Alistair Vigier (韦理德) is the CEO of Clearway Law, both in Canada and China. He is both Canadian and British. In Canada, he helps many people connect with the correct lawyer for legal issues. These legal issues often involve divorce and lawsuits.
Alistair Vigier spends most of his time between Vancouver and Toronto. When he can, he travels to Beijing and Shanghai. His favourite city in China to visit is the city of Chengdu. Most people think this is because of the spicy food. This is not true. It’s also not because of the pandas. It’s because of the New Century Global Center! In particular, Alistair likes the spa part of the Chengdu Intercontinental hotel.
You can see an article Alistair Vigier wrote on Chinese culture below.
What Alistair Vigier Learned About Chinese Culture
I’ve been involved with the Chinese community in Canada for over eight years. When I first got involved, all I knew was that the Chinese loved Chow Mein, Wonton Soup, and sweet and sour beef.
Little did I know that these foods in Canada were targeting white people. That explains why at restaurants like “Mr Wong’s” I never saw any Chinese.
Years later, I realized Chinese people were at places like seafood restaurants in Richmond, or traditional hot place restaurants serving things that were odd to me. This included eating blood, brains, and stinky tofu.
I had much to learn about Chinese culture.
Besides food, I really didn’t know anything about China itself.
The Chinese Love To Eat
I didn’t realize how little Canadians and Americans care about food until I made Chinese friends and business partners.
If eating food and late-night drinking was a sport at the Olympics, then China would win the gold medal every time.
The first thing that would be discussed in the morning was where we would meet to eat lunch. And during lunch, we would discuss where to meet after work for dinner and lunches.
On some days, I would get invited to two lunches on one day. I would have to bring casual clothes if I was meeting friends, and business clothes if I got invited to a business lunch or dinner.
I was quite surprised that Chinese businesspeople could drink bottles of wine at lunch, and then go back to work and be productive.
Some lawyers in Beijing that I know would even drink before going to court.
After drinking wine, I need to sleep. I have always preferred coffee and tea to wine.
Photo: Food Alistair was given in Beijing
Alistair Vigier’s Visit To China
After being in the Chinese community for so long, and constantly being told I need to visit China, I decided to go.
When I arrived in China, it was definitely one of the most exotic places I had ever been to. The smells were different, many people did not speak English, and the foods were certainly not wonton soup.
On my first day in China, I was treated to Peking duck. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t called Beijing Duck, but it was delicious! I felt that if more westerns knew about Peking duck, they would love it!
My Chinese friends were surprised that I loved Malatang so much. Apparently, Malatang translates into “spicy hot pot.”
However, Malatang is not hot pot. The point of hot pot is to sit around with your friends, and everything goes into a pot, that is hot.
Malatang is more of a “Subway sandwich” type of deal. You go to the wall, and you pick whatever you want. Then they prepare it for you.
You do not share with others. If you don’t want pig blood in your food, you don’t have to grab it. As for me, I loved the purple yam balls. I had never seen that before in Canada.
Photo: Alistair Vigier in Shanghai, China
Alistair Vigier Is Pushing For Co-operation Between The Two Countries
One thing I found is how much I like the Chinese. It’s funny, I never met a single mean or racist Chinese person.
Nationalism is a common term that gets talked about with China in the western media. That led me to believe that a lot of Chinese people hate foreigners.
I am sure some do. There are always angry people that spend all their time reading news on the internet. However, I never personally experienced it. Instead, in some remote cities (not Shanghai) locals asked to take pictures with me.
If the Chinese love coming to Canada, and if Canadians love going to China (mostly Shanghai), then there is no reason why the two countries shouldn’t get along.
Women I have dated, friends I have made, and business partners in the Chinese community have shared a lot of interesting thoughts on Chinese and western cultures.
This article explained my learning about Chinese culture. In a future article, I will cover what I heard Chinese people learned from Canada culture when they moved here.
I hope to make this article part of a multi-article series that will talk about Canada and Chinese culture and co-operation.
Alistair Vigier (韦理德) is the CEO of ClearWay Law, a company that connects people that need a lawyer with a law firm in Canada and Beijing.