- Reaction score
Not really clear where to put this, but it certainly speaks poorly of how well "we" acculturalize people into accepting and adopting Canadian values when they come to Canada to live:
Canadian veterans of People's Liberation Army form association, sing of China's martial glory
Members of the Canada Chinese Veteran’s Society like to gather and pay homage to the forces that crushed the Tiananmen Square protests
Dressed in the uniform of China’s People’s Liberation Army, the 40 or so singers stood proudly in neat rows and belted out an old favourite.
I am a Soldier talks of defeating the Japanese, vanquishing Nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek in the Communist revolution and being tested by the revolutionary war. The performance “brought forth a whirlwind of Chinese military spirit in a foreign land,” said a report on the concert.
The recital earlier this month at the Centre for the Performing Arts in Richmond Hill, Ont., was not offered by a visiting martial choir from Beijing.
It was the work of a surprising new Canadian association, dedicated to retired troops of the China’s People’s Liberation Army or PLA — China’s armed forces — who are now settled in this country.
The group’s creation last year raises intriguing questions about how far new Canadians should go in honouring their motherlands, which in China’s case is both a major trading partner and an authoritarian adversary with an abysmal human-rights record.
Members of the Canada Chinese Veteran’s Society say they’re merely connecting with people who share a similar military past, as they build new lives here.
Others are not so impressed that newcomers would pay homage to the forces that crushed the Tiananmen Square protests, occupied Tibet and stand ominously in the background of the Hong Kong demonstrations.
“I strongly condemn this kind of activity. I don’t know in what degree they call themselves Canadian,” said Anna Wang, a Chinese-Canadian writer who just published a book detailing her first-hand observations of the Tiananmen protests. “I think they are taking advantage of the freedom of speech in western countries.”
The veterans group seems to be part of a rise in expressions of support for Beijing among the diaspora, though the vast majority of Chinese Canadians remain faithful to their adopted country, said Wang.
Defence minister ripped for attending gala honouring Chinese Communist Party anniversary
Host on Chinese-language station in Toronto says he was fired for criticizing Beijing
Hong Kong democracy advocates angry after Ottawa-funded group buys ad backing China's side
Political scientist Sherman Lai, a retired PLA lieutenant-colonel himself, shook his head, figuratively speaking, when told about the Canadian group. He is not a member.
“They took advantage of democracy, of the Canadian system,” said Lai, an adjunct professor at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. “But communism, the PLA is not compatible with democracy and the rule of law … Before their nostalgia, there is a very bloody history.”
That PLA history includes fighting Canadian and other UN troops in the Korean War, he noted.
Days before the Richmond Hill concert, China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic with a grand parade that showed off a massively expanded and modernized military.
A group salutes in unison the flags of Canada, China and the PLA during a 2018 retreat in Ontario’s cottage country. Easyca.ca
The society was registered as a federal non-profit corporation last August, and has gathered since for what appear from photographs to be cheerful meetings over food and drinks. An article in the Chinese-language Easyca.ca news site depicts a retreat in Ontario’s cottage country last year where the group saluted in unison the flags of Canada, China and the PLA.
In another shot, casually clad male and female veterans reproduce the Chinese military’s distinctive, high-stepping marching style in front of a People’s Republic flag.
At the Richmond Hill concert, which featured a number of different Chinese performers, the group’s choir sang two songs, Love in Canada and the Maoist-era I am a Soldier.
“I am a soldier, from the common people,” goes the tune, reflecting anger at last century’s brutal Japanese occupation of China and referencing the Kuomintang forces the Communists beat in the 1949 revolution. “I defeated the Japanese dog bandits, extinguished the army of Chiang Kai-shek. The revolutionary war tested me, and left me even stronger.”
Casually dressed veterans reproduce the Chinese military’s distinctive marching style in front of a People’s Republic flag. Easyca.ca
Fei Gao, the society’s chairman, said he was unable to answer questions about the organization.
But the Easyca.ca article suggests the society was founded as a forum for people with common experiences, who could help each other as they settle in Canada. It notes that both Canadian and Chinese anthems were played at one event, and encourages members to contribute to “the beautiful country of Canada.”
Military service is theoretically mandatory for all Chinese adults but in practice only some are recruited, said Lai. Many PLA veterans have likely emigrated to Canada, though their service would have complicated that process — if they were honest about it, he said. Lai, an infantry soldier in China’s 1979 war with Vietnam, said he had to undergo a two-hour security interview himself before being admitted.
In a free country, the society members have every right to commemorate their military backgrounds and retain a fondness for their country of origin, noted Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at RMC.
But “if you take on Canadian citizenship, then you sign up for a certain loyalty to our country, and particularly loyalty to our values, our way of life,” he said.
That may be incompatible with proud membership in a veterans group whose military reports directly to the Chinese Communist Party and contributes to “instability both domestically and internationally,” said Leuprecht.
Wang, a Beijing native whose Tiananmen book, Inconvenient Memories, was published in May, suggested the leaders of the veterans group are likely China loyalists, while some other members may simply feel nostalgic for their youths.
But even casual participation cannot be justified, she argued.
“We all said our oath of citizenship,” said Wang, who came to Canada in 2006. “The moment we became a Canadian, we swore to be loyal to our adopted country and abandon our loyalty to the home country. If they are permanent residents, I suggest the government take this record into consideration when they apply for citizenship.”