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Harper: Canada committed to further promote strategic partnership with China

OTTAWA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday that his government is committed to further promote the strategic partnership between Canada and China.

Harper made the remarks during his meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai in the Prime Minister Office, where he announced that he has accepted an invitation from the Chinese government to visit China during the second week of February.

Harper said that Canada and China enjoy a strategic partnership based on mutual respect and collaboration, and rooted in strong social and cultural links, shared by over one million Canadians of Chinese descent.

"Our Government is committed to moving our relationship with China forward by focusing on deepening economic ties, including opening new markets, and setting the foundation for long-term growth," he added.

Harper said he is really looking forward to the visit and to meeting with Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

In his response, Ambassador Zhang said that Harper's visit will be very important and a highlight in China-Canada bilateral relations.

Harper's visit will build on his successful trip to China in December 2009, when China announced that it would grant Canada Approved Destination Status (ADS).

This visit also follows the June 2010 visit to Canada of President Hu, when the two leaders witnessed the signing of new initiatives on bilateral cooperation in various sectors.

Canada and China celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations in 2010, and China is Canada's second-largest merchandise trading partner, next only to the United States, and a key customer for Canadian natural resources and agricultural products.

According to Canada's statistics, bilateral merchandise trade reached 57.7 billion Canadian dollars (52 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010, while overall trade between the two countries more than tripled between 2001 and 2010.

Canada has also been negotiating a foreign investment and protection agreement with China, which the government expects will increase two-way trade.

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