Canada, China face sim­i­lar chal­lenges

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS NORTH AMERICA - By WANG RU in Beijing wan­gru@chi­nadaily.com.cn

With ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences such as the size of their pop­u­la­tions, type of gov­ern­ments and economies aside, Canada and China share sim­i­lar­i­ties in sus­tain­ing pros­per­ity and deal­ing with de­vel­op­ment risks.

At a re­cent ses­sion of Talk­ing Eco­nomics, a se­ries of eco­nomic talks hosted by the Cana­dian em­bassy in Beijing aimed at pro­mot­ing eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries, Meric Gertler, a Cana­dian scholar and pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of Toronto, raised a ques­tion for both Canada and China: Where will our fu­ture pros­per­ity come from?

Chi­nese econ­o­mists and schol­ars joined the dis­cus­sion, and Cana­dian Am­bas­sador to China Guy Saint-Jac­ques also at­tended.

Gerl­ter pointed out that in the past two years Cana­di­ans learned once again how dan­ger­ous it is to rely too heav­ily on a sin­gle source for growth and pros­per­ity. Plung­ing oil prices and a shrink­ing auto mar­ket have af­fected the re­cov­ery of Canada’s econ­omy.

“Cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions alone will not re­vive the Cana­dian au­to­mo­tive sec­tor,” said Gerl­ter. “China might be ask­ing a sim­i­lar ques­tion, though here many of the ma­jor in­di­ca­tors have a dif­fer­ent tenor,” he said, adding that China’s econ­omy led by ur­ban­iza­tion is buf­feted from some se­ri­ous prob­lems.

Gertler has served as an ad­viser to lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional gov­ern­ments in Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as to in­ter­na­tional agen­cies such as the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment and the Euro­pean Union.

One of the great driv­ers of China’s be­com­ing the world’s sec­ond-largest econ­omy has been un­prece­dented ur­ban­iza­tion. Three decades ago, 80 per­cent of China’s pop­u­la­tion was ru­ral. To­day, 600-plus cities are home to nearly 54 per­cent of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion.

But with China’s eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion have come prob­lems, pol­lu­tion.

Gertler said China has not tapped the huge po­ten­tial of ur­ban­iza­tion, and he sug­gested that cities in China could learn from Toronto’s suc­cess in build­ing fi­nan­cial and bio­med­i­cal in­dus­tries.

“Cities are priv­i­leged sites for in­no­va­tion, en­trepreneur­ship, and the flour­ish­ing of ideas and op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Gertler. “The world’s most in­no­va­tive re­gions host ecosys­tems where sci­en­tists, en­trepreneurs, ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists, and in­dus­try lead­ers trans­late re­search into pros­per­ity. Stim­u­lat­ing busi­ness in­vest­ment in R&D is a crit­i­cally im­por­tant el­e­ment of in­no­va­tion pol­icy.”

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He said that Canada and China need to foster more in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion at the univer­sity, in­dus­trial and mu­nic­i­pal lev­els.

Cana­dian Am­bas­sador Saint-Jac­ques said that cities in China and else­where that want to be­come “great global cities” will in­creas­ingly need to en­sure that build­ing blocks are in place for them to be­come hubs of in­no­va­tion and gen­er­a­tors of pros­per­ity. “In­deed, it will be th­ese `smart’ global cities – which foster in­ge­nu­ity and en­trepreneur­ship, and which stim­u­late the de­vel­op­ment of new ideas and prod­ucts – that will ul­ti­mately yield the strong­est op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

WAN­GRU / CHINA DAILY

Cana­dian Am­bas­sador Saint-Jac­ques( right) and Dr Gertler at the eco­nomic con­ver­sa­tion at the Cana­dian Em­bassy in Beijing.

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