Kerry Jang: “agnostic” about Communism

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The Chinese flag flying outside the statehouse in Olympia

It’s considered a matter of courtesy to fly another country’s flag when one of its representatives is visiting. That doesn’t mean people have to like it. Last year, when Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai flew to Olympia, Washington, to meet with that state’s governor, Jay Inslee, the Chinese flag was hoisted outside the State Capitol – only to be pulled down by a group of private citizens who found its presence there disgraceful. A few days ago, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Czech Republic, Chinese flags lined the route from the airport into Prague. As in Olympia, citizens pulled a couple of the flags down and replaced them with Tibetan flags.

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The Vancouver ceremony

Also this month – specifically, on October 1 – a Chinese flag was raised outside the City Hall in Vancouver, Canada. But it was not because some Chinese dignitary was in town. No, it was done in recognition of China’s National Day. The flag-raising ceremony was organized by a group calling itself the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations. And the flag wasn’t the whole of it: two of the speakers at the event, a Vancouver Councilman and third-generation Chinese-Canadian named Kerry Jang and a Member of Parliament named Joe Peschisolido, wore red scarves, which were part of the uniform worn by the cruel Red Guards during Mao Zedong’s so-called Cultural Revolution.

This spectacle didn’t sit well with many locals. Peschisolido himself later claimed that he was unaware of the significance of the red scarves, and said that his remarks outside City Hall had included affirmations of “the importance of human rights, the importance for democracy, the importance of freedom of the press and freedom of one’s faith.”

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Kerry Jang

But Jang was unrepentant. Describing himself as “agnostic” about Chinese Communism, he attributed initial criticism of the event to “ignorance and racism.” But its most vocal critics turned out to be his fellow Chinese-Canadians. Meena Wong, a local politician who had been a child in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, said she was “dumbfounded” at the sight of “my city councillor in my city hall raising the flag wearing the symbol of loyalty to communism.” On October 6, a Chinese-American group called the Alliance of the Guard of Canadian Values – which, as we saw yesterday, had recently opposed a Maoist concert in nearby Richmond – held a public protest against the Vancouver flag ceremony and demanded Jang’s resignation.

jang_thumbDuring the last decade, charged the group’s head, Louis Huang, the Beijing government had vastly expanded its influence in Canada – “not only in our government organizations, but also in the hundreds of Chinese associations in Canada.” This development, Huang warned, represented a threat to “the foundation of our freedom and democracy, the loyalty to our country and our national security.”

As a result of the protest, Vancouver authorities said they were re-examining their policies regarding displays of foreign flags. And Jang, while repeating  his claim that many critics of the ceremony “just hate all Chinese,” also sought to slough off responsibility for wearing a red scarf, maintained that someone else had tied it around his neck and that he was scared to remove it lest he cause an “international incident.” Now there’s the kind of character, principle, and resolve you want in an elected leader.

The West Is Red

maoOn August 26, we reported that friends of the Chinese Communist regime planned to hold concerts at the Sydney and Melbourne city halls in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of Chairman Mao’s death. The two events were being paid for by a long list of sponsors – pro-Communist “cultural exchange associations,” Beijing-linked “media groups,” a Chinese-Australian-owned construction firm, a Chinese-Australian financial services group, and so on. As we noted, the promotional materials for the concerts were nothing but sheer propaganda, celebrating Mao as a beloved, charming hero who brought his country peace, democracy, and greatness.

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Shangxiao Han, an organizer of the anti-concert protests in Australia

The planned concerts, however, were opposed by many Chinese-Australians whose families had been victims of Mao’s bloodthirsty dictatorship. Indeed, this and other such pro-Beijing events had in recent years underscored the rift between Chinese-Australians whose families had fled Mao’s China decades ago and more recently arrived Chinese immigrants who have business connections to the current Communist regime. When plans for the Mao memorial concerts were made public, several anti-Maoist Chinese-Australians formed the Embrace Australian Values Alliance and posted online petitions calling for the concerts’ cancellation.

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John Hu, founder of the Embrace Australian Values Alliance

In our August 26 post, we indicated that the city governments in both Sydney and Melbourne had responded to the petition by throwing their hands up: they’d rented out space to the concert organizers and had no power to cancel them.

That wasn’t the end of it, however. On September 1, news came that both events were off. Municipal authorities in Sydney had put the kibosh on the planned concert in that city owing to “concerns over public and patron safety.” As for the Melbourne concert, it had been called off by the organizers. The Embrace Australian Values Alliance applauded the decision of the Sydney city fathers but promised that their “resistance against Maoism’s invasion into Australia” would continue, and that they would organize organize events raising public awareness of the “dangers of Mao poison and red poison.”

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Protesters in Richmond, B.C.

Australia isn’t the only Western country that’s experiencing a worrying upswing in Communist Chinese influence – and a rise in public events celebrating Mao’s legacy. While the concerts in Sydney and Melbourne were stopped in time, eight thousand miles away another another such event went ahead as scheduled. In Richmond, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver, a Mao memorial concert took place on September 3.

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The Richmond concert

As in Australia, the event – at which performers sang The East Is Red (the Chinese national anthem during the Cultural Revolution) and a song praising Mao as “China’s saviour” – outraged many local residents of Chinese ancestry, about thirty of whom held a protest outside the concert. The protesters belonged to the Alliance of the Guard of Canadian Values, a group of Chinese-Canadians whose goal is to “spread and embrace Canadian values to immigrant Chinese communities.” Describing Mao as “the biggest tyrant in human history,” the group’s founder, Beijing-born Louis Huang, said that his grandmother, now 103 years old, had been a prisoner in one of Mao’s labor camps.

As it happens, Maoists in British Columbia have been keeping Huang and his group busy lately. More tomorrow.