Cart before horse in Chinese-Canadian tourism

Letter to the Welland Tribune Editor:

Upon reading Corey Larocque’s recent piece on Chinese criminal Lai Changxing being the biggest obstacle in opening the flood gates to Chinese tour groups onto Niagara, I couldn’t help but laugh. Not at Larocque, he’s swell, but at the idea that China’s Approved Destination Status (ADS) is the obstacle.

I’m a Wellander who lives in China and was recently married to a Chinese woman. We are coming home to Welland for the holidays thanks to the benevolence of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIS).

That is to say, getting my wife a visa was roughly as simple and noninvasive as deep colon surgery.

In addition to the long and detailed application form, we had to provide six months of banking records and pay stubs for my wife, myself, and each family member we’ll be staying with while in Canada. Also, we were required to submit letters from hers, my, and each of my family members’ employers stating our respective lengths of employment.

visaAnd unlike when I obtained my visa to China via mail from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Chinese citizens are required to have an interview in person at one of three Canadian embassy/consulate locations across this massive country – an expensive trip for anyone that does not live in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou.

All of this on the often futile hopes that they’ll get that pretty little lamination in their passport that says they can go.

Of course all of this is because CIS knows that if they are not strict the country will be filled with Chinese nationals overstaying their visas. Ontario’s current minimum wage of $8/hr is more than most Chinese make a day, and on the gritty streets of China, that’s enough to paint Canada’s roads in all sorts of golden hues. ADS or no ADS, this is not going to change. Canada, quite simply, doesn’t trust Chinese citizens enough to freely open their border to the rapidly-rising superpower.

So, though the Canadian tourism industry may be waking with cold sweats thinking ADS is the answer to the lack of Americans crossing the border, until Canada figures out a more accessible visa structure, it’s all but a fever dream.

Oh… and:

Liberal MP John Maloney, who represents Welland, said Canada’s relationship with China has “soured” since Harper’s Conservatives took office in 2006.

“Mr. Harper has been cool to China,” Maloney said, pointing to critical comments cabinet ministers have made about China’s human rights record, Harper’s recent visit with the Dalai Lama on Parliament Hill, and a reluctance among Conservative cabinet ministers to visit China.

“These are considered slights by Oriental culture,” Maloney said.

“Liberal” Maloney blaming Harper’s Conservatives for being critical of China’s lack of improvement in human rights (after promises given both for the WTO and Olympic bodies) as well as insinuating that it is somehow wrong that Harper met with the Dalai Lama is just ridiculous. Maloney baloney – if you will.

Now, not to speak for a nation of people, but any man that refers to Chinese as “Orientals” might want to keep his mouth shut lest he reveal the ignorance inside. I can’t believe I lost to this guy in 2004 – a complete lack of campaign or not.

9 Responses

  1. the reason why the lai chang xing case is stopping canada from getting the ADS is china’s economic punishment to canada for not shipping him back to face charges..the money made from these overseas junkets is huge. just ask rolex and fine perfume dealers in europe.

    ADS status would allow mainland tour groups to visit canada but it doesn’t mean that single visitors (such as your wife) would have an easier time picking up visas. it’d probably be just as stringent.

    i’ve met quite a few chinese ‘canadians’ who went to canada on study visas and upon landing just went straight to work to make money. they don’t pay taxes and some have even gone onto join the triads. of course, not all of them do but they’re not doing themselves any favours by not contributing to their new home either. that’s why Chinese young people especially are placed under very stringent application procedures. sorry man.

  2. Hey Dez, bit weird replying to this post – having talked to you about it – but well, in the interests of clarity…

    I’m not at all saying that the Canadian gov’t need change the application process, in fact, what I’m saying is it’s not going to change.

    The original Tribune article makes ADS seem to be the perfect solution to the lost American dollars.

    However, the visa process for China (or any of the 150+ other countries that require a visa) isn’t going to change.

    So, Niagara tourism, hungry to re-fill the American ass-print on the slot stools, can criticize the government and lobby them to compromise their representation of Canadian ethics (ya ya..) in order to stop China’s childish ADS punishment, but will it really make that big of a difference?

    We’re talking the ability of China’s affluent to come to Canada and spend their money – is it really so hard for them to do that now?

    Where inroads need to be made is for the middle-class traveller that isn’t stupidly loaded, but might have their own apartment, maybe even a QQ car.

    These are tourism’s bread and butter. And these folks are still going to have a helluva time convincing the government of Canada that they’re not going to make a run for Spadina.

  3. “six months of banking records and pay stubs for my wife, myself, and each family member we’ll be staying with while in Canada”

    that really is invasive. on both sides of the water. i’m stunned!

  4. Yeah, and a potential visitor has to get a letter from his employer stating that employer “doesn’t mind” visitor’s trip to Canada. How insulting is this… And after that Canada speaks about “human rights”.

  5. Same thing here with my wife trying to get to the states (although we didn’t need to provide THAT much info, it seems Canada might be even sticter). Well written post, it’s a problem that will solve itself once the average salary of a Chinese citizen matches that of a Canadian. It’s all about incentives. Give it 80 years, and your wife should be able to fly over pretty easily. ;P

  6. I just want you to know I wasn’t amused by the “Maloney baloney” line. Also, you guys might get lucky and become the 加拿大自治区。
    Chris Maloney

  7. Pingback: Almost Famous | A China Blog on Suzhou Expat Life | The Humanaught

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