Former envoy David Mulroney says official warning needed for Canadians doing business in China

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A former Canadian ambassador to China says Ottawa should issue a prominent and official warning to Canadian business people that commercial disputes in China could result in their being detained and having their passports seized.

David Mulroney, who was this country’s envoy to China from 2009 to 2012, says the case of two Canadian wine merchants held captive in Shanghai is a troubling sign of a bigger problem.

He said this should be of particular concern for the Canadian government right now, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to soon announce that Canada has agreed to China’s request to commence free-trade negotiations. Canada would be the first Group of Seven country to consent to bilateral trade talks with Beijing.

 John Chang, a Richmond, B.C., businessman has been imprisoned in China for more than 20 months over a customs dispute that has been criminalized. His wife, Allison Lu, has had her passport confiscated so she cannot leave China.

Mr. Chang, who is battling cancer while in detention, was celebrated in Canada for his entrepreneurial skills and regularly participated in trade missions to China with Canadian government officials; he even hosted Chinese athletes at his Richmond winery during the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was named an RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant award winner in 2015 for his wine business.

 Mr. Mulroney said a high-profile warning is required because such incidents are not isolated.
“It’s necessary because it’s happening. And it’s happening to people who were exemplars of everything the Canadian government wants to say about doing business with China. They were part of China trade missions.”
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