Daughter of winery owners jailed in China seeking Trudeau's help
Megan Devlin, CTV Vancouver
Published Thursday, May 25, 2017 2:52PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 25, 2017 2:56PM PDT
The daughter of a British Columbia couple jailed in China last year while on a business trip is calling on the Canadian government to take action and bring her parents home as they face trial Friday.
Amy Chang’s parents, John Chang and Allison Lu, have been detained in China for the last 14 months. They own Lulu Island Winery in Richmond, B.C. They were travelling to China meeting with vendors when they were detained while checking out of their hotel in Shanghai.
Chinese officials allege they underreported the value of their wine. The winery exports 80 per cent of its wine, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of all Canadian wine exported to China, according to a profile of Chang in Canadian Immigrant magazine. The couple produces 50 per cent of British Columbia’s ice wine, of which 70 per cent is exported to China, Japan and Taiwan.
“I’m urging that Prime Minister Trudeau puts his hands into this,” Amy Chang told CTV Vancouver Wednesday in an interview this week.
“He should not be letting innocent Canadian citizens be detained overseas.”
She was also in China at the time, but was able to flee quickly to Taiwan. Her parents are Taiwanese nationals who were travelling on Canadian passports.
Chang maintains that her family’s winery did not undervalue their wine, and says she has receipts from trade officials in Shanghai to prove it. She’s frustrated that her parents are being detained criminally for what she says is a trade dispute.
"They've done nothing wrong, and [Trudeau] needs to have his attention on this,” she said. “Especially when you're talking about a free trade agreement [with China] in the future.”
She added: “Is Canada saying it’s okay to detain someone for a year?”
Her father, 62, suffers from health problems and has been in jail since his arrest.
“My father has two tumours which need to be periodically checked,” Chang said. “[He] still isn’t getting the medical attention or treatment that he should be getting... because he’s still in the detention facility.
Chang’s mother, 61, was released from jail in January but is prohibited from leaving China. She has no family there except for a sister who periodically visits from Taiwan. She FaceTimes with her daughter often.
“It’s been a very difficult year,” Chang said.
The couple immigrated to Canada in 1998 and began making wine at Lulu Island in 2007. Chang’s father has accompanied Canadian government officials on trade-building trips to China before. He was named one of RBC’s top 25 Canadian immigrants in 2015.
Chang says she’s been working with her local MP to get the government to do something. So far, no ministers have agreed to meet with her.
Her parents face trial in China starting on Friday. Meanwhile, she’s travelling to Ottawa next week with the hopes of arranging a face-to-face meeting with Trudeau.
“The role of the Canadian government is to protect your citizens at home and abroad,” Chang said. “And right now I don’t see that happening.”