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Chinese Man Smuggles Turtles Destined for the Dinner Table Across Canada-US Border

Posted: 09/29/2014 9:49 am

redeared turtle

An affidavit filed with the US federal court on Tuesday revealed a Canadian resident of Windsor, Ontario was arrested for smuggling 51 turtles hidden under his sweatpants while attempting to cross the Canada-USA border at the Detroit-Windsor crossing, reports the Toronto Star.

READ: Shark Fin Washed In Hydrogen Peroxide Sold To Unwitting Consumers

Kai Xu has been charged with smuggling and illegally exporting fish or wildlife by a US court, and may be sentenced up to 10 years in a federal prison.

Xu was found to have 41 live turtles taped to his legs, and another ten turtles “hidden between his legs.”

READ: Foreigner Caught Smuggling Live Birds
in His Jeans at Guangzhou Airport

This collection of “family jewels” included Eastern box turtles, Red-eared sliders, and Diamondback terrapins and are estimated to be worth between $1,300 to $1,500.

Xu was apparently planning to board a flight to Shanghai, but the final destination for the leg-strapped turtles was likely on a dinner plate.

Ed Grace, deputy chief law enforcement officer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, noted that there is demand for the turtles in Asian food and collector markets. “Not just with turtles, I see it with ginseng, I see it with how wildlife in the United States can be, you know, coveted by collectors or for food markets,” he said.

Guangdong Province is often the final destination for a huge number of smuggled animals, many of which are intended for consumption. Previous cases include chinchillas, pangolins, another incident involving turtles, and another case of trying to stuff animals down one’s pants, this time involving birds.


Photo: the Star


China Can Now Sue Canada For Laws That Interfere With Chinese Interests

Posted: 09/18/2014 9:05 am

say no to fippa canada china treatyCanada’s government has approved a treaty that allows China to sue Canada for laws that interfere with Chinese interests, a controversial move that has sparked an outcry among Canadian citizens, reports Newsweek.

The Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was signed two years ago, but only recently ratified. The investment treaty allows China to challenge Canadian laws it finds detrimental to Chinese assets. The lawsuit is not required to be made known to the public until a settlement is awarded by a tribunal.

The treaty does not limit the size of damages, and will go into effect on October 1, China’s National Day. It will remain in effect until 2045.

Critics of the treaty include Gus Van Harten, Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, who wrote the following:

The treaty’s main role is to protect Chinese-owned assets from Canadian legislatures, governments, and courts, and vice versa (i.e corporate empowerment), though it is largely non-reciprocal since China’s interests/capital will be (and currently are) far greater than Canada’s current or anticipated investments in China.

The treaty has also drawn the criticism of Canada’s First Nations groups who see it as a threat to the government’s obligations to them. Brenda Sayers of the Hupacasath First Nation said last year:

This is really a court case for all citizens of Canada because it’s going to affect everyone negatively for a lot of different reasons, whether it’s to do with environmental, whether it’s to do with jobs, all kind of different areas. We’re all in this together.



Canadian Prime Minister Bans Chinese Reporters From Trip for Bad Behavior

Posted: 08/20/2014 3:45 pm
li xuejiang prime minister harper press conference tussle

Chinese reporter Li Xuejiang gets forcibly removed by the RCMP at a press conference on August 23, 2013.

The Canadian government has banned certain Chinese reporters representing specific news organizations from participating in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s upcoming trip to the country’s north.

Spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, Jason MacDonald, told QMI Agency that “certain news outlets were no longer welcome” to travel with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reports the Winnipeg Sun. A source in the government said reporters from the People’s Daily and Xinhua news agency will not be able to attend the trip this year.

The decision follows an incident that took place last year during Harper’s previous visit to the Canadian north.

li xuejiang prime minister harper press conference tussle

Chinese reporter Li Xuejiang argues with Julie Vaux on August 23, 2013.

On August 23, 2013, a Chinese reporter named Li Xuejiang got into a heated exchange with a member of the Prime Minister’s office, and had to be forcibly restrained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

During a press conference at Raglan Mine, Li was upset that his opportunity to ask the Prime Minister a question was revoked and tried to grab a microphone, after which a physical altercation took place.

