I am very happy to say a few words about the 20th birthday of the ACSC. 


As you can see from the photograph, I am no longer the young man I was just 15 years ago when I first came to work at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing!


Reflecting back to those early days, I realize how greatly different the Association is today than when it started out.  Many of the early members of the Association have “gone to see Marx” as we used to say in those days.  But their contribution lives on in their successors present here in Chongqing today.


Twenty years ago, China was still in the early phases of its opening and reform program.  It was not so easy to be a Canadianist.  Those were the days of the “Spiritual Pollution Campaign” and its successor in 1987, the “Bourgeois Liberalization Campaign.”  A lot of people in China were deeply concerned that Western concepts would negatively impact China’s social, political, and cultural life.  Some of them were suspicious of Canadian Studies.


But the 20 years of history of the ACSC has proven that both China and Canada have benefited from the study of Canada in China.  Over the years there have been some projects undertaken by Canadianists in China that have directly involved transfer of technology between Canada and China, such as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – Royal Society of Canada Democracy Project that Chen Qineng and Jiang Peng were associated with for several years.  This project was about exploring the political and social institutions that best serve a modern market economy.  Much of the early period Canadian Studies work was simply descriptive.  There was great thirst in China to know more about the world outside.  An opportunity to travel to a foreign country was enormously exciting in those days.


Twenty years on, the field of Canadian studies in China has matured considerably.  And the work is no longer directed simply to a Chinese audience.  For example Professor Liu Guangtai’s study of Chester Ronning is without question the best of the books on Ronning that have been published to date.  His contribution is not just to Canadian studies in China but to Canadian studies everywhere.  The same can be said for the studies of Canadian missionaries out of Shandong University.  Li Wei has done a wonderful piece of work in translating Alvyn Austin’s Saving China.  As a mirror of this, his colleague, Dong Linfu’s, study of James Menzies will be coming out in the spring in English published by the University of Toronto Press. 


Studying Canadian things no longer seems strange or exotic.  The focus is not longer so much on the “foreign-ness” of Canada, but of Canadian things as expressions of our common humanity. 


Let me thank you for giving me this opportunity to “speak” at this meeting even though I am not able to come to attend myself.


I wish the ACSC continued success


Charles Burton

October 26, 2004