Canada en route to much stronger trade ties with China, envoy says – by Andy Hoffman (Globe and Mail – August 30, 2011)

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…China hopes Canada will permit Chinese companies
to increase the amount of investment in Canadian
resource companies producing minerals, lumber, oil
and gas and other commodities needed to fuel
China’s fast-growing economy.

According to a recent survey by the Asia Pacific
Foundation of Canada, the vast majority of Canadians
continue to oppose Chinese state-owned enterprises
buying major Canadian companies or resource assets.

China’s ambassador to Canada says the Harper government’s about-face regarding his country has strengthened bilateral relations and should foster a major increase in trade and investment.

Ambassador Zhang Junsai says relations between Canada and China are rapidly improving now that Ottawa has recognized the need to diversify its economic and trading focus beyond the United States and Europe. The diplomat also cited Canada’s return of a high-profile Chinese fugitive as a key milestone that will fortify the bond between the two countries.

Mr. Zhang said he expects trade between Canada and China to continue to increase and predicts more Chinese foreign direct investment in Canadian companies and assets as a result of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government’s shift in policy towards the Asian economic superpower.

“After a few years, the [Harper] government has been exposed to international affairs,” Mr. Zhang said in an interview at the Chinese consulate in Vancouver.

“China is playing an increasingly peaceful and constructive role in the world. China has performed very well during the financial crisis and I think all this is seen by the Canadian people that China is making contributions to the world economy,” he said. “More importantly, China has a huge market. There is a great potential for both countries to develop friendly relations.”

Concerns about China’s human-rights record and a pledge not to sell out those values to the “almighty dollar” saw Mr. Harper wait five years from the time he took office before making his first official visit to China in 2009. The Prime Minister was chided during his stay by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao for waiting so long to come to Beijing.

Nonetheless, the trip represented a key change in the relationship that set the stage for recent improvements, according to Mr. Zhang, who was appointed ambassador nine months ago.

“I would say the present state of the relationship is very warm. It is warming up.”

Since winning a majority this spring, the government has ramped up its focus on China, which is now the world’s second-largest economy and Canada’s second-largest trading partner, behind the United States. John Baird travelled to China in July, just weeks after being appointed Foreign Minister, conceding that the world’s largest exporter is “incredibly important” to Canada’s future prosperity.

In the fall, Mr. Harper is expected to travel to China, where he will be under pressure to win an investment-protection agreement that would shield Canadian businesses operating in China from unfair treatment. In return, China hopes Canada will permit Chinese companies to increase the amount of investment in Canadian resource companies producing minerals, lumber, oil and gas and other commodities needed to fuel China’s fast-growing economy.

“Canada’s trade with China is not enough. … In the first seven months of the year we have seen the amount of lumber exported to China from B.C. increase by 80 per cent. That is terrific,” the ambassador said.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-en-route-to-much-stronger-trade-ties-with-china-envoy-says/article2146495/

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