at a Lunar New Year party. (WeChat/Wu)

Wang Dianqi visited China twice in 2019: for the May gathering of the World Chinese Association, where he reportedly met President Xi Jinping, and in October to celebrate 70 years of CCP rule, where Xi headlined a grand military parade.

Wang told the Overseas Chinese Network website in 2017 that he had paid nearly 2 million yuan ($390,000) to “children and soldiers of the motherland.” In the same year, he brought supplies to soldiers in his hometown in Zhejiang, China.

In 2016, Wang toured a People’s Liberation Army Navy ship in Victoria with Chinese diplomats and toasted the vessel’s officers at an Empress Hotel reception. Lahoo.ca reported he said “the strength of the Chinese army is a strong guarantee of world peace and stability.”

Loo’s city council duties include chairing the community safety committee. Chief Supt. Dave Chauhan, officer in charge of the Richmond RCMP, told the December meeting that a national security investigation was underway into allegations the Wenzhou Friendship Society operated an overseas Chinese police station.

“Local government representatives get invitations from all types of organizations throughout the Lower Mainland,” said Kash Heed, the former B.C. Solicitor General elected to Richmond city council last October. “It’s incumbent upon any of these elected members to do their due diligence, to ensure they’re not caught up in any other foreign influence political moves.”

Wang Dianqi at a Chinese consulate countdown to Beijing 2022.

Loo rose to prominence with Canada’s snowboarding team at the Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. She attended a Beijing 2022 countdown event in Richmond in January 2022 with then-Consul General Tong Xiaoling and also appeared on a Phoenix TV program called “Political Differences Cannot Hinder the Beijing Winter Olympics.” 

The Canadian government endorsed a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022, due to China’s mass-incarceration of Uyghur Muslims. Loo told pro-Beijing Phoenix TV that she disagreed with the idea of athletes criticizing a foreign government’s human rights record.

A reporter asked Loo at the time to comment about her televised remarks, but she said she had no time for an interview. 

Last November, Loo spoke at the swearing-in of CACA’s new board and sat in the front row with Bains and new Consul General Yang Shu.

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