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Ambassador Zhang Junsai on upcoming visit to China by Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

At the invitation of H.E. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic of China, Prime Minister Harper will pay an official visit to China in early February. This will be his first visit after his successful re-election last May, yet another important high-level exchange between the two countries following President Hu Jintao's visit to Canada in June 2010.

The present China-Canadian relations are undergoing good development, with frequent high-level contacts between leaders of the two countries and a strong momentum of cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, science and technology, education, culture and etc. While the Chinese Government views China-Canada relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, Prime Minister Harper and his cabinet fully support strengthening dialogue and cooperation with China. And the China-Canada relations are facing fresh opportunities never seen before. The visit to China by Prime Minister Harper comes just at the right time. I am convinced that with the joint efforts of both sides, the visit will achieve positive results in various areas, and will serve as a new highlight in the comprehensive development of China-Canada strategic partnership.

Firstly, the visit will further deepen the mutual trust. Close contacts between leaders of two countries have become a feature of the recent China-Canada relations. During the visit, both leaders will have in-depth exchange of views, so as to further consolidate the consensus on the strategic direction of this important bilateral relationship. They will also put forward guidance for the deepening of friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation by the two countries in various fields and opening up new areas for pragmatic cooperation. The growing political mutual trust between the two sides is the bedrock and an important driver for the healthy and stable development of China-Canada relations.

Secondly, the visit will create a stable institutional environment for trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. Right now, both sides are working hard on the joint study of economic complementarities between China and Canada, which will help to further tap into the potentials for expanded economic cooperation between the two economies. Apart from findings from this study, I'd expect that the visit will also see both sides signing a series of cooperation agreements and MOUs, which will provide investors from both countries a more stable and predictable legal and policy framework, and help them to further indentify the direction for future cooperation.

Thirdly, the visit will promote mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of energy and resources in the long run. China is undergoing rapid industrialization and urbanization, and its demand for energy and resources is simply huge. Canada, on the other hand, is rich in energy and resources, which also boasts for its stable political situation as well as favorable conditions for investment. The two countries have every reason to forge a stable and win-win partnership in the long run in the field of resources. Last year only saw Chinese enterprises invested more than 5 billion US dollars in this resource sector in Canada. It is widely believed that the issue of energy and resources cooperation will be high on the agenda for the leaders of two countries during the upcoming visit by Prime Minister Harper. Given the uncertainty of global economic recovery, the deepening economic cooperation between China and Canada, especially in the energy and resource sector, will not only bring concrete benefits to the peoples of both countries, moreover, it will send out a much more positive signal. I am happy to learn that Premier Harper is bringing with him a large group of business people from Canada, and they will work out more business opportunities with their counterparts in China for common growth.

Fourthly, the visit will foster new growth engines of the bilateral cooperation. China is implementing its 12th five-year plan and making every effort to transform its economic development mode. And one of the key elements is the development of strategic emerging industries and technology innovation, which are essential for the sustainability of China's growth. Canada has featured advantages in high-tech industries such as energy-saving and environmental protection, clean energy, IT, aerospace, aviation and bio-pharmaceutical industries. It has a lot to offer. And China is more than ready to learn from Canada, to introduce more Canadian advanced technology into China and to launch joint science research with Canada. Last year, under the framework of various bilateral dialogues on energy, science and technology, health and environmental-protection, the two countries worked together to draw up new plans on further accelerating bilateral cooperation in these fields. Prime Minister Harper's visit will inject fresh impetus in the implementation of these plans. I believe, the visit will yield new achievements in the bilateral cooperation in high-tech, green growth and sustainable development, thus greatly improving the quality of China-Canadian cooperation of mutual benefits.

Fifthly, the visit will expand people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Canada and China are different in terms of history, culture, social system and stage of development, it is only natural that the two sides have different views on certain issues. Instead of being barriers, these differences should be drivers for deeper understanding. It has become the shared aspiration that education, tourism, and culture should be the new strategic pillars for the bilateral relations, as more exchanges and cooperation in these areas are the key to enhanced mutual understanding and friendship.

And it is my sincere hope that, the Canadian journalists accompanying Prime Minister Harper will bring to the home audience through their reports a true and vivid China.

Furthermore, China and Canada are both major countries in the Asia-Pacific region and important members of G20, APEC and other multilateral structures. During his trip to China, Prime Minister Harper will have great opportunities to talk to his counterparts in depth on significant global and regional issues of common concern. It is the shared responsibility for China and Canada to play their due role in promoting peace and development of the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.

The world is undergoing profound change with the global economic outlook still gloomy. So long as China and Canada adhere to the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits, seeking common grounds while putting aside differences, there is no doubt that the relations between the two will become a shining example of win-win scenario even among states of different social systems and stages of development.

I have every confidence that the visit by Prime Minister Harper will be a sound success.

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