A time to nur­ture co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily (USA) - - LI’S VISIT - The au­thor is China’s pre­mier.

Edi­tor’s note: The Globe and Mail pub­lished an ar­ti­cle by Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang on Wed­nes­day. The full text of the ar­ti­cle is as fol­lows.

Iam de­lighted to be com­ing to Canada, the beau­ti­ful land of maples. Ear­lier this month, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau made a visit to China, dur­ing which the two sides reached ex­ten­sive com­mon un­der­stand­ing on the devel­op­ment of China-Canada re­la­tions. My visit to Canada at a short in­ter­val of three weeks is to in­au­gu­rate the new an­nual di­a­logue be­tween our heads of gov­ern­ment and fur­ther pro­mote mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co­op­er­a­tion be­tween our coun­tries to se­cure fresh progress for the China-Canada strate­gic part­ner­ship.

As an an­cient poem goes, dis­tance can­not di­vide true friends who feel close even when thou­sands of miles apart. Though sep­a­rated by the vast Pa­cific Ocean, our two peo­ples en­joy a deep bond of amity and good­will. As early as the lat­ter half of the 19th cen­tury, tens of thou­sands of Chi­nese work­ers came to Canada to help build the Canadian Pa­cific Rail­way, which linked up the coun­try’s east and west and con­trib­uted to Canada’s eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment.

In the 1930s, Nor­man Bethune, a Canadian doc­tor, de­voted him­self to the Chi­nese peo­ple’s strug­gle against Ja­panese ag­gres­sion and made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. In the 1970s, de­fy­ing all odds, the older gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese and Canadian lead­ers made the bold and vi­sion­ary de­ci­sion to open the door of re­la­tions be­tween our coun­tries, mak­ing Canada one of the first Western coun­tries to es­tab­lish diplo­matic ties with New China. All these episodes re­main fresh in the mem­ory of many Chi­nese and Cana­di­ans.

Re­cent years have seen more such hand­shakes across the Pa­cific. We de­cided to set up an an­nual di­a­logue be­tween the Pre­mier of China and the Prime Min­is­ter of Canada, which will make pol­icy com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween us more timely and ef­fec­tive. China is Canada’s sec­ond largest trad­ing part­ner. Buck­ing the trend of steep de­cline in global trade, China-Canada trade con­tin­ued to rise last year. Two-way in­vest­ment has been boom­ing, ev­i­denced by a 126% in­crease in the in­vest­ment by Chi­nese com­pa­nies in Canada last year. Our peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes are also grow­ing. Each week 90 or so flights criss­cross be­tween us, mak­ing pos­si­ble more than 1.3 mil­lion vis­its be­tween us last year.

China will work with Canada to en­rich our strate­gic part­ner­ship and tap the po­ten­tial of prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion to bring more ben­e­fits to the Chi­nese and Canadian peo­ples.

China-Canada re­la­tions en­joy a solid foun­da­tion and bright prospects. There are nei­ther past griev­ances nor fore­see­able ma­jor con­flicts of in­ter­ests be­tween us. Our economies, which are at dif­fer­ent stages of devel­op­ment, are highly com­ple­men­tary, mak­ing us nat­u­ral part­ners of co­op­er­a­tion. We both up­hold mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and cul­tural di­ver­sity, and are ac­tive play­ers and con­trib­u­tors in the in­ter­na­tional sys­tem.

In the con­text of the slug­gish world eco­nomic re­cov­ery, our coun­tries face greater chal­lenges in eco­nomic devel­op­ment and busi­ness co­op­er­a­tion, yet our con­verg­ing in­ter­ests and mu­tual need have also grown stronger. It re­mains in the fun­da­men­tal in­ter­ests of both coun­tries to ex­pand multi-di­men­sional and high-qual­ity co­op­er­a­tion.

