Chinese trade barbs in British Columbia election campaign

Former Guangdong official running for leftist party in British Columbia poll is accused of being a secret member of China's Communist Party

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 May, 2013, 3:30am

Campaigning for British Columbia's provincial election has been marred by vicious infighting among the Chinese community, with one candidate branded a secret member of China's Communist Party.

Frank Yunrong Huang, running for the leftist New Democratic Party (NDP) in Vancouver's heavily Chinese district of Richmond Centre, was also disparaged for supposedly having inadequate English skills by one of his critics.

The attacks were launched by Dr Kenneth Fung, a doctor who was an ethnic affairs adviser to Premier Christy Clark of the centre-right BC Liberals, and Lawrence Chen, who is standing against Huang for the Conservative Party in next Tuesday's polls.

Huang, a former provincial official in Guangdong and a manager of the China Travel Service in Hong Kong, admitted this week that he was a member of the Communist Party for nine years but says he cut ties to the party before moving to Canada in 2001.

He said membership was expected of him, and quite normal for a provincial employee on the mainland. Huang, whose most recent job was editor of a Chinese-language newspaper in Vancouver, said he quit the Communist Party in June 2000, and that the NDP was aware of his former membership.

But Fung, a University of British Columbia medical professor who was chairman of Clark's Chinese Community Advisory Council, said that Huang represented a possible security risk. He said he contacted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service with his suspicions that Huang was an "underground communist" but got no response from the agency.

In a group e-mail to the media, Fung said BC "deserves to be informed about this dangerously flawed candidate". In a later interview with the National Post newspaper this week, Fung reportedly said he was worried about Huang gaining access to confidential Canadian data, and believed that he was still a member of the Communist Party.

As many Chinese immigrants may know, many Chinese, they work in the Chinese government and they were expected to join the party because of the special political system in China
Frank Yunrong Huang

Chen, who, like Huang, is a mainland immigrant, held a press conference on Tuesday to outline his own concerns about Huang. He said that Huang had told him he was still a communist when Huang interviewed him for a story for the People's Daily several years ago. Huang responded that he was freelancing for the state newspaper and denied telling Chen he was a communist.

The attacks by Fung, who said he supported the Liberals but was not a member of the party, did not stop at Huang's political affiliations. Fung admitted that he phoned a local radio station under a fake name on April 21 to blast Huang's language skills.

"I got news for you. You know the NDP is running a candidate in Richmond Centre, by the name of Frank Huang, who can't really communicate in English. So I suggest maybe you guys give him a call and do an interview with him and see how good it is," said Fung, posing on CKNW as "Mike of Vancouver".

Huang did not respond to requests for an interview with the South China Morning Post. However, in a video posted on the Vancouver Sun's website he said: "As many Chinese immigrants may know, many Chinese, they work in the Chinese government and they were expected to join the party because of the special political system in China."

Richmond Centre is currently held comfortably by the BC Liberals' Rob Howard, who is not seeking re-election. For the first time, the riding is likely to have a Chinese member in the provincial legislative assembly. All three main parties have a Chinese candidate, the Liberals' hopeful being Hong Kong-born media CEO Teresa Wat.