UBC to play part in Year of the Asia Pacific

by Gavin Wilson
Staff writer

Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced while in Vancouver last week that 1997
will be Canada’s Year of the Asia Pacific.

The announcement was made at Canada Place to a room filled with UBC students,
faculty and administators, as well as business leaders, MPs and cabinet
ministers. UBC President David Strangway introduced the prime minister.

The year will culminate in November 1997 when Vancouver plays host to the Asia
Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting, APEC ’97.

Chretien was on his way to APEC ’96 in Manila, where he will meet with
representatives of 18 other Pacific Rim economies to plan trade and economic
development in the region.

“The future of Canada will depend a great deal on our presence in the Pacific,
and the gateway to the Pacific is B.C. We are very happy with the dynamism of
the business community and the university community who are helping to prepare
the province and the rest of Canada to be the leaders of the Pacific,” Chretien

This January, one of the first formal events of Canada’s Year of the Asia
Pacific will take place at UBC as the university co-hosts the Asia Pacific
Parliamentary Forum.

The forum brings together distinguished legislators from more than 20 Pacific
Rim nations to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest. It will be the
first time the forum is held in Canada.

Canada was a founding member of the forum, which was established in Tokyo in

Among its goals are: understanding policy concerns, interests and experiences;
examining political, social and cultural developments; encouraging and
promoting regional co-operation; and encouraging regional cohesion,
understanding and co-operation.

Also in January, Strangway has been asked to join the prime minister and Team
Canada on a trade mission to Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines.
Strangway has been a member of the team on previous missions to Asia.

Strangway said these activities are very much in keeping with the university’s
long-standing interest in the Asia Pacific. UBC has a vital role in developing
relationships and increasing knowledge about the region.

“Knowledge is a great builder of bridges across regions. The more we understand
about other areas, the more we can work together — and that benefits each of
us,” Strangway said.

“This is why links with Asia Pacific are important not only to UBC and British
Columbia, but to all of Canada. New knowledge means new opportunities–and new
opportunities mean employment for young people and prosperity throughout our

About 80 UBC students, representing different constituencies across campus and
all sharing an interest in the Pacific Rim, were on hand for the prime
minister’s announcement.

Gisèle Yasmeen, speaking on the students’ behalf, thanked the prime
minister for sharing his vision of Canada’s role in the Pacific Century.

Yasmeen, who recently completed work on a PhD in the Geography Dept., studied
urbanization, food systems and gender in Southeast Asia. She was also an intern
at the Asia Pacific Foundation’s APEC Study Centre.

“Those of us who work in the Asia Pacific region are thrilled with this
announcement,” she said.