B.C. woman urges Trudeau to help free parents detained in China
Published Sunday, December 3, 2017 8:45PM EST
A young B.C. woman whose parents are detained in China is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help bring them home.
“I really hope that in your next several days in China, you will be able to get my parents home before you talk any free trade,” 24-year-old Amy Chang told CTV News Channel on Sunday, making a direct appeal to the prime minister.
“My parents are trapped in a country for a trade dispute, and when you are wanting to create more business opportunities for Canadians abroad, you also have to be able to protect Canadians abroad.”
The prime minster is currently in China for a four-day state visit. Canada and China, moreover, have recently been exploring the possibility of inking a free trade deal.
“Today, this is one case,” Chang said. “The moment you open this window of opportunities, you will have 10 cases, 20 cases -- so how can you help someone if you can’t even get my parents home?”
Her parents, John Chang and Allison Lu, have been detained in China since March, 2016. The pair, who own wineries in Ontario and B.C., have been accused by Chinese authorities of under-reporting the value of wine they export to Asia. While Lu has been released from custody, she is unable to leave China. Chang remains in a detention facility and has only been able to speak to his daughter through a lawyer.
“His health is deteriorating pretty quickly,” his daughter said. “His weight has [fallen] significantly. He has two tumours in his liver and it needs the proper medical attention which he’s not receiving right now. So, both my mom and I are very, very worried for my father’s health.”
Chang said she has visited Ottawa multiple times to seek help from senators and members of Parliament, but to little avail.
“Both my parents have been very, very strong contributors in the Canadian economy,” Chang said. “My father has been a big supporter of trade between Canada and China: he’s been on many trade delegations with the prime minister, he’s spoken at a lot of conferences on behalf of the embassies in China.”
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that he takes the case “very personally” and has raised it with his Chinese counterpart – something that he plans to do again in Beijing on Monday.
“We have voiced very clearly to the Chinese leadership our dissatisfaction and our concern,” Champagne said, according to The Canadian Press. “This is a matter that should not have led to the type of actions that was taken."
For Chang, talk isn’t enough.
“When something like this happens to him for a simple trade dispute, you would expect that the country would step in and help a family out and get their citizens back home,” she said. “But it’s been 20 months and it’s been very, very difficult.”
With files from The Canadian Press