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Ambassador Cong Peiwu publishes a signed article on The Star
2020/06/20

On June 19, 2020, The Star published a signed article by Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu titled "Some reflections on China-Canada relations". Here is the full text:

Recently, Canadian media and scholars have discussed a lot about China-Canada relations. We have heard such arguments as "there are no common interests between China and Canada," "the China-Canada relationship is not worth saving," and "Canada should deal with China together with countries sharing the same values."

I was shocked by these public arguments that attempt to downgrade our relationship and sow discord between China and Canada. There are some acute issues in China-Canada relations currently, which leads to severe hardships in bilateral ties.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Canada, we should take and reflect on these issues seriously. There is no need to be fearful of problems; what is fearful is being apathetic or unable to understand and solve problems from a proper perspective. I want to share my observations and reflections.

First, is it necessary to maintain China-Canada relations? Fifty years ago, amid the raging Cold War between East and West and the fierce confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, the leaders of China and Canada made a correct decision to establish diplomatic relations by overcoming numerous obstacles and difficulties.

They realized that the development of bilateral relations is in line with the trends of the times and the long-term interests of the two peoples. Their political courage and vision have always been impressive. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 50 years ago, China-Canada relations have generally maintained a momentum of development, benefiting the two peoples a lot. Especially in recent years, with China's deepening reform and expanding opening up, the traditional friendship between China and Canada has renewed its vitality.

The trade volume between China and Canada reached $74 billion U.S. last year, nearly 500 times that in the 1970s. Over 200,000 Chinese students are studying in Canada, and over 1.5 million tourists travel between the two countries every year. Both sides share common views in maintaining multilateralism and free trade, supporting the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the World Health Organization, and responding to climate change and other major issues related to world peace and development.

This year, the two countries have assisted each other in medical supplies in the face of difficulties in fighting against COVID-19, which once again showcasing the fine tradition of mutual support between China and Canada in difficult times. The argument that "the China-Canada relationship is not worth saving" falls apart in the face of these solid facts.

Second, what is the crux of the China-Canada relationship? Many people think it is the values. But as far as I am concerned, the biggest problem in the current China-Canada relations largely comes from the interference of third parties.

The Chinese side believes that the Meng Wanzhou case is a grave political incident concocted by the United States to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises. It has been proved by the United States' constant use of national power, drawing, and even intimidating allies to exert maximum pressure on Huawei. The United States often uses state apparatus to suppress other countries'enterprises through "unilateral sanctions" and "long-arm jurisdiction." The French company Alstom is a good example. The international community sees this very clearly.

Additionally, the United States has vigorously promoted "America First" worldwide at the expense of others. It is prone to wield a big stick of tariffs against other countries. Multilateral mechanisms and agreements are applied if it wants and abandoned if it doesn't. "Withdrawal" and "breach of contract" are constantly on show.

In recent years, the United States has withdrawn or announced to withdraw from more than ten important organizations and treaties such as the World Health Organization, United Nations Human Rights Council, and the Paris Agreement. What the United States has done harms the common interests of the international community. Those insightful people in Canada have seen it through. Canada is taken advantage of by the U.S. in the Meng Wanzhou case, and the United States is indeed the troublemaker in China-Canada relations.

At last, what is the way out for China-Canada relations? The Canadian people have a tradition of independence and a self-reliance spirit. Regarding major issues such as the Iraq War, the Cuban question, and the COVID-19 response, Canada has stayed committed to making independent choices based on international fairness and justice, which not only safeguards its interests but also wins an international reputation.

Canada was a pace-setter among Western countries in terms of developing relations with China. The Chinese side always believes that there are no historical issues and conflicts of fundamental interests between China and Canada. The bilateral economic, trade and cultural cooperation is full of vitality, and the bilateral relations can and should develop better.

The Chinese side never takes the initiative to stir up trouble and will never do anything to interfere in Canada's internal affairs or undermine China-Canada relations. As long as we uphold mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit and strive to eliminate third-party interference, China-Canada relations can move forward in a healthy and stable manner, which is the fundamental way out for China-Canada relations.

The Chinese side does not ask Canada to "make a choice" between China and the United States and believes that the Canadian side is wise enough to actively cooperate with China while managing its relations with the United States. The Chinese side expects the Canadian side to make a correct decision to properly overcome obstacles between China-Canada relations based on its interests and the merits of the matter itself.

Fifty years may mean half of the journey for human life. But for China-Canada relations, it's just a prelude. I believe the road our predecessors paved for China-Canada relations remains broad, and the cooperation potential between the two sides is still enormous. Still, they all rely on our decisions and choices.

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