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Minister Counsellor Dr. Huang Huikang speaks on China-Canada Relations and the Perceptions of Canada's China Policy


China-Canada Relations and Our Perceptions of

Canada's China Policy

--Speech by Dr. Huang Huikang

At the Queen's Foreign Policy Conference 2006

(Feb. 9, 2006, Ottawa)

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honor to attend your conference and share my view with you. First of all, I would like to thank the sponsor of the conference, Queen's International Affairs Association for your kind invitation. It gives me great pleasure to get together with so many friends, old and new. Your thoughts, perspectives and proposals will certainly contribute to the further development of Canada's foreign policy and the amicable bilateral relations between China and Canada as well. Today, my speech will focus on the relationship between the two countries, and our perceptions of Canada's policy towards China.

Ladies and Gentlemen, since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Canada in 1970, thanks to the joint efforts of the two sides, our bilateral relations have developed smoothly, featuring close exchanges and contacts at all levels, constant expanding cooperation, quickly increased trade, and good communication and close cooperation on the international affairs. In particular, during President Hu Jintao's visit to Canada last September, the two countries established the strategic partnership, which upgraded the bilateral relations to a higher level.

Having said that, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly review what we have achieved in recent years.

I. Review of China-Canada Relations

In fact, the Chinese and Canadians began their exchanges long time ago. Hundreds and thousands of Chinese emigrants came to Canada building the pacific railroad about 100 years ago. During World War II, the Chinese and Canadians fought shoulder to shoulder, over 500 Canadian soldiers laid down their precious lives defending Hong Kong. Dr. Norman Bethune, who went to China to join the Chinese fighting against Japanese aggression and worked very hard to save the dying and heal the wounded, has been one of the most popular names in China for many decades.

In later 1950s and early 1960s, the Conservative Government of Canada, upon the recommendation of the then Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Francis Alvin George Hamilton, decided to sell Canadian's surplus grain to China despite the strong pressure and opposition arising from the cold war conflicts. Over $422 million worth of wheat and barley was sold to China in two and a half years. These sales not only provided China with grains, but also stimulated and restored the agricultural prosperity of Canada--the average farm income tripled--and created a lasting legacy for the Conservative government.

In 1970, Canada was among the first western nations to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. The Chinese people will not forget what the Canadians did for them.

Now we are entering the 36th year of our diplomatic relationships. It is fair to say that China-Canada relations are moving ahead steadily, harvesting the fruit of more than 3 decades of development.

In the political aspect of China-Canada relations, the most outstanding characteristics is that the leaders of the two countries have forged close relationship and exchanged visits frequently. In 1997, the leaders of the two countries agreed to establish the partnership of comprehensive cooperation. In December 2003, during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Canada, the idea of establishing a Strategic Working Group was initiated by the Canadian side. In January 2005, the SWG was officially launched and later in August its first session was successfully held. Soon in September, during President Hu Jintao's visit to Canada, the two sides agreed to upgrade their bilateral relationship to the strategic partnership. This move meets the needs of our times and the wishes of our two peoples, and it completely serves the common interests of the citizens of the two countries.

The strategic partnership between China and Canada is indeed one kind of new relationship between states, which is not aimed at any third party, nor does it take after any country blocks of the Cold War. It seems to me that it contains five fundamental elements, namely, equality, respect and trust each other, close and all-round cooperation, mutual benefits, expanding common ground while properly managing difference, and finally a long-term and stable cooperative mechanism. Based on this partnership, the two sides will work together to push for an all-dimensional and mutually beneficial cooperation to cover more extensively the political, economic, trade, science and technology, culture, education, health, environment and other fields, and bring two-way trade to over US$30 billion by 2010. We also agreed to step up bilateral consultation and coordination on major international and regional issues and work together to make still greater contribution to world peace and common development.

In the aspect of trade and economic cooperation, the deepening economic partnership serves as a key component of and important driving force for the bilateral relations. Thanks to our joint efforts, China-Canada economic ties have evolved from small, simple-item commodity trade into all-dimensional cooperation covering trade in commodity and services, capital flows and personnel exchanges. According to Chinese statistics, two-way trade increased over 100 times from US$150 million in 1970 to US$10 billion in 2003, to US$15.5 billion in 2004, and to US$19.17 billion in 2005, a record high. Consumer goods and household electrical appliances made in China, good in quality and affordable in prices, meet the needs of Canadian consumers. Canada's capital, technologies and managerial expertise have added fresh vitality to China's growing economy. Canada-made high-speed locomotives and buses equipped with gas-powered Canadian engines are running all over China. China has risen to the 2nd largest trading partner of Canada, only after the U.S., and Canada China's 10th largest trading partner. Since 1980, Canada began its direct investment in China. By the end of 2005, the total number of projects directly invested by Canada in China has amounted to 8900, with contracted investment around US $17 billion. Meanwhile, additional 21 Chinese enterprises have established in Canada for the past year alone. All in all, the rapid development of China-Canada economic partnership has delivered enormous tangible benefits to the two peoples.

However, given the size of the two economies and our respective foreign trade volume, there is still a great potential for bilateral trade and economic cooperation. At present, China-Canada trade accounts for only 1.3% and 2.6% of their respective foreign trade volumes. Canadian investment in China makes up less than 1% of China's FDI, while Chinese investment in Canada is barely starting. Canada, with its highly developed economy, complete industrial sectors and rich natural resources, and China, with its rapid growth and huge market, are highly complementary. It is therefore a common task before the governments and business communities of China and Canada to seize the historic opportunities, expand the areas of cooperation and move our trade and economic cooperation to a new high.