As reported by the CBC, press conferences run by Prime Minister Harper are tightly scripted events in which questions from reporters are first verified, and then scheduled. Li was going to ask about investments made by foreign entities into Canada’s natural resources. “I wanted to clarify the federal government’s policy and the regulations toward foreign state-owned company investment,” he said.

Li was unrepentant. “Why should I apologize? They should apologize to me for depriving me of my right to ask a question. The Prime Minister’s Office shouldn’t deprive my right. It’s not democratic.” li xuejiang prime minister harper press conference tussle

However, Li eventually did apologize, saying that he was “sorry for what happened”. All the same, Li continued to complain of unfair treatment. He showed off bruises he claimed he suffered from the altercation, and then wrote on September 8 that Chinese reporters stationed in Canada are discriminated against. Li said that police followed him everywhere, even to the bathroom.

Prime Minister Harper will be making his annual trip to northern Canada from August 20 to 26 and will be accompanied by staff and members of the Press Gallery, an organization of journalists who cover national politics on Parliament Hill.

Despite being identified by the Canadian Press as the Ottawa-based bureau chief for the People’s Daily, Li has also been identified by Xinhuanet as a correspondent working for the Global Times and the People’s Daily Online.

[h/t @spilledtea]

Photos: CBC,


Two Canadians On Trial In China For Stealing Military Secrets

Posted: 08/5/2014 10:31 am

kevin garrattTwo Canadians are currently on trial in China for stealing military secrets and national defense research from the country. Kevin Garratt and Julia Dawn Garratt are currently being tried by a Chinese court overseen by the National Defense Department, reports the China Daily. Both have been called ”Canadian spies”.

Kevin Garratt, 53, and his wife Julia Dawn are originally from Vancouver. They first came to China in 1984 when they taught English in the country’s south before opening a coffee shop called Peter’s Coffee House in Dandong, Liaoning Province in 2008. As Dandong is near the North Korean border, the pair helped arrange tours for people traveling along the Yalu River.

According to Canada’s national newspaper, the Garratts are now missing, and all attempts to contact them at their coffee shop have failed.

The arrests come at a critical time when accusations of spying are flying between the two countries. Just last week, the Canadian Treasury Board said the Canadian National Research Council’s computer infrastructure was hacked into by a “Chinese state-sponsored actor”.


Photo: The Globe and Mail


Chinese Signs in Canada Criticized for “Undermining National Identity”

Posted: 07/15/2014 6:10 pm

chinese sign controversyBus shelter advertisements in Vancouver, Canada written in Chinese have been criticized for undermining ”traditional English and French Canadian identity,” reports the Vancouver Sun.

Brad Saltzberg, a spokeperson for the advocacy group Putting Canada First, wants the signs taken down. Last April, the group was successful in taking down Chinese-only ads belonging to the social service agency SUCCESS. Saltzberg states that if Chinese signs continue to proliferate, ”our whole city will appear to be Asian.”

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith does not see anything wrong with the signs, which usual market real estate and financial services, and are also written in English. Smith said, “I believe in personal freedom. If you pay your money you should be able to advertise your sign in any language you want. I’m not a racist. I don’t see why anybody would be offended by an advertisement in a different language.”

West Vancouver’s sign bylaw does not cover language issues.

Saltzberg said “I’m proud to say I’ve never believed in multiculturalism for even one minute of my life.” Multiculturalism, a policy that promotes and encourages the proliferation of diverse world cultures, was nationalized in Canada during the 1970s.

A 2011 census of Vancouver revealed that there are 163,230 ethnically Chinese residents. In total, Chinese residents constitute 27.7 percent of the total population of Vancouver. The white community is expected to become the minority in Vancouver by 2031.

The largest and oldest component of the Vancouver Chinese community are Cantonese, who write using Traditional Chinese characters. The Chinese written on the contested signs are written in Simplified Chinese, the language used by mainland Chinese, commonly alluded to as the newest immigrants to the Vancouver diaspora.

However, mainland Chinese have come under fire for causing Vancouver’s real estate prices to skyrocket. Their antics have lead to the inspiration of a reality TV show called Ultra Rich Asian Women that only stars Putonghua-speaking Chinese women.

