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Organizer appeals to Canada to review diplomat's role in quashing sponsorships
By Matthew Little
Epoch Times Staff
|Apr 24, 2008|
The organizers of a cultural show in Calgary are calling on the Canadian government to review the status of a Chinese diplomat who allegedly threatened some of the show's sponsors into canceling their negotiations with the performing arts group.
Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta had planned to sponsor the Divine Performing Arts Chinese Spectacular, a Chinese cultural show set to perform at Calgary's Jubilee Auditorium from April 30–May 2.
The two tourism agencies reneged on the sponsorship plans after being contacted by Wu Xinjian, the consul general representing the People's Republic of China in Calgary, The Epoch Times has learned.
Based in New York, the Divine Performing Arts has staged the Chinese Spectacular in some 65 cities throughout Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania. The dance company is composed of expatriate Chinese performers and includes a live orchestra and dramatizations of Chinese legends and China's various dynasties and ethnic groups.
The dance company says it seeks to revive China's ancient cultural traditions, including its moral and spiritual legacies. Some performances also touch on themes of human rights in modern-day China, specifically the persecution of Falun Gong.
In an e-mail correspondence from Travel Alberta to the show's Calgary organizers, it was stated that the agency must cancel plans to support for the Divine Performing Arts show after being contacted by the Chinese consul general in Calgary.
Organizers say they believe the consulate may have threatened Travel Alberta's business negotiations with China.
A similar email from Tourism Calgary says it would withdraw its support of an April 30 reception for Divine Performing Arts performers and cancel a ceremony where the performers were to be made honorary citizens of Calgary and receive white cowboy hats.
Joe Wang, president of New Tang Dynasty Canada, which hosts the Spectacular, said the cancellations are part of a larger pattern.
"This is typical of the Chinese regime's interference with the Spectacular since it began in 2004. In almost every city and country where the show has toured, Chinese consulate and embassy officials have sought to have it cancelled or to otherwise cause trouble."
Wang said such interference was a violation of Canada's sovereignty and goes beyond the mandate of diplomats in a foreign country.
"This is a gross violation of Canada's sovereignty and free artistic expression. They may well have broken the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs and overstepped their diplomatic duties."
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Travel Alberta managing director Derek Coke-Kerr described the situation is an unfortunate mistake.
He said a junior official with the agency began talks with DPA about a sponsorship deal that would have exchanged ads on New Tang Dynasty Television, which broadcasts globally via satellite. The broadcasts are accessible in China by those who purchase satellite dished on the black market. However, the tourism agency doesn't have permission from Beijing to advertise tourism products in China, said Coke-Kerr.
As part of the cancelled deal, performers were to receive a trip to Banff with the support of Travel Alberta.
Despite the cancelled sponsorships, the Chinese Spectacular will go on. The show is scheduled for Calgary from April 30 to May 2, and Edmonton from May 5 to 7 at each city's Jubilee Auditorium. The show will play in Vancouver this weekend.