Canada to boost relations with China
Canada is keen to enhance its economic ties with China and eager to become a new member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), said Canada’s Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland at a media event on July 8, ahead of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Shanghai.
Officially launched in January this year, the AIIB is an international development bank that will channel strategic investments into sectors such as transportation and logistical infrastructure within Asian countries in a bid to strengthen their economies and enhance their capacity to trade with one another.
Canada has had strong bilateral relations with China since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1970. China is currently Canada’s secondlargest trading partner and Chinese form the third-largest tourist group in the country.
Furthermore, the largest population of foreigners entering Canada is Chinese, with more than 20,000 arriving in the country last year. According to statistics from the Canadian government, there are currently over 1.5 million Canadians of Chinese descent living in the country. China is also the source of the largest group of foreign students in Canada. There were about 120,000 Chinese students studying in the country last year.
“What is so wonderful about Canada today is we are unique in the Western industrialized world. We are a country where we have a strong national consensus about embracing the world and being open to immigrants and these fantastic Chinese students,” said Freeland, whose three children study Chinese.
“We are strong not despite of our diversity, but because of our diversity. Our diversity includes all forms of diversity. Canada, as an immigrant country, believes in multiculturalism and celebrating all of the people living in our country and all the places they come from, very much including China.”
Earlier in March, the first renminbi trading hub in the Americas was launched in Toronto and is expected to help Canadian companies save on the costs of doing business with counterparts in Asia.
China and Canada are also in the midst of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) but Freeland was cagey about the topic.
“In order to take a step forward and make the relationship even stronger, it is very important to take the time to build a strong foundation, a strong neutral understanding and even strong human relationships,” said Freeland.
Ahead of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting, Freeland also had a short meeting with investments to create more jobs as well as tackling environmental issues. She also mentioned that Canada’s expertise in certain industries can be of benefit to China.
“We are also resourceful in other areas that have tremendous opportunities for Canada and China to cooperate, such as environment space, government collaboration, financial services and healthcare,” said Freeland.
“I am very pleased that I really see a real focus on Canada from the 13th Five-Year Plan and real exclusive desire from the Chinese government to deepen our relationship, particularly our economic one.”
Freeland also mentioned that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to attend the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in September.
Trudeau, the son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who established relations with China in 1970, had during last year’s G20 summit pledge to strengthen bilateral relations with China.
“I’m looking forward to our prime minister coming to the G20 at the end of the summer and I feel very strongly that the best is yet to come in the relationship between Canadians and Chinese,” said Freeland.
“The important reason why I am so confident we are at the beginning of really golden age of Canada-China relations, particularly in the business space, is because of our prime minister, our new government and the prime minister’s real appreciation of the importance of the relationship between Chinese and Canadians.”
Canada's Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland speaks to the media in Shanghai.