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A ‘friend of China’ has a message for China

By Ian Waddell      

Right now, China’s under a world of criticism for its early actions in the COVID-19 global crisis, and judging by its ambassadors’ statements in Europe, Australia, and Canada, it’s lashing out undiplomatically at critics.

VANCOUVER—On a winter’s night in 1980, I left a dinner reception at the Chinese Embassy, to find my rumpled Volkswagen and was surprisingly followed by the Chinese ambassador. I took the opportunity to ask him why I was invited as the dinner was full of senior politicians, including Tommy Douglas. I was the only newly elected MP invited, not to mention I was 30 years younger than the other dinner guests. The ambassador mentioned that I had unexpectedly won an otherwise Liberal riding with the help of a new group in the Chinese-Canadian community. During the campaign, I backed merchants in Chinatown who wanted to put their barbecued meats in their storefront windows. My opponent backed the Health Canada ban. After the election, the meats were able to be displayed in the windows, and my motion recognizing the contribution  of Chinese-Canadians passed. But I was still a nobody in the Ottawa political world. As he helped me into my car, the ambassador said we consider you a “friend of China.”

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