HONG KONG – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid homage Tuesday to Canadian soldiers who died after fighting to defend Hong Kong during the Second World War.
On the final day of his week-long visit to China, Trudeau toured the mountainside Sai Wan War Cemetery. He also laid a wreath at a memorial engraved with the names of Canadian soldiers.
Trudeau walked past several rows of graves bearing the names of Canadians – each decorated with a single poppy and the Maple Leaf.
There are 1,505 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried in the cemetery, including 283 Canadians who died after engaging the Japanese. Of those Canadian casualties, 107 were unidentified.
Local historian Tony Banham, who specializes in Hong Kong during the Second World War, joined Trudeau on his tour of the cemetery.
“To us in Hong Kong – I’ve been here 30-odd years – people don’t forget,” Banham told reporters afterwards.
“This casualty rate was horrendous and people from Canada and other countries who came here didn’t have to be here.
“They came here to attempt to defend Hong Kong. Hong Kong fell to the Japanese and for the next three years, eight months Hong Kong had a really terrible time. So, these people will not be forgotten.”
Banham said many of the Canadians buried in the cemetery died after the battle as prisoners of war.
On Tuesday, Trudeau also met with billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, at his cavernous office on the 70th floor of a Hong Kong tower. Li is considered one of the richest people in Asia.
Shortly after they sat down, the prime minister talked to Li about Canada’s connections with China, Hong Kong, and Asia in general.
Later Tuesday, Trudeau will speak at a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and meet with the chief executive of Hong Kong.