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Trustees' trip to China postponed

"We will go when it’s the right time," says Coquitlam trustee and board chair
A photo from a previous School District 43 trustee trip to China. The current board of education is monitoring Canadian government travel advisories to determine whether it's safe to go to China for a trip in March to promote international education.

A planned trip to China for School District 43 trustees remains on hold while officials wait for a change in the security risk for travelers.

Board chair and Coquitlam trustee Barb Hobson confirmed that planning for the trip that was to have taken place this month has been postponed and the situation continues to be monitored.

“We continue to monitor and we will go when it’s the right time. I’m not predicting when that will be,” Hobson said.

She said nothing had to be cancelled because no meetings or other details had been finalized.

“We hadn’t firmed up anything,” Hobson said.

The trip to China, paid for by the Chinese government through its education arm Hanban, is an annual event to bolster relations between education officials of the two countries and promote SD43’s international education program.

Currently, SD43 has the largest and most profitable program in B.C., and Chinese students make up a large proportion of the approximately 2,000 students who attend school here from foreign countries.

However, it could be a while before there is a thaw in the the relations between the Chinese and Canadian governments.

This week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied Chinese claims that two detained Canadians had collaborated on stealing state secrets and a warning to Canadians traveling to China has not been relaxed since it was issued in mid-January.

Canadian visitors to China continue to be urged to “exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

It is believed that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were detained in retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies, at the request of the U.S., which wants to extradite her for fraud.

On March 1, the Canadian department of justice issued a release stating that it would formally commence extradition proceedings in Wanzhou’s case.

On Wednesday, March 6, lawyers are expected to appear in B.C. Supreme Court to schedule a date for the extradition hearing.

In the meantime, Wanzhou has launched a civil suit, claiming that she was not properly notified of the reason for her arrest when she was detained at the Vancouver International Airport.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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