Photo: Vancouver Sun


Parents Protest Opening of New Confucius Institute in Toronto

Posted: 06/16/2014 7:18 pm

confucius institute protestThe fate of a newly-opened Confucius Institute in Toronto, Canada is in doubt after a committee of school trustees advocated breaking ties with the Chinese government, reports the Globe and Mail.

The Toronto District School Board passed a motion on June 11 to investigate allegations of censorship performed by the Chinese government after local parents expressed concern over Mandarin language classes offered by the institution to elementary school students.

Concerned with the influence the Chinese government has over his 13 year-old daughter, Toronto resident and FLG member Michael Lewis started a website called to alert parents to the issues surrounding the Confucius Institute. An online petition has already gained 600 signatures.

As school boards around Canada deal with budget cuts and declining enrollment, Confucius Institutes offer a way to attract international students from China through the state agency known as Hanban.

Allegations against the Confucius Institute include censorship and disseminating propaganda. A job advertisement on the website for the University of Hunan says that “candidates will be assessed to ensure they meet political ideology requirements.” McMaster University has already cut its ties with Confucius Institutes over their hiring policies.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) issued a statement last December that urged universities and colleges to sever relationships with Confucius Institutes in Canada, saying they are “subsidized and supervised by the authoritarian government of China.”

Said James Turk, CAUT executive director: “They restrict the free discussion of topics Chinese authorities deem controversial and should have no place on our campuses.”

The board will vote on the committee’s recommendation on June 18.

The following are images taken from

saynotoci confucius institute protestsaynotoci confucius institute protest

Photo: saynotoci


“Ultra Rich Asian Girls” To Star In New Canadian Reality Show

Posted: 06/5/2014 1:05 pm

ultra rich asian girls

Flaunting your wealth will now be easier than ever for Chinese immigrants. A reality television show tentatively titled HBICtv: Ultra Rich Asian Girls is currently seeking participants that are, presumably, ultra-rich, Asian, and are girls.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, the proposed show features a demo video with Mandarin-speaking women who bicker among themselves as they buy stuff and complain while doing it, reports WSJ Chinese Real-Time.

Producer Kevin Li told the WSJ that Vancouver’s changing demographics were his inspiration after noticing the influx of wealthy immigrants from mainland China lay down roots in the west coast city. Li said, “There aren’t many positive Asian representations in the media. I have a chance to put a different perspective.”ultra rich asian girls

Li hopes to keep the focus of this show on Chinese women in order to attract a market in both Canada and China, two locales that presumably don’t have enough flaunting of wealth nor positive depictions of Asians.

It may be strange to see an ultra-rich reality show participant drinking pink champagne straight from the grip of the bottle in the demo, but that must be a force of habit, we presume.

Photos: screenshots via Youtube


Bookmark This: Real-Time Air Quality Index Map for Guangdong

Posted: 05/8/2014 9:30 am

air quality index map visual representation guangdong Mask, or no mask? Planning your day has gotten so much easier.

The Real-Time Air Quality Index Visual Map is a website that allows users to read AQI readings from various environmental substations around their area in map form. Get a better idea of the local air pollution situation by seeing the differences in air quality by geographical location.

The top map is a representation of the PRD via clicking on “Guangdong“, but here’s Guangzhou:air quality index map visual representation guangdong

Dongguan:air quality index map visual representation guangdong

And Shenzhen:air quality index map visual representation guangdong

There’s also listings for other Guangdong and PRD cities like Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Foshan, Huizhou, Shunde, Jiangmen, Maoming, and Hong Kong, some of which are the cleanest cities in China.

As this map is world-wide, you can also access other areas. At a glance, you can see the very reason why residents of Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu are now flocking to the beautiful, sunny south.

Warning: once you start exploring this map, it’s hard to stop. After living in a polluted place like China, you’ll start fancying yourself living in some remote areas. After looking at this map, I’m now sorry I ever made fun of Thunder Bay, Ontario, though I still don’t mind the 15 hours it took to leave there.

Photos: Screenshots from Real-Time Air Quality Index Visual Map


Canadian Expats Given Right to Vote in Canadian Federal Elections

Posted: 05/6/2014 6:08 pm


After having lost the right to vote when living abroad for over five years, expat Canadians are now able to vote in federal elections, reports the Toronto Star.

