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Billionaire owner of two Island malls bares soul on China, scandals and ‘horrific’ upbringing

Analysis: An attempt to discover what “the wealthiest woman in Vancouver,” Weihong Liu, plans to do with the Tsawwassen shopping centre reveals much more.
Weihong Liu sits in the replica chair of that of “the Queen of England,” which she has in her new Vancouver mansion. "It's exciting," she says, to feel the wealth and power it symbolizes. SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE VIDEO BY 56 BELOW TV

Dubbed “the wealthiest woman in Vancouver,” Weihong Liu has for years not talked to the mainstream media about what she has in store for her three new B.C. shopping malls, including Mayfair Centre in Victoria and Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo.

However, Liu’s business ideas, plus a great deal more political intrigue, are revealed in a feisty and tear-filled Chinese-language interview she gave to a YouTube channel, in a program that now includes English subtitles and a transcript.

In addition to spelling out her vision to have traditional First Nations performances at Tsawwassen Mills, Liu talks graphically about growing up in China “filled with horror” about an abusive father, her fantasy of becoming the prime minister of Canada, and her fondness for her adopted country, where she says she has never been discriminated against.

In the rambling, four-part, 2.5-hour YouTube program, Liu denies rumours in the Chinese community that her Canadian businesses are a front for the Chinese Communist Party elite, that she was once a mistress of a high-level Communist official, and is the niece of notorious Adm. Huaqing Liu of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

Instead, she strongly criticizes China and some of its functionaries, including for overseeing a stagnant economy and having a lack of “self-criticism.” She says she “runs the risk of getting arrested” in the authoritarian country she left a decade ago. “All the wealthy people who can flee have already left.”

The extraordinary program was put together last year by 56 Below TV, a small YouTube operation run by Dong Nan. In it, Liu, who often repeats she doesn’t have a spouse, begins by showing off her magnificent new gated estate, with a 10,000-square-foot mansion, on the University of B.C. Endowment Lands.

While giving a tour of her indoor pools and wine rooms during the program, she displays the replica chair of “the Queen of England” that she had built, saying it is “exciting to feel the wealth and power” when she sits in it.

“I have a Rolls-Royce. I have a Lamborghini. And a Mercedes-Benz,” she adds. When people maintain she is the wealthiest woman in Vancouver, she acknowledges she “feels it.” She also doesn’t contradict when it’s said others dub her the “wealthiest Chinese billionaire in Vancouver.”

Liu readily acknowledges that in China she was a leading member of many business organizations created by the Communist Party to advance the government’s schemes at home and abroad.

For instance, Liu says she felt “triumphant” to be appointed to the powerful Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, otherwise her rivals would have made sure she was “crushed to death.”

When the interviewer asks about suggestions her malls and Vancouver Island golf course, called Arbutus Ridge, are a “white glove” for rich residents of China who want to get their money out, Liu denies it.

The Chinese term “white glove” refers to intermediaries who launder illicit money through seemingly legitimate business fronts.

While Liu shows respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his challenges, she expressed disgust for many Communist Party officials and other billionaires. She describes attempts by some to destroy her as a businesswoman in China, where she mostly ran shopping centres.

Their vicious actions against her, she says, led to her losing hundreds of millions of dollars and becoming suicidal. “That’s why I hate the bad guys in the Communist Party.”

She also claims that plotting Chinese billionaires tried to undermine her via a female Chinese reporter in 2012, whom she punched in the chest at a news conference. It caused a sensation.

“Assaulting a journalist is a big deal. That was a turning point in my life,” Liu says. A couple of years later, she departed China for B.C. “Can you imagine how scary China can be? The people have been rendered dumb.”

Liu breaks down in tears while describing her treatment by other billionaires, one of several times she cries in the recording. The other times are when she graphically describes abuse of her mother by her father, both of whom are dead, and herself.

One of Liu’s assistants says in the video that Liu, whose umbrella company is called Central Walk, hasn’t given any other interviews in Canada for more than three years. Postmedia has not been able to reach her.

The program makes it clear it was Liu who approached 56 Below TV about visiting her estate, plus the golf course and malls she has bought for close to $1 billion in the past four years.

She did so, she says, as a way to reach out to the “Chinese diaspora” through 56 Below TV and its interviewer Dong Nan, who is becoming known for his Chinese-language YouTube series titled The life of the Wealthiest Chinese in Canada!

The program includes Liu driving a golf cart through Tsawwassen Mills shopping centre, visiting workers and the food court, where she says, “I don’t like much of the food here.”

Since her mall is on land owned by the Tsawwassen First Nation, she is shown describing a “colossal” staging area in the mall where people would perform “in their Indigenous clothes like the old time.”

She believes customers will post the First Nations performances on social media and promote the mall. To counteract how shopping centres have become a “sunset industry,” she also imagines sprucing up Tsawwassen Mills with a 200-metre Chinatown section “that will become famous all over,” as well as a zone called I Love You Street.

Liu says she wishes she had been born in Canada, where she sleeps better and her daughter experiences less pollution.

She also wishes she could speak English. If that was the case, she says enthusiastically several times, it would have made it possible for her “to run for mayor, premier or even prime minister.”

After being filmed on a B.C. Ferries trip to tour the Woodgrove mall in Nanaimo, Liu says residents find her “talented” and “awesome” for improving it.

In return, she loves all the people of B.C. “The society is really open,” she says. “They like Chinese.”

At one point, Liu quotes a Chinese proverb, which states, “In times of political darkness … the wise should hide.” She couldn’t do so in troubled China, she says.

So she came to Canada.