Back in 2010 former CSIS leader Richard Fadden warned Canadians that some of our politicians might be under the influence of foreign governments. Fadden explained how CSIS was concerned that cabinet ministers in two provincial governments and elected officials in three BC municipal governments might be at-risk. In particular, he warned about influence by China’s communist government.
Last year the Globe and Mail reported that CSIS had concerns about how Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan “had developed too close a relationship with China’s consulate in Toronto.” The Globe explained how Chan had become a conduit to the Chinese community and about Canadian concerns that country has engaged in economic espionage. China denied this accusation, they’d never steal another other country’s ideas and patents- right?
Let me introduce you to Hello Kongzi, a rip-off of the famous Japanese character Hello Kitty- only, HK isn’t a cat, but a cutified image of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. On February 8th, Kongzi made a visit to the steps of Canada’s parliament for a soft power extravaganza in the form of a Chinese New Year flash mob. The event featured Canadian cadets, songs about wheat production & taking from Canada, and Liberal Environment & Climate Change minister Catherine McKenna.
What Happened During the Flash Mob?
It was cold in Ottawa on February 8th, “feels like -19 degrees” it stated on the event’s video. Only a handful of people were walking around on Parliament Hill; a woman walking her dog, people taking their pictures with a selfie stick, a kid with maple leaf gloves and another with an I ♥ New York Hat. Most appeared to be tourists.
The stairs leading up to parliament were covered with about 50 small plastic Hello Kongzi statues, laid out symmetrically in a triangle shape. The tourists with the selfie stick seen at the beginning of the video were later filmed taking their pictures in front of the statues. There was no mention of what the statues were or why they were placed there.
Shortly after that the statues were cleared away to make space for the main event. The video showed images of the tourists as they were pleasantly surprised to see a group of cadets marching down the steps carrying their instruments. After the cadets arrived someone brought a drum set, PA system, and a crowd of Chinese people gathered on the steps behind of them.
As the cadets began to play, two white (presumably) Canadian men began energetically singing in Mandarin. Their first song was Rock ‘N Roll on the New Long March. The Long March was a Red Army military event that marked Mao Zedong’s communist government’s ascent to power over Chinese nationalists. The men sang about rifles, cannons, and bombers- it’s unknown if the cadets knew they were playing to glorify the Red Army, one can guess that they didn’t. The film’s credits identify the cadets as members of the “Brass and Reed Band from 742 National Capital Air Cadet Squadron”.
The next song Canada, Everyone Takes plays off on (what I’m told by a Chinese friend) is based on the phrase “加拿大，大家拿。” and is about coming to Canada to generate wealth. One of the Canadians sang in Mandarin about our country’s mountains, lakes, blue sky, flowers, ice and snow. They also sang about how Chinese immigrants “work hard”, “send money home to dad and mom”, that “Chinese immigrants are powerful”, and how they’re “marching towards internationalism”. A small froup of First Nations people and a man with a hockey stick danced while the singer expressed the joys of multiculturalism.
Next the Canadian singers moved to the side and two Chinese singers joined in to sing a controversial tune called Descendants of the Dragon. Written by Taiwanese artist Hou DeJian, the song has been criticised as an example of Han chauvinism- a term made popular by Mao Zedong when he criticised China’s ethnocentrism related to the Han Chinese, and their unfortunate habit of overlooking of ethnic minorities. One of the lines in the song includes “Black eyes, black hair, yellow skin, forever a descendant of the dragon”.
This was followed by the theme tune for the Hello Kitty ripoff Hello Kongzi. The singers sang about Confucius’s wisdom, how he “can see through the entire world”, how “he’s majestic looking but he has a nice face”; and about “filial piety”- the patriarchal belief of virtue of respect for one’s father, elders, and ancestors. It was a whimsical song, singers threw snowballs at each other, and a group wearing red hoodies stood in the snow making an outline of Hello Kongzi.
The next song On The Hopeful Field was originally sung by Peng Liyuan, wife of Xi Jinping– the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Liyuan is a bit of controversial character- in 1989 the lifelong member of the People’s Liberation Army serenaded the martial law troops at Tiananmen Square. The song covers many typical communist themes including wheat production and housing for the masses. The music was played by Canadian cadets (I was a Sea Cadet and would have been deeply upset if they did this to me).
The final song Happy New Year by China Doll was mostly whimsical and fun. That said, some of the language had the taste of communist propaganda- like “every household is happy and carefree” and talk about “good harvests”. Then, at the very end of the video, they featured a picture of environment minister Catherine McKenna holding a statue of Hello
Kitty Kongzi. Like the cadets, it’s unknown if McKenna was aware she was participating in a communist propaganda film- but could this be why she’s so passionately opposed to the Victims of Communism Memorial?
