Report on China Forum 2014 CPAFFC
And Reception by SPAFFC

This year’s Canadian delegation’s members are all from Ottawa: Tracy Tian (leader), Nataly Azzi, Bassam Azzi, Gloria Goodine.

The Canadian delegation was received by the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries from Aug 29 to 31. We were treated nicely as foreign guests. The schedule was extra busy, but they showed us many places in Shanghai worth visiting. Ling Xiang (凌翔) was with us every day, acting as host and interpreter.

During the lunch with Little Star Arts Troupe’s Manager and Troupe Leader Wu Liang (吴亮), we discussed the nature of the troupe and its’ requirements to travel abroad for performances.

Little Star Arts School trains tens of thousands of children in performing arts. The youngest students start training at the age of 4. The students receive general arts training at first; the teachers choose talented students to continue in more specialized programs, such as singing and dancing. The students are very committed to their training. Their best performers get the chance to travel abroad. Only children between the ages of 8-14 are selected. The travel expenses are paid by the children’s family.

The troupe’s main mission when performing abroad is to have cultural exchange with a foreign country. The troupe would like Ottawa Chapter of CCFS to contact an event organizer of a competition or festival for the troupe to attend; have the festival organizers issue a letter of invitation to the troupe. Secure a venue. Contact local politicians (mayor) and embassy official to attend the event on the day of. The letter of invitation is crucial in convincing the children’s parents. The troupe will organize the trip and pay for flight, food and accommodation.

Wu Liang’s contact info: wuliang@smg.sh.cn
Cell: 86-135 0170 1741
Office: 86-21-5466 8873 Official website: www.littlestar.cn

During the dinner with Vice President of SPAFFC Zhou Yajun (周亚军), he expressed a firm commitment in coming to Ottawa to visit in 2015. The objective and date are still undecided. Whenever they have a firm date, we are expected to issue another letter of invitation. Tracy assured him we will do our best to arrange visits to their desired locations and meet knowledgeable people.

According to other officials of the Chinese government, a delegation is allowed only 5 days away from China, including travel time. If visiting multiple countries, 10 days. This is a new policy. If the Shanghai delegation decides to come to Canada, their trip is mostly likely to be concise. Visiting tourist destinations will not be a high priority.

VP Zhou Yajun’s contact info: Office 86-21-22161209 Fax 86-21-62552761
Ling Xiang’s info: lynnwing@126.com Office: 86-21-22161637 Fax 86-21-62158265

During Aug 31-Sept 5, the Canadian delegation attended the 2014 China Friendship Forum for American and Oceanian Countries in Guiyang and Zunyi, Guizhou Province. The other countries include: USA, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica and Tonga.

The forum was highly organized. Staff from Beijing and Guizhou are both present. The forum itself is only 1 day on Sept 1st. The Chinese and many delegation leaders, including myself made speeches. (Tracy made brief notes on all of the speeches, she can type them up by request) On a special note, the Chinese had a presentation on the legitimacy of the “U-shaped line” – China’s southern sea boarder, followed by Q&A.

For the rest of the days, we were shepherded to various parts of Guizhou Province by bus. The places we visited were very remote, long and rough bus rides. The Maotai factory and tea garden were interesting places, but not someplace one would spend a day to visit as a tourist. There were officials and speeches nearly every meal we had. The ancient town of Qingyan was very interesting; old temples, many small shops and sights. Nataly, Bassam and Tracy were all trilled to shoot arrows from a bow.

During the forum, Tracy had the opportunity to talk with some of the Chinese officials. Both Guiyang and Zunyi officials showed strong interest in visiting Canada soon. Therefore possible Chinese delegations coming to Canada. Staff from Guizhou Friendship Association would like to promote Guizhou internationally. They would like to work with us in the future to find ways to promote Guizhou as an ethnic minority province. Some of the ways may be a photo exhibition and ethnic performances.

Because we are foreign guests, the tours are guided, so the information feels somewhat filtered. On rare occasions, we get to talk to Chinese locals about their lives. This is not to fault the Chinese organizers. Tracy understands that the safety of the delegates is their priority. It’s just the logistics and police escort really eliminate random encounters one would have as a tourist.

People are encouraged to talk with each other during the forum. Most of the conversations are very relaxed. However, there is little to no opportunity to talk in depth with the Chinese officials individually. They disappear after meals and reappear later to give speeches. The staff is a better source of useful information.

The Shanghai trip was fantastic, but not likely to happen again soon. The friendship forum is likely to continue every two year; the next one is probably going to be held in Sichuan Province. Knowing it will continue, we should plan for it ahead of time to increase the number of future delegates. Only four coming from Canada is a little sad.

Tracy recommends this forum for people who never visited China before. The Chinese are incredibly generous hosts. A first visit to China hosted by the friendship forum will be a great first impression. Formalities like this forum are good ways for the Chinese to communicate face to face. This forum is also an opportunity to show them how we’ve continued to be friends of China.

Prepared by Tracy Tian and Nataly Azzi Oct 6, 2014

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