The active bilateral exchange has also yielded fruitful results in many other areas. The flourishing cultural exchange brought to Canada large-scaled Chinese cultural programs, such as the Beijing Culture Week, Xi'an Culture Season and China Tibetan Culture Week. Many Canadians enjoy this unique cultural experience.

The two sides have signed more than 20 agreements and MOUs, spanning extensive scientific areas ranging from energy, environment, metrology, geology, to mining and agriculture.

Education has turned out to be a new growth point in our relations. In the past few years, we have signed 6 cooperative agreements and MOUs, and numerous partnerships have been fostered between the higher education institutions of the two countries. There are more than 55, 000 Chinese students studying in Canada, and over 1,200 Canadian students studying in China.

At the international arena, our cooperation has been equally productive. Canada supported Shanghai in its bid for 2010 World Expo, while China supported Whistler in its bid for 2010 Winter Olympics. Canada rooted up for China's entry into the International Thermal nuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, while China lent its support to Canada's candidature for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council. And the two countries have worked together in the important sector of the UN reform.

Today, as we review our relationship, there is no reason that we should not feel proud of what we have achieved so far. This dynamic and multi-faceted relationship is a tribute to the tireless efforts of both the governments and peoples of our two countries.

II. Expanding Common Ground in our Relations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over these 36 years, the world has undergone profound changes. Mankind has moved out of the dark shadow cast by the Cold War standoff, with peace, development and cooperation emerging as the irresistible trend of history. With their interests intertwining, countries have become increasingly interdependent. In the meantime, many factors of instability and insecurity remain, such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, drug trafficking, spread of deadly diseases and other outstanding global problems.

Against such a backdrop, China-Canada common interest has increased; the foundation of their cooperation further solidified. A key reason behind the sound growth of our relations is that China and Canada, as two great countries and international actors along the Pacific Rim, share common interests in maintaining peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. Economically, our two economies are complimentary to each other. China is the world's biggest developing country with a huge potential market. While Canada, one of the leading industrialized economies in the world is known for rich natural resources, strong financial strength and cutting-edge technologies. With respective advantages, the two economies make an ideal pair of partners for mutually beneficial cooperation. We have no fundamental conflict of interests but much common ground instead. And we know that to develop a mutually beneficial relationship is in the interest of our two countries and peoples.

Facts have proved that though different in social system, level of economic development, cultural and historical background as well as views on human rights and Tibet issues, China and Canada can still manage to achieve smooth development in their relations, as long as they respect each other, treat each other as equals and seek common grounds while shelving the differences. Equality and mutual benefit not only serve as guiding principles for the international relations but also a guarantee for the long-term friendship between the Chinese and Canadian peoples.

The existing good relationship between China and Canada did not come by easily. We should all the more cherish what we have achieved by constantly seeking common ground and shelving the differences.

III. Our Perceptions of Canada's China Policy

As a senior Chinese diplomat posted in Canada, I have full confidence in the prospects of China-Canada relations. We are glad to see the latest development on the part of the Canadian Government regarding its policy with China, which, we believe, will help bring good opportunities to further developments in future.

1) Pacific Gateway Strategy

The Asia-Pacific region, thanks to its sustained economic growth and deepening regional cooperation, has become the world's most dynamic region with the greatest development potential.

Early 2005, the Canadian Government introduced the important strategy of building a "Pacific Gateway", mapping out the plan for developing a trade, investment and transportation hub oriented towards the Asia-Pacific region so as to meet the growing needs for economic cooperation and personnel exchanges between Canada and the Asia-Pacific. The Chinese side appreciates this idea of vision, which, I believe, will give greater impetus to the economic and technological cooperation between Canada and the Asia-Pacific region and create better conditions for expanded cooperation between China and Canada in such key areas as trade, energy and mineral resources.

China and Canada are two important Pacific-rim countries. The Asia-Pacific region is our common home. An expanded cooperation between China and Canada with greater cooperation and development across the region serves the mutual interests of the Chinese and Canadian peoples and the people in the region as a whole. I believe this is the opportunity we should seize to further tap the cooperation potential, and work to create a better future for China-Canada relations while continuing to make a contribution to the development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

2) The Strategic Partnership

It is the most important decision that the leaders of the two countries agreed to upgrade the bilateral relations to a level of strategic partnership. This move is of great significance. Cultivating all-round cooperation through a strategic partnership contributes to the steady growth of our relationship. The two sides will work to put in place a long-term and stable cooperation framework, make full use of existing mechanisms such as the bilateral strategic working group, trade and economic joint commission and agricultural joint commission to further tap the cooperation potential and establish, if necessary, new cooperation mechanisms. Our potential cooperative sectors span a wide spectrum, ranging from multilateral cooperation to natural resources and energy, trade and investment, transportation and tourism, education and culture and sustainable development.

One of the premier tasks under the framework of strategic partnership is to upgrade China-Canada economic cooperation so as to reap the benefits of our respective strong points and achieve win-win results. To this end, President Hu pointed out five areas where the two sides should pool their efforts.

First, to step up mutual investment and expand the areas of investment;

Second, to enhance cooperation in energy and resources and forge a long-term and stable partnership.

Third, to promote cooperation in service trade and cultivate new growth points in the mutually beneficial cooperation.

Fourth, to strengthen dialogue on trade policy and improve the cooperation climate; and

Fifth, to promote exchanges in various fields and prepare a solid foundation for enhanced cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said, "When you reach the age of 30, you reach maturity". I think this remark aptly describes the evolution of China-Canada relations that have entered its 36th year. It is a time to assess past progress and look ahead for future achievement. China is ready to work with the Canadian Government to chart new territory -- new areas of cooperation and mutual benefit; new areas of sharing and exchange; new areas of growth and development and build stronger and more dynamic relations in the years to come.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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