The Trudeau government’s exquisitely choreographed trade overture to Beijing is timely, necessary and overdue. If only the second linchpin in the strategy, new pipeline capacity to make Canada’s most important export accessible to Pacific markets, weren’t going so completely off the rails.
The debacle in Montreal — National Energy Board hearings into the Energy East pipeline proposal were suspended Tuesday because of violent protests — bodes ill for this and other resource projects. There may yet be a way through, but that’s difficult to see, absent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepping off the fence on which he has been carefully perched and making the case for a national pipeline.
The diplomacy on display in Beijing this week is almost too perfect for words. The Chinese have backed off, for the time being, on canola. Canada will seek membership in the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
New Canadian visa offices are to open in Chinese cities, easing travel to Canada for China’s legions of newly prosperous tourists. Canadian firms have signed deals with Chinese companies worth a collective $1.2 billion, it was announced Thursday.
Supporting all this, leading with chin and grin, is the PM, doing that thing he does; winning over foreign leaders, journalists and ordinary citizens with friendliness and flair. It’s all reminiscent of the Team Canada visits to China of the 1990s, minus the Team Canada branding, and with the added lustre of Trudeau and his name, still appreciated in China because of Pierre Elliott’s diplomatic overtures to Beijing in the early 1970s.
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