In striking down the law, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny ruled the section of the Canada Election Act that barred long-time expatriates from voting as “unconstitutional”. Penny wrote in his decision that “This is not the lawmakers’ decision to make — the Charter makes this decision for us,” and noted that citizenship is the fundamental requirement for voting, not residency.

Finally—a reason to care about Canada that isn’t related to hockey. But with the next federal election tentatively slated for October 19, 2015, how familiar are you with the current political climate of Canada?

Currently, the Conservatives enjoy a majority government with Stephen Harper as PM after several failed minority governments, but they and the New Democratic Party have slipped in the polls as the Liberals have gained popularity.

So as a brief re-introduction to Canadian politics, here is the very least you should know about the leaders of the top federal parties in Canada as told from another expat who knows nothing about Canadian politics:

stephen harper

Stephen Harper,
leader of the Federal Conservative Party, current Prime Minister of Canada:
His French has likely improved. it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

thomas mulcair

Thomas Mulcair,
leader of the federal New Democratic Party:
He’s not Jack Layton.

justin trudeau

Justin Trudeau (on the right),
leader of the federal Liberal Party:
Son of Pierre, he’s likely the only chance Canada has at having a Prime Minister who can date a movie star. An American movie star.

The Bloc Quebecois is currently without leader, and the Green Party is, well, the Green Party.

Now that you’re up to date, political conservatives can continue to be upset at voters like us from overseas. Olivia Chow had previously fanned controversy after appealing to voters in Hong Kong eligible to vote in the Toronto municipal election to help her defeat the “shame” that is Rob Ford.

Be sure to vote.

Photo: adrianbribassi, Breaking News,  HuffPo, Winnepig Free Press


Happy Thanksgiving American pengyou, but beware of crotchety Canadians

Posted: 11/22/2012 9:17 am


Today being American Thanksgiving (2012 edition), I figured I’d drag out an old rant that I wrote a few years ago during my first time here in China during the US holiday. I want to preface this post by saying that in no way do I hold any malice toward Americans (or Quebecois). I simply wrote this for the limited comedy value it provides.

I’ll try to keep this entry short, as I’ve been accused – and rightfully so – of drooling on like Cujo after eating a bar of soap. So today, being November 22nd, it’s American Thanksgiving. I stress the word AMERICAN. All of the Chinese staff, and even some of the laowai here at work, have been coming up to me all day long, and wishing me ‘happy Thanksgiving.’ That’s fine. I appreciate the fact that they’ve taken the time to care. But, unfortunately, being over here, no one really knows that the United States and Canada have separate Thanksgiving holidays. So, just to help out my good friends here in China, I’m going to draw up a short list of the differences between Canadians and Americans when it comes to our holidays…just so there’s no further confusion.

  • We, as Canadians, don’t consider deep-frying a turkey a holiday tradition. Seriously, if you were to deep-fry a tire, I’m sure there would be a few Americans considering digging in!
  • Our Thanksgiving holiday is not based on giving pox-filled blankets to unwitting natives. We just got ours drunk.
  • Our national day holiday is July 1st, not July 4th. We didn’t bother fighting the British for our independence. We just pissed and moaned about it until the Queen got sick of listening to us!
  • Christmas in Canada is shared on the same day as it is throughout the entire world. But, of course, the actual North Pole being in Canada gives us dibs on the premium gifts that fat bastard and his reindeer have to offer!
  • We don’t have holidays to honor our dead leaders. In Canada, our Prime Ministers just settle into obscurity after misappropriating federal tax dollars.
  • We don’t have an Arbor Day. Seriously, what the hell is that anyway?
  • Martin Luther King is someone to be honored. Who the hell do we have? Rene Levesque. I don’t effin’ think so!
  • Speaking of Quebec, they have their own separate holidays. But no one outside of Quebec really gives a crap about what Quebec does at this point anyway!
  • Easter is celebrated in Canada. But we try to limit our intake of chocolate bunnies to less than two pounds over the holiday duration, unlike our hefty neighbors to the south.
  • And yes, we do celebrate New Years. And to be quite honest, Peter Mansbridge doing the countdown on the CBC is about as exciting as watching paint dry at an insurance seminar. Dick Clark – who I’m convinced was Disney animatronics by the end – is no screamin’ hell either. But I still have to tip my hat to the Yanks on this one!
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