Mu­tual trust is the cor­ner­stone of friendly re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Canada. We ap­pre­ci­ate the pro-ac­tive ap­proach taken by the new Canadian gov­ern­ment to­ward de­vel­op­ing re­la­tions with China. We are ready to work with Canada to cul­ti­vate a healthy, sta­ble and fu­ture-ori­ented strate­gic part­ner­ship in the spirit of mu­tual re­spect, equal­ity and win­win co­op­er­a­tion. We will step up com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion with Canada at the UN, G20, APEC and other fora to send a pos­i­tive sig­nal of China and Canada work­ing to­gether to pro­mote world peace and sta­bil­ity, and con­trib­ute our share to the re­cov­ery of the world econ­omy. The two sides should re­spect each other’s con­cerns on is­sues of vi­tal in­ter­ests and the right to in­de­pen­dently choose the path of devel­op­ment and over­come dis­trac­tions to make sure that the ship of China-Canada re­la­tions pow­ers ahead on the right course.

Eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and trade are the driv­ing forces of China-Canada re­la­tions. Cur­rently, China-Canada trade only ac­counts for 1.4% of China’s to­tal for­eign trade and 8.1% of that of Canada. Canadian in­vest­ment in China takes up less than 1% of all for­eign in­vest­ment in China, and Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Canada is a mere 2.7% of to­tal for­eign in­vest­ment in Canada. This spells out a tremen­dous po­ten­tial to de­velop our trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion.

China is will­ing to open its mar­kets wider and fur­ther in­crease im­ports of high-qual­ity agri­cul­tural and high-tech prod­ucts from Canada. We hope the fea­si­bil­ity study on a China-Canada free trade area can be launched ex­pe­di­tiously to lay the in­sti­tu­tional foun­da­tion for lib­er­al­ized trade be­tween the two coun­tries. We wel­come Canadian com­pa­nies to make in­vest­ments and do busi­ness in China to share the op­por­tu­ni­ties that come with China’s eco­nomic growth. We en­cour­age com­pe­tent Chi­nese com­pa­nies to in­vest in Canada to help drive the lo­cal econ­omy and cre­ate more jobs. It is hoped that the Canadian side will view eco­nomic re­la­tions and trade with China in an ob­jec­tive and ra­tional way and work to nur­ture a sound pol­icy en­vi­ron­ment and fa­vor­able pub­lic opin­ion for such co­op­er­a­tion.

Peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes are a pow­er­ful cat­a­lyst for China-Canada friendly co­op­er­a­tion. Amity be­tween the peo­ple holds the key to state-to-state re­la­tions. In re­cent years, peo­ple-to-peo­ple and cul­tural ex­changes have in­creased be­tween our coun­tries, deep­en­ing the bond of friend­ship be­tween our peo­ples. Canada has be­come a key des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese tourists and stu­dents, with the num­ber of Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing in Canada reach­ing more than 150,000. Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture are get­ting pop­u­lar with Cana­di­ans and more and more young Cana­di­ans take to Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy and kung fu. Chi­nese TV pro­grams fea­ture well­known Cana­di­ans, and the “Group of Seven” is pop­u­lar with many Chi­nese.

Fol­low­ing the year of cul­tural ex­change 2015-2016, our two coun­tries have ded­i­cated the year 2018 as the year of tourism be­tween China and Canada. We en­cour­age more Chi­nese to visit Canada and wel­come more Canadian friends to come to China and see our coun­try. I will make use of this visit to fur­ther boost China-Canada peo­ple-to-peo­ple and cul­tural ex­change, and en­cour­age ex­changes and co­op­er­a­tion in ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture, tourism, sports, women, youth and lo­cal af­fairs to so­lid­ify pop­u­lar sup­port for China-Canada re­la­tions.

This is the sea­son for the fiery maple in Canada, sym­bol­iz­ing the pros­per­ity of China-Canada all-round co­op­er­a­tion. China will work with Canada to en­rich our strate­gic part­ner­ship and tap the po­ten­tial of prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion to bring more ben­e­fits to the Chi­nese and Canadian peo­ples.

THOMAS PETER / REUTERS

Chi­nese Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang and Canadian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau at­tend a wel­com­ing cer­e­mony at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing, China, Au­gust 31.

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