MP declares China trip a success

Richmond MP Alice Wong is back from China, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched Canada’s summer campaign for tourism.  -
Richmond MP Alice Wong is back from China, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched Canada’s summer campaign for tourism.
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Richmond MP Alice Wong is confident locals will benefit from her trip last week to China, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched Canada’s summer campaign for tourism.

Thanks to her fluency in English and Mandarin, Wong was asked to emcee the visit, which included trips to Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

Nine bilateral agreements covering a wide range of areas—from tourism to agriculture, education, science and technology—were signed during the trip, which minus the travel time, included five solid days of forging and solidifying relationships, Wong said.

Nearly two dozen new Canada-China partnership agreements, in which companies are to begin working together, have a trading value of about $3 billion. One involves a big Chinese company that wants to ramp up the purchase of canola, reaching as much as $240 million per year by 2015.

The goal of the trip was to strengthen trade between China and Canada, Wong told The Richmond Review Thursday morning from Ottawa, where she was still recovering from jet lag.

With China in only its dawning days of allowing its citizens to travel freely on tourist trips internationally, and Vancouver now open to Chinese air carriers, creating strong connections was a focus during the trip, Wong said.

And with Richmond serving as a gateway to Asia, she’s hoping Tourism Richmond will reap some of the rewards from last week’s hard work.

International education was also high on the agenda, Wong said, with Chinese students encouraged to study in Richmond.

There are 49 high schools in China using the Canadian high school curriculum, which Wong said makes it easier for students to bridge into our educational system.

Wong, the minister of state for seniors, also met her Chinese counterpart, who is in charge of seniors in China.

They discussed a wide range of challenges, Wong said, and she learned about some of China’s new initiatives to help seniors.

One of the challenges is the age-friendliness of residential buildings, Wong said, noting that some multi-storey residential buildings have no elevators, presenting a mobility challenge to seniors.

On the topic of the proposed change to old age pension,and raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, Wong said she’s already sent out a questionnaire asking for feedback from her constituents.

“We are committed to protecting their retirement income,” Wong said, adding that the changes are necessary to protect seniors and the generations to come.

Currently, one in seven residents of Canada is a senior, a number that is projected to reach one in four over the course of the next 25 years, she said.

Wong said no official statements have been made yet, but she assured seniors that whoever is receiving benefits now won’t be affected. Those who are about to retire won’t be impacted either.

Wong said there aren’t enough young people in Canada to keep our current system going, meaning changes need to be made.

If the changes are made, Canada would be falling in line with other countries who have made similar changes, including the United Kingdom, Germany, the U.S., and Portugal, who have either implemented or announced they will be implementing the changes.

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