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My Interpretation of Prime Minister Harper's Third Visit to China
2014/11/23

In early November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper successfully paid his third official visit to China. The leaders from both countries held in-depth, productive and candid exchange of views on China-Canada relations,international and regional issues of common interest as well as human rights and other issues, and reached broad consensus on deepening bilateral cooperation in politics, economy and trade and people-to-people exchanges. The two sides also inked cooperation agreements worth as much as 2.5 billion Canadian dollars and announced a Joint List of Outcomes covering a wide range of areas, charting a roadmap for future bilateral cooperation. As Mr. Harper wrapped up his third visit to China, it delivered a new milestone in the development of China-Canada relations.

Firstly, significant progress has been made in institution-building of China-Canada relations. More than 40 existing mechanisms of dialogue and cooperation between China and Canada have strongly promoted communication and cooperation between the two sides in various areas.

During this visit, the two sides agreed to strengthen contacts and communication between their leaders and further establish an annual Foreign Affairs Ministers Dialogue and an annual Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue. By setting up high-level platforms for bilateral dialogue, this new development which embodies the strategic nature and high level development of China-Canada relations will play an important role in planning bilateral relationship and cooperation in various fields.

Secondly, major breakthroughs have been achieved in mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation.

The People's Bank of China and Bank of Canada signed a bilateral currency swap agreement with a reciprocal maximum of 30 billion Canadian dollars, and decided to establish the first North America's Renminbi clearing center in Toronto. The Chinese regulators have also granted an initial Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) quota in the amount of 50 billion RMB to Canadian financial institutions. These arrangements will enormously reduce transaction cost in bilateral trade, facilitate two-way trade and investment, and help Canadian investors share China's development dividend.

Both sides are committed to establishing new direct air links between Calgary and Beijing as well as Montreal and Beijing, while cooperation between Chinese and Canadian airliners is underway to launch direct flights at an early date. Once established, the new air links will greatly facilitate bilateral people-to-people exchanges and promote trade, investment and tourism cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides declared 2015-2016 as the China-Canada Cultural Exchange Year, and further agreed on co-production of television series and movies to facilitate the people-to-people exchanges.

The two sides also agreed to promote market access for Canadian fresh cherries and blueberries, and continue discussions on exporting more Canadian beef to China. China's huge market will provide tremendous opportunities for Canadian competitive agricultural products.

The two sides signed an expanded Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Cooperation. In addition, Canada's Candu Energy will set up a joint venture with China National Nuclear Corporation in order to jointly explore Chinese and international civil nuclear energy markets. Such major cooperation project has added more value to bilateral trade and economic cooperation as well as enriched the contents of comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

The above-mentioned outcomes of Prime Minister Harper's visit will undoubtedly promote even closer bilateral trade and economic ties, injecting new vitality into the two countries' efforts to promote prosperity and increase employment opportunities.

Thirdly, both sides agreed to strengthen anti-corruption law enforcement cooperation. Corruption is now recognized to be the world's common enemy. China is stepping up its anti-corruption efforts with an aim to achieve social justice and righteousness by the rule of law. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in hunting for those engaged in corruption who have fled abroad and recovering their ill-gotten gains. Mr. Harper also stressed that Canada has no intention to "harbor fugitives", and is willing to collaborate with China in their repatriation. Bilateral cooperation in this regard will make a positive contribution to the global anti-corruption cause.

Fourthly, the two sides have mapped out key areas for their future cooperation. China has been Canada's second largest trading partner, second largest source of import and second largest export market while Canada is China's second largest overseas investment destination. At the joint press conference with Mr. Harper, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang suggested that the two sides strive to increase cooperation in advancing some of "the second" into " the first".

In this context, China and Canada agreed to establish a Track II dialogue mechanism to study new approaches to enhance bilateral economic and trade relations, including signing a free trade agreement and building an environmentally safe maritime energy corridor. This will not only serve to tap our economic and trade cooperation potentials, but also conform to the two major trends in today's Asia-Pacific region, namely free trade agreement and connectivity.

Treading on the ground of two previous visits, Prime Minister Harper's third visit to China goes far with more fruitful achievement. It demonstrates the positiveness, openness and maturity of bilateral relationship, lays a more solid foundation for our win-win cooperation, and promises a brighter future for China-Canada relations. More importantly, actions speak louder than words. We should make the best of this visit to fully implement the Joint List of Outcomes and consensus. We should jointly accelerate cooperation to a larger scale, a higher level and a better structure for greater benefits of the people of our two countries, the Asia-Pacific and the world as a whole.

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