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Chinese Culture Group Celebrates Shanghai Expo in Vancouver

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Shanghai's upcoming hosting of the World Expo is getting some enthusiastic exposure in the Vancouver market by courtesy of a locally-based group that promotes Chinese culture.

With the Canadian city set to host the Winter Olympic Games starting on Friday and the Paralympics next month, the Association of the Chinese Cultural Promotion Canada is taking advantage of the opportunity to promote the Expo with three separate road shows in Vancouver and the neighboring suburb cities of Burnaby and Richmond through March.

Speaking at the "All for the Spring Chinese New Year Folk Gala Night" on Sunday evening, Association President Ricky Li told Xinhua this year was of special significance as in addition to Vancouver's hosting of the Games, it was also the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Canada.

"Vancouver hosted the World Expo in 1986 and got a lot of benefit from it. The same thing is happening for Shanghai. As Chinese-Canadians, we wanted to do something special for the expo, " said the Jilin (a northeast China province) native who immigrated to Canada 12 years ago.

"We want more people to know about Chinese culture and that's what these expo shows will do for both a Chinese and western audience. We did the same thing for Beijing in 2008 and it was a big success. People have seen Beijing in the Olympics and now the World Expo is coming to Shanghai. They want to come. It is very easy for us to promote," Li added.

With performers singing such Chinese standards as "Mother River" and "Dragon Boat Song" at the Folk Gala Night, Li said his association, along with three other locally-based Chinese groups, would be hosting evenings of song and dance on February 19 and 20 to give Winter Games visitors a taste of Chinese culture Vancouver- style.

Last year, in celebration of New China's 60th founding anniversary, Li promoted a three-day Chinese Cultural Festival with great success on the city's former expo site.

"Again, this is really a special year with all of the people coming for the Olympics. CCTV (China Central Television) and other Chinese media are here; it gives them a better understanding of how we live here," he said. "This is a really good city for Chinese to live, the weather's good and it is the closest Canadian city in proximity to China."

Thomas Manson, a local lawyer whose wife hails from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, was among the guests to the Folk Gala Night held at a waterfront home in the Vancouver suburb of Tsawwassen. The lifelong Vancouverite said that in recent years there had been an "explosion of interest in China" in the city.

With a population of 2.2 million, the Greater Vancouver area is home to more than 300,000 Chinese-Canadians, the majority being Cantonese speakers. In recent years, however, the latest Chinese immigrants have been Mandarin speakers from Taiwan or the Chinese mainland.

"A very important (part) of my practice is acting for Chinese clients who probably don't speak English or have minimal English. My wife and I work together serving those clients here in British Columbia," Manson said.

"A lot of our neighbors are Chinese and about 50 percent of my children's school is Chinese. It's given me an opportunity to practice my Mandarin across the fence," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2010)

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