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Mutually Beneficial and Win-Win Bilateral Relations Call for Joint Efforts from both China and Canada
By Ambassador Lu Shaye, published in CCBC's 2017 year book
2017/09/21

China has always attached importance to its relations with Canada and made great efforts to promote bilateral cooperation in various fields. This is, on one hand, derived from China's independent foreign policy of peace. On the other hand, China and Canada have the conditions and potential for mutually beneficial cooperation. Historically, China-Canada relations have had a golden era and preceded China's relations with other western nations. Meanwhile, our bilateral relations have also suffered downturns. It is worthwhile to summarize and learn from the experience and the lessons. Currently, although China-Canada relations enjoy a sound momentum, there are still some issues and challenges to be taken seriously.

Since I assumed the post of Chinese Ambassador to Canada, I have visited some provinces including Ontario, Quebec, British Colombia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon. Wherever I visited, I met with governmental officials, friends from the industrial and commercial communities, universities, think tanks, media as well as Chinese community, and had extensive communications and exchanges with them. By doing so, I have tried to get a wider picture of this country, observe carefully the status quo of China-Canada relations and dive deep into the current issues and corresponding solutions. I learnt a lot in this process.

In my observation, the Canadian federal government takes a very positive attitude towards cooperation with China. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exchanged visits last year with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, promoting our bilateral relations to a new Golden Era. Several Canadian federal ministers visited China to explore further cooperation in various areas. The two sides have conducted four rounds of exploratory discussions on a free trade agreement (FTA) and reached many consensus.

Canada's local governments are also enthusiastic about cooperation with China, especially those provinces I have visited are taking the lead in such cooperation. Bilateral trades between China and those provinces are booming. China has also invested much in those provinces and created a large number of local jobs. In recent years, premiers and ministers from those provinces have visited China frequently in seeking of business opportunities.

Canada's industrial and commercial communities have given strong support to the development of China-Canada relations. They have had a better understanding of China and found the attractions of China's huge market through frequent contacts with the Chinese side.

The Canadian public also support cooperation with China. A recent poll by Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada indicates that more than half of Canadians are in favor of signing a FTA with China. The people I have contacted here are very friendly to China.

However, I have also found the major problem, that is, what I have heard from the Canadian media is fairly different from the facts I know. The media casts so many doubts and questions over China and worries and even opposes cooperation with China. For example, they question the investments from China, worry that China is stealing Canada's technology and will buy out the resources here. They assert that the state owned enterprises from China are proxies of the Chinese government that might threaten Canada's national security. Also, they oppose the signing of the FTA with China and claim that Canada would have much more to lose from it. They even view China as a nation without democracy and human rights, and counsel that Canada shall not fall into the pit of giving up their values and principles for the economic benefits from China.

In fact, some Canadian media outlets are full of negative news about China. They observe, report and interpret China based on their stereotyped ideology. And when China's status quo conflicts with their predefined stereotypes, instead of changing their minds, they simply tailor or distort the facts, thus portraying a wrong image of China to the Canadian public. They have bred a fake public opinion in Canada by distorted reports and horrific supposition, forging a mirage of fear of China and resistance to cooperation with China.

Here, I'd like to tell the Canadian friends that this is untrue. If China is just so bad as what it is described by the media, how could China develop and become the world's second largest economy? How could it lift 700 million people out of poverty within three decades? How could more than 130 countries support and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative launched by China? How could so many countries expect China to play a leading role in promoting free trade and fighting climate change?

Against the backdrop of a sluggish recovery of the world economy, setbacks for economic globalization and rising trade protectionism, China and Canada can effectively cope with challenges only if they work arm-in-arm.

We must stick to equality and mutual trust. China is an equal partner of Canada and shall not be regarded as an abnormal nation and given an ideological label. Only with mutual trust can we conduct sincere cooperation.

We must stick to mutual benefit and win-win results. We must abandon the thought of one-sided benefiting and give up the misconception that one side loses just because the other side gains. One shall not hurt other's interests just for his or her own interests. Only with mutual benefit and win-win results can we achieve long-lasting cooperation.

We must have a strategic vision. China is a huge market with a population of over 1.3 billion and a bonanza for Canada. Only with a strategic vision can we find the potential for our bilateral cooperation, determination to cooperate, overcome the disruptions and move forward.

I am full of confidence in the prospects of China-Canada cooperation.

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