David Weale’s recent Guardian article entitled “Immigration: The Elephant in the Room” generated quite a buzz on social media. When I read his follow-up post stating: “China is proclaiming loudly, and proudly, that they will be the architects of the new global economy, which planning is well underway, and we are part of that plan. And the main envoy of that plan on PEI is Xuan (Frank) Zhou, friend of Chinese billionaires, and of Premier MacLauchlan, and former Premier Robert Ghiz,” I decided to do some digging.
Who exactly is Frank Zhou? As Director of the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEIANC) from 2000-2010, I got to know Frank Zhou and his wife, Sherry Huang, after she purchased Study Abroad Canada. They’re both lovely people. They’re also wealthy and ambitious entrepreneurs, and key players in a partnership project with the provincial government which is rapidly transforming our Island. It’s impossible to explain this in detail here, so my focus in this article is on some possible conflict-of-interest connections between Frank Zhou and Premier MacLauchlan.
Frank and Sherry operate Sunrise Group; Study Abroad Canada; Anne in China Inc. (AIC); and COWS Creamery (China). Sunrise Group includes: S.M. Capital Management; Sunrise Consulting; Sunrise Logistics; Sunrise Innovation; and Sunrise Immigration and Investment, which is one of seven companies authorized by the provincial government to identify and process immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Frank is also a board member of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC), and was appointed to the UPEI Board of Governors by Robert Ghiz.
Robert Ghiz wrote the “Afterward” to the Chinese edition of Anne, then traveled to China with Frank to promote it. Both Wade and Duncan were Anne in China Inc. partners at the time. Wade’s biography found on the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation website notes that Wade is the Premier of PEI (so it appears to be up-to-date) and that he is a “partner and director of Anne China Inc.” Duncan was a director of the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority, and President of Anne in china Inc.
Frank Zhou is also sole owner of the Canada-China Friendship and Goodwill Association, incorporated in January, 2015. The Premier’s 2015 disclosure document states that: “The Premier’s spouse is a director of Canada-China Friendship and Goodwill Association,” but that same information isn’t included in his 2016 disclosure statement, although Duncan was pointed out in the gallery of the Senate in Ottawa and introduced as the Chair of the Board of the Canada-China Friendship and Goodwill Association by Senator Mike Duffy just a few weeks ago on March 1, 2017.
Zhou’s Sunrise Group sponsored Duncan’s “Canada 300” project, and is also a sponsor of the Watermark Theatre, where Wade holds the Mortgage.
Frank and Sherry had two companies on the recent China delegation (COWs Creamery (China); and Study Abroad Canada), and their Sunrise Group of companies is partnered with Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, which was also represented on the trip.
After the Federal government shut down PEI’s PNP program in 2008, which allowed immigrants to essentially buy their way into Canada without having to actually own businesses in PEI, the new PNP program required immigrants to create or purchase Island companies. To continue collecting administration fees ($10,000 per application) as well as failed deposits ($18 million in 2016) the province is now actively promoting the sale of PEI companies with a link to a database of Island businesses for sale entitled Buy or Sell a PEI Business accompanied with guidelines entitled Selling your Business to a Newcomer, found on the Office of Immigration’s website next to the links to PNP application forms.
Few Islanders are asking questions about the rapid transfer of Island-owned businesses to foreign buyers for fear of being labelled xenophobic. But a growing number are becoming concerned. We urgently need to have an open and candid discussion about what an appropriate immigration strategy for PEI should look like. We put measures in place restricting foreign acquisition of land back in the 1970s when we became aware that Americans were rapidly buying large tracts of land in PEI, especially shore frontage, so why are we not equally concerned about the rapid sale of PEI’s businesses and economic infrastructure? Our government needs to address this run-away problem before the “For Sale” sign on PEI changes to “Sold.” The steady provincial government revenue stream coming from investor-class immigrants, and the close connections between Wade, Duncan and Frank Zhou, may explain why the Premier seems unconcerned.