Who Was Behind The Event?
The first organization mentioned in the video’s credits is an Ottawa-based non-profit called the China-Canada Cultural Development Association. The CCCDA lists several media organizations as their partners. On the Canadian side, they work with the CBC, Global News, Omni, and the Chinese Canadian broadcaster Fairchild TV. Their Chinese partners include the PRC government news agencies Xinhia and China News Service, state-run TV broadcaster CCTV, and the English language newspaper China Daily.
Their board of directors is led by Rudy Gao, the publisher of Blue Sky Media Inc, another one of the CCCDA’s media partners- his name is mentioned in the credits. Board member Jessie Wang was formerly the CCCDA’s event coordinator- she received her BA from the Beijing Language and Culture University and her MA from the Université de Montréal.
Non-Chinese board member Mark Hammond is the interim director of Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, a theatre that hosts many Chinese events. It’s unknown if his position with the CCCDA was considered by the Sony Centre as a potential conflict-of-interest- his position on the CCCDA’s board isn’t mentioned on his LinkedIn page.
The show was produced by SPARK Show Production, a Toronto-based event organizer that claims to have run over 100 events and 700 shows primarily targeted towards the Chinese community. SPARK’s web page boasts that the video of the New Year’s event reached over 30 million hits – almost equal to the entire population of Canada! That sad, the YouTube page only indicates about 189k hits, and most Canadians have never heard of this event.
So where did all of the hits come from? China of course! This magnificent piece of propaganda was never meant for Canadian audiences- Catherine McKenna was staring in a bona fide Chinese propaganda film!
Hello Kongzi: World Traveller
Unlike China’s minorities, as Han Chinese male, Hello Kongzi enjoys easy access to an international passport and the right to travel when and as he pleases. His Japanese cousin Hello Kitty might be globally Ubiquitous, but her Chinese knockoff certainly gets around a lot. It appears that he’s a party member too- much of his travel was sponsored by governmental bodies.
HK travelled to Montreal a few days after the Parliament Hill flash mob where he appeared at the annual Lumière festival. The event was sponsored by the city of Shenzhen and featured a tent with a giant blow-up version of his face connected to the front of a tent.
The Shangdong provincial tourism agency sponsored a spring tour for HK visiting New York and Los Angeles- the tour included an interactive multimedia production targeted at drawing tourists into the region. The event featured shows at Grand Central station and Times Square.
In September 2015, HK travelled to Pakistan where he appeared in at the “Salam Confucious” event at the Pakistan-China Institute in Islamabad. His other international journeys include appearances in Taiwan, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Finland, UK, France, Italy and Australia.
Some Closing Thoughts:
If you’re familiar with Canadian values and Chinese politics you’ve probably already figured out how absurd this month’s event was. To put the situation into perspective, let’s reframe it as a patriotic Canadian event held in China.
Imagine a group of Canadians holding a flash mob on Tiananmen Square that was primarily targeted towards an audience back in the Great White North. The event features “Captain Canada”, a knockoff of the Marvel Comics superhero Captain America. The mob features a band of cadets from the Chinese Liberation Army and Chinese people singing in English glorifying how the white man conquered First Nations and bragging about how they built the greatest Capitalist economic system in the world. Topping it off, a Chinese minister is recruited to hold a plastic Captain Canada statue and dance with the crowd!
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Not only is it entirely unlikely that the Chinese government would allow this to happen – and it would be offensive to even suggest doing it – but one could imagine that if the Chinese public learned about it they’d probably call out for the head of the minister and whoever signed the permit.
But this is Canada, and our media is too enamoured with the Liberal government to even ask questions about such things. We’re also too “nice” to question other country’s wishes to film propaganda events on the steps our parliament- racist music, or not. There’ll probably never be an inquiry as to why McKenna allowed herself to become China’s useful idiot.
Captain Canada isn’t impressed. Rumour has it that he plans to kick Hello Kangzi’s ass and has a few choice words for Catherine McKenna next time he sees her. Justin Trudeau’s admiration for China’s “basic dictatorship” still stands strong. Enjoy the video!
“Back in 2010 former CSIS leader Richard Fadden warned Canadians that some of our politicians might be under the influence of foreign governments.”
As if being under an absentee head of state that’s unelected, un-Canadian, undemocratic, anti-democratic, anti-Canadian that rules for life and passes power shared with several other countries like property within the family isn’t obvious enough.