Organizer Fennela Sung speaks to dozens of people protesting the Chinese consulate reception at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

‘Shame on you’: Demonstrators protest China-sponsored reception at UBCM

Protestors point to detained Canadians and a harsh crackdown on Hong Kong

“Shame on you! Shame on you!”

Those were the words of dozens who gathered outside the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver Wednesday evening to protest the Chinese consulate reception taking place at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

The protest was organized by the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong and was sparked by worsening relations between Canada and China.

“Canadians including Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavrog are being held hostage in Beijing,” organizer Fenella Sung told the crowd.

“For UBCM to accept funding from the Chinese consulate is a total betrayal of Canadian voters.”

The UBCM accepts $6,000 from the Chinese government to run the event, which has been an annual fixture at the convention since at least 2013.

Relations between the two countries began to worsen after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was detained by Canadian authorities at the Vancouver airport in December. She is currently facing extradition to the United States where she is wanted for allegedly defrauding multiple financial institutions in a breach of U.S.-imposed bans on dealings with Iran.

Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, and Spavor, a consultant, were detained by Chinese authorities later that month.

READ MORE: Consular officials visit Canadian Michael Kovrig detained in China

Sung also took aim at other Chinese government actions, including the harsh crackdown on Hong Kong protestors and Uyghur internment camps, as well as their influence on Canadian politics.

“We must ask mayors and councillors: while sipping communist China’s wine under the pretext of relationship building, will you say you are not influenced at all? Are you not persuaded to look at them with another lens?” Sung asked.

“Have you thought about the implication of the Chinese Communist Party’s red money that floods our housing.”

READ MORE: Municipal leaders support banning foreign sponsorship of UBCM amid worsening China relations

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, who has been outspoken against the Chinese consulate reception at UBCM, said not attending the reception was a “matter of principle” for him.

“There is nothing right about taking a financial contribution from a foreign government that is engaged in actions that are completely hostile to the interests of our country and our people, that are repressing their own people

that have millions of Uyghurs locked up in modern-day concentration camps and are brutally cracking down on people in Hong Kong,” West said.

“I feel confident in telling you this is the last time this immoral, embarrassing event is going to take place.”

Following his speech, West and other elected officials, including others from Port Coquitlam and some from White Rock and Revelstoke, took two boxes of Timbits inside the reception.

Protestors had asked West to give the Timbits to Chinese consulate officials to give to Kovrig and Spavor. The boxes were not accepted, and security cleared them from where West left them at the door.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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