The CCFA Greater Vancouver Chapter focuses on encouraging Canadian entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized businesses to take active interest in and advantage of China’s rise in a global economy.
Canada-China Friendship Association, Greater Vancouver Chapter
Modern Canada-China friendship dates back almost a century to the downfall of China’s last
emperor. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Father of modern China revered by Chinese Nationalists and
Communists alike, made a historic visit to British Columbia on the eve of his 1911 Republican
Revolution. The great statesman spoke to Chinese communities in Victoria and Vancouver,
eliciting moral and monetary support for the overthrow of the corrupt and oppressive Qing
Equally endearing to Chinese people, especially on the mainland, were the heroic exploits
of Dr. Norman Bethune who gave his life saving Chinese soldiers in their resistance against
invading Japanese armies in the early 1930s. To this day, Dr. Bethune’s name is a household
word in China, with older folk able to quote from Chairman Mao’s famous eulogy to the great
humanitarian. A recent Chinese prime-time TV drama series on the great Canadian has rekindled
interest in his person and in things Canadian.
In the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, when tight economic sanctions were
imposed on China, Canadian Agriculture Minister Alvin Hamilton, defying heavy US and
domestic pressure, helped orchestrate major sales of grain to China, then stricken with widespread
famine and malnutrition following the disastrous policies of the Great Leap Forward. Officials
recall the shipments of Canadian grain as a god send that helped save millions of lives. Historians
agree the pioneering wheat sales formed a major watershed in the evolution of bilateral relations.
During that era when anti-communist hysteria and anti-China sentiment permeated Canadian
society, people to people contact with mainland China remained virtually non-existent. For its
part, China had plummeted into the tumult of the Cultural Revolution, shutting itself off from the
outside world. The earliest CCFAs were one of a mere handful of channels through which
Canadians could get any information about let alone access to China. However, pioneered by
leading Canada’s leftist personalities who embraced political radicalism, the CCFAs lingered on
the fringes of mainstream Canadian society.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau, one of Canada’s greatest and longest serving Prime Ministers had had
a life-long interest in China. He traveled through China during the civil turmoil just prior to the
founding of the People’s Republic and returned to China with a colleague in 1959, chronicling his
journey in his famous book Two Innocents in Red China. Following his first election victory in
1968, Trudeau engineered a strategic shift in Canada’s Asian foreign policy that led to the
establishment of diplomatic ties with China two years later, heralding the end of China’s
That turning point in Canada-China relations followed by Trudeau’s historic visit in 1973,
the first by a Canadian Prime Minister, spiked pent-up interest in China especially among
Canadian academics, students, and professionals. It promptly lead to the formation of broader
based Canada-China Friendship Associations (or Societies) across the country steered by such
luminaries as Dr. James Endicott and Prof. Paul Lin dedicated to promoting exchanges of various
kinds. Other activists namely Mr. Chan-Kin Ng helped to found the Montreal Chapter of the
Canada-China Society and Dr. Pei-Chih Hsieh was instrumental in setting up the Saskatchewan
Chapter of the CCFA.
CCFA members came from many walks of life including farmers, workers, academics,
professionals, retired civil servants and diplomats, and of course Chinese Canadians yearning
to learn more about China as normalcy was just being restored with the waning of Cultural
Revolution radicalism. For the next two decades, the CCFAs served as a special conduit for
communication and exchange between interested Canadians and their Chinese counterparts
under the auspices of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
In 1974, Zhou Enlai, China’s then ailing popular Premier, inaugurated the Four
Modernizations program that attempted to inject more pragmatism into economic policy.
Unfortunately, the state-led program became mired in the very politics that it was trying to
extricate. It was Deng Xiaoping’s gargantuan efforts in 1978 to resolutely set and stay the course
of reform and opening up and his repeated calls to deepen reform that sparked China’s remarkable
economic take-off and revolutionary social change over the next three decades. As a result,
Canada-China ties have witnessed a fundamental transformation.
Nowadays, Canadians flock to China as tourists, students, workers, and businessmen and
major Canadian businesses are entrenched in the Chinese market. At the same time, stereotypical
and often negative perceptions of China prevail in Canada, perpetuated in part by media slant
and shifts in geo-politics. In many ways, Canada has not been able to take advantage of its
great reputation in China, particularly over the past decade of China’s surging economic
growth. In spite of its positive image among Chinese people, its advanced technologies and
bountiful resources, Canada stands to lose out in the intense competition for Chinese minds and
pocketbooks. Most unfortunate is that Canada’s small and mid-sized companies have not been
able exploit the myriad of opportunities that exist in China.
It is with a desire to better convey China’s emergence as a great economic power that
likeminded Canadian businessmen gathered in August 2006 to form the Greater Vancouver
Chapter of the Canada-China Friendship Association. Building on the basic tenets of CCFAs
and in particular the success of the Ottawa-Gatineau CCFA under Chan-Kin Ng to promote
understanding and exchange, the Greater Vancouver Chapter focuses on encouraging Canadian
entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized businesses to take active interest in and advantage of
China’s rise in a global economy. Our approach differs from that of the Canada-China Business
Council which primarily serves the interests of Canada’s largest corporations and financial
Our Mission Statement is “to promote mutual cultural understanding and business interaction
between the peoples of Western Canada and China”.
The purposes of the society are:
- To develop and further friendship and understanding between the Canadian
peoples primarily in British Columbia and the Chinese peoples;
- To promote understanding of the People’s Republic of China, its institutions
- To promote cultural, educational, athletic, business, political and other exchanges
between Canada (and specifically the Surrey/White Rock area) and the People’s
Republic of China; and
- To raise funds to promote and develop the aims and objectives of the society.
CCFA Greater Vancouver aspires to become a platform for in-depth discussions of major issues
affecting China’s economic development and through its affiliate companies and its membership
a provider of linkages for Canadian entrepreneurs and small businessmen who wish to partake in
business ventures in China.
CCFA Greater Vancouver Chapter’s main partner in China continues to be the CPAFFC, a
state-funded non-governmental institution that promotes ties with foreign friendship groups
and individuals. Currently, the CPAFFC has links to over 550 groups and organizations in 130
countries around the world. Through the partnership, CCFA Greater Vancouver is able to tap into the vast
domestic Chinese business and other networks of the CPAFFC.