Ot­tawa mayor look­ing for ex­panded links with China

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By AMYHE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Ot­tawa’s mayor wel­comed the visit of Premier Li Ke­qiang, say­ing it was a good op­por­tu­nity to ex­change ideas and strengthen ties be­tween Canada and China.

“I think any­time there are these kinds of ex­changes, they’re pos­i­tive,” said Jim Wat­son, who has been mayor of the Cana­dian cap­i­tal since 2010. “The more we can have di­a­logue, talk­ing about chal­lenges and some of the frus­tra­tions of the re­la­tion­ship, some of the pos­i­tive things about the re­la­tion­ship, it’s a good thing.”

Ot­tawa has had a sis­ter­city re­la­tion­ship with Bei­jing since 1999. The link was ex­tended in 2013 when Wat­son signed the Ex­change and Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment with Bei­jing to fur­ther strengthen ties in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, trade, in­vest­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and tourism.

Canada’s fourth-largest city has about 16,000 Chi­nese res­i­dents among its pop­u­la­tion of 884,000.

“We look for­ward to Bei­jing and China par­tic­i­pat­ing in our 2017 cel­e­bra­tion as Canada cel­e­brates its 150th birth­day next year in Ot­tawa,” he said. “We’ve in­vited the mayor of Bei­jing to come to Ot­tawa in 2017. We hope to be able to fi­nal­ize that ar­range­ment be­cause we think it’s im­por­tant to strengthen the ties be­tween our two cities.”

Like other Cana­dian cities, Ot­tawa has at­tracted Chi­nese in­vestors. Wat­son led a trade del­e­ga­tion to China at the end of 2015, and five ma­jor agree­ments were signed with Bei­jing Mayor Wang An­shun.

The city has been pro­mot­ing it­self as a tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion hub. Chi­nese in­vestors have shown in­ter­est in com­pa­nies in­volved in the wire­less and other com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­tries, and med­i­cal de­vices, ac­cord­ing to In­vest Ot­tawa, the city’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pro­gram.

Out­reach ef­forts have re­sulted in 120 lo­cal high­tech com­pa­nies form­ing bi­lat­eral trade, in­vest­ment and part­ner­ship ties with Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

“I think the re­la­tions are very pos­i­tive. The prime min­is­ter’s visit to China was a suc­cess­ful visit — (with) a lot of deals signed that will ben­e­fit both coun­tries— and here in Ot­tawa, we have a very strong re­la­tion­ship with the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” Wat­son said.

He also noted that Canada’s re­la­tion­ship with China is long-run­ning: for­mer prime min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau, fa­ther of cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties with China in 1970.

“As you know, our coun­try, through (for­mer) prime min­is­ter Pier­reTrudeau, ini­ti­ated diplo­matic re­la­tions even be­fore the Amer­i­cans and a num­ber of other coun­tries,” Wat­son said. “So we have ties, whether it’s Dr Nor­man Bethune, or our sis­ter city agree­ment, or the Trudeau re­la­tion­ship, that’s a pos­i­tive thing.”

Bethune was a Cana­dian physi­cian who served as a doc­tor for the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist guer­rilla army. He be­came fa­mous for un­selfish ef­forts to im­prove the health of vil­lagers. Bethune died in China in 1939.

The more we can have di­a­logue, talk­ing about chal­lenges ... and some of the pos­i­tive things about the re­la­tion­ship, it’s a good thing.” Jim Wat­son, mayor of Ot­tawa, Canada

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