Saturday, June 24, 2006

Chinese Head Tax

The Canadian Prime Minister has apologised to the few living Chinese immigrants to Canada still living who personally were subject to a head tax. More than 15,000 Chinese immigrants worked to build the Canadian Pacific Railway between 1881 and 1885, and more than 1,000 died during the construction. "But from the moment the railway was completed, Canada turned its back on these men," he said. In 1885, a $50 head tax was imposed on Chinese-Canadian immigrants to deter them from coming to Canada, a tax that eventually rose to the then-enormous sum of $500. In 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act effectively barred immigrants from China from coming to Canada, until it was repealed in 1947.

"We acknowledge the high cost of the head tax meant that many family members were left behind in China, never to be reunited, or that families lived apart and in some cases in extreme poverty for years. We also recognize that our failure to truly acknowledge these historical injustices has prevented many in the community from seeing themselves as fully Canadian," Mr. Harper said.
Source: Globe and Mail, 23rd June, 2006.

Guayabitos, Nayarit, Mexico. Xmas Morning, 2004  Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 23, 2006

Deutschland - World Cup

OK I have not yet weighed in on this country fair taking place in Germany. Trying to fit a work schedule to-gether with so many tussels on-going takes German-like precision planning. So can anyone name all 12 host cities? I get to 10 but then am baffled. I think the Kaiser has been to a game in each already he is so omnipresent. Speaking of which, there are some good Adidas ads running in which two young latinos play a game of pick-up in the yard in front of their tenement dwelling. They pick teams turn about from a pool of superstars, Robben, Cisse, Beckham etc. Even the aforementioned Franz Beckenbauer. They must have made the ads thirty years ago in anticipation, he looks so curly headed and fit, Ya. Platini in his prime also shows up, mais oui. One of the stars screws up and the ten year old captain gesticulates "Tu, al banqillo!" "You, to the bench!" So I went horribly wrong being impressed with the Czechs and thinking they could win it all. They did after all romp over the USA, which I thought was going to be strong. The Italy USA game was a spectacle, highly entertaining and the Italians were well worth their roasting the day after in La Prenza (is that a real Italian entity?). Argentina have depth and their usual slight of foot. England, despite having The Foot on display, look fragile. Maybe a great recipe to win the way Italy has progressed oh so many times. Socceroos from Australia (Croatia B team with no less than 7 Croatian descendants in their squad) look to be gunning for it. Maybe in fact the Cobbers are the A team after ousting the real B team from Zagreb yesterday. France are pedantic, Spain promising, Ecuador no push over. See you in round two. Oh yes and Scotland are current Cup holders. Where is Kirin anyway? Or is it a company, a philanthropist?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Lai Chang Xing

Lai Chang Xing has been in Canada several years now. He is supposedly China's number one criminal, and is urgently sought by Beijing under extradition procedures. He was in business and has been accused of importation corruption to the tune of $10 billion. Many government officials were recipients of "largesse." So his story is hitting the headlines in Canada as our top court rules on whether or not to deport him, given he may face torture or execution or surreptitious death in the sealed off prison gulag in China. Apparently the evidence against him would not stand up in Canadian courts. Is he a political pawn? How much of his sullied reputation was manufactured and just political propaganda? Wish I knew.
Source; Yahoo website.


As the June 4th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, the Chinese community in Toronto is openly split as to whether or not to commemorate the event. Many want to let bygones be bygones and just get on with things. Business perogatives to them are paramount. Remember the Red Cross estimates 2000 died that day, not counting the thousands injured. It is hard to imagine the chaos then while on a present day visit to the site in thoroughly modern Beijing. But China has a split personality does it not? Kowtowing to the current leadership at any given moment is part and parcel of being Chinese. Who wouldn't given the circumstances of repression? A common assessment is that the students that day were advocating democratic reform. In fact it is said demands for an end to corruption were the number one issue. Millions of people were in the streets, not just those at the square. And Beijing was not the only place of protest. How much do we hear of events elsewhere in the country? If we know little think how much most Chinese know. Officially there is no history of the event although you can bet your boots the government has not forgotten. Then protest leaders are still put under house arrest at this time of year to prevent recurrences. Not everyone kowtows.
Source; The Current, CBC Radio, Friday June 2nd.