Trustee trip to China to go ahead

No plans to cancel despite diplomatic dispute but trustees will be monitoring the situation

There are no plans to cancel a trip to China by School District 43 trustees despite a high-profile diplomatic dispute between China and Canada.

Plans are still being finalized for a trip trustees will take in March, a Coquitlam school trustee and board chair has confirmed. However, Barb Hobson said the district is monitoring the situation and will make a final decision closer to the date of departure.

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“Right now there’s no government directives or any concern from the federal government, obviously there are parliamentarians who are there right now, we just have to wait and see what transpires prior to the date,” Hobson told the Tri-City News this week.

Each year trustees visit China to visit education bureaus, officials and classrooms with the approximately $60,000 trip paid for by the Confucius institute, affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The goal of the trip is to bolster the International Education Program that generates approximately $37 million to SD43 coffers.

But this year’s trip is taking place as Canada seeks the release of two detained Canadians. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in what some say is retaliation for Canada’s December compliance with a U.S. extradition request for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

However, despite the situation, Canada has not updated its travel advisory to China.

Hobson said the school board would continue to monitor the situation.

“If they issue a travel warning of course were going to respect that,” Hobson said.

She said the trip is important because it benefits SD43 students.

“Our international program is instrumental to our belief system in the school district that we want to raise students who have an international perspective about their future and by bringing students form other areas of the world we are exposing them to other cultures and providing an opportunity for life-long friendships to develop with students from around the world, and of course, it contributes to our bottom line,” Hobson said.

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