'Da Shan' denies part in political scandal
Canadian Mark Rowswell, well known in China by his local monicker "Da Shan," has denied being involved in a political scandal in his native country.
Having lived in China for nearly 20 years, Rowswell is a household name for his Chinese cross-talk and comedy.
According to the New Star Weekly, a Canadian Chinese-language paper, the federal government financed a television series hosted by Rowswell with C$10 million (US$8 million) in the 1990s.
The problem, however, is that the English-teaching series, entitled "Da Shan & Friends in Canada" and broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV), was funded through a special Canadian sponsorship programme which was designed to increase support for federalism in post-referendum Quebec.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien approved the fund whilst in power.
"There are not too many Quebec federalists in China," said a bemused Canadian Gomery Commission, the panel looking into the fund's misuse. It has been reported that nearly half of the C$250 million (US$201 million) anti-secession fund was handed out to Liberal-friendly enterprises and individuals.
According to a statement on Rowswell's personal website, the TV series was developed by Toronto-based Vickers & Benson (V&B) in co-operation with CCTV.
He was hired by the partners to help design and host the programme, reads the statement.
"I was not involved in the funding or budgeting of the TV serials. All these affairs were operated by V&B," said Rowswell who is currently vacationing in Canada.
"Da Shan & Friends in Canada" has 26 parts and lasts about 13 hours. It reportedly cost nearly C$400,000 (US$330,000) to make each part.