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Transcript of H.E. Lu Shaye, Chinese Ambassador to Canada with the Hill Times of Canada

Chelsea Nash: So you arrived on, what was the date, exactly?

Lu Shaye: I arrived at Ottawa on the last day of February.


Chelsea Nash: What have you been doing since you arrived?

Lu Shaye: I was quite busy for the first month. I have made contact with the Canadian government and some non-governmental figures. It is my first time to work in Canada, so I need to contact with all concerned parties to gradually get familiar with the situation here.


Chelsea Nash: So when you say non-governmental Canadian friends, do you mean universities or who have you been meeting with?

Lu Shaye: Indeed, I have met with some scholars from universities, professionals from enterprises and also some figures from social organizations. Apart from today's interview with you, I have also made contact with other media.


Chelsea Nash: So it's your first time in Canada, what's your first impression, you know, not just as an ambassador but as somebody new to Canada. What do you think?

Lu Shaye: My first impression on Canada is great. Although I came here in winter, I could tell that the environment here is very refreshing, without too much noise. The city is very beautiful. What impresses me most is that it snows a lot here, which is not so common in Beijing. My colleagues told me that Canada boasts splendid scenes in spring, summer and autumn, which arouses my expectation for the following seasons. As I just took up the post, I was occupied with work and did not have the chance to go out for sightseeing. I am thinking of visiting other places outside of the capital in the future.


Chelsea Nash: Did you ever meet your counterpart Mr. John McCallum after you came here?

Lu Shaye: Yes. I gave him a farewell dinner at my residence before he went to China. We had a pleasant conversation in that we share a common wish, which is to continuously promote the development of bilateral relations through our work and efforts.


Chelsea Nash: What do you think of the fact that Canada sent its former Immigration Minister as Ambassador to China, what you can see that signifies?

Lu Shaye: From my point of view, the Canadian government has designated a senior statesman as the Canadian Ambassador to China. Mr. John McCallum has not only served as the Immigration Minister, but also the Defense Minister. He is a senior statesman in the Liberal government, with in-depth understanding of the importance of China-Canada ties and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's friendly foreign policy towards China. Therefore, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a right decision to appoint Mr. John McCallum as the Canadian Ambassador to China.


Chelsea Nash: Do you see it as a complement or an indication of the importance of Canada's relationship with China that there is a former Cabinet minister as the Ambassador?

Lu Shaye: In fact, since Mr. Justin Trudeau assumed office as Prime Minister of Canada, China-Canada relations have undergone new development on the original basis. Last year, the exchange of visits between the two prime ministers ushered in a new "golden era" of bilateral ties. I believe that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hopes that his positive policy toward China could be carried out properly by appointing a senior statesman who shares his political views as the Canadian Ambassador to China.


Chelsea Nash: What are your priorities, what are your mandate here? You might just generally outline the important focus equally in your mandate here?

Lu Shaye:My first priority is to enhance political mutual trust between the two countries and mutual understanding between the two peoples. The top leaders of the two countries have already reached broad consensus on further enhancing friendly cooperation. Our task now is to deliver the consensus to both societies and make it a consensus between both peoples. After coming here, I found that the media has a different opinion on the development of a closer friendship and win-win cooperation with China. Of course advocating a friendship with China is still the mainstream public opinion, but negative voices are sometimes louder. Therefore one of my important tasks is to introduce China to the Canadian people in a proper manner, present them with the benefits of friendly cooperation between the two countries and seek for public support to the cooperation.

The other priority is to promote pragmatic cooperation between China and Canada. It is beneficial for both sides, especially given an unfavorable global economic and trade environment. To enhance cooperation is in line with the interests of the people from both countries. As for the approaches, I think one of the important measures is to facilitate the exploratory discussions of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will create more favorable opportunities for the expansion of bilateral trade. I know the Canadian government is soliciting public opinion on this matter. It is a good move which will better explain the reasons for Canada to negotiate with China for the inking of the FTA.


Chelsea Nash: In seeking this trade deal with Canada, what does China want out of it, and what is China willing to negotiate in terms of the FTA?

Lu Shaye: Despite of their different forms, I think the goals of FTA are the same- to reduce trade barriers, expand trade facilitation and promote the development of bilateral trade. For instance, facilitation of custom formalities is to a great extent influencing the development of bilateral trade between China and Canada. Simple and similar formalities would offer great convenience, and the trade scale and volume would be easily expanded if both countries further simplify their formalities. In addition, the cost would also be largely reduced if the FTA succeeds in lowering tariffs. The detailed requirements in FTA negotiation should be discussed by the negotiation teams of both parties. Being a two-way agreement, the FTA benefits both China and Canada in terms of market entrance and expansion. Canada will reap more profits, as Chinese market is larger.


Chelsea Nash: What specific market is China interested in Canada?

Lu Shaye: There are plenty of them. As far as I know, China has exported a great deal of manufactured goods to Canada, while Canada exported many agricultural and mineral products to China. They are also engaged in the trade of some high-tech products. That suggests that the economy and trade of the two countries are highly complementary. The development of trade will surely lead to the growth of two-way investment. According to statistics from China, more than 14,000 Canadian companies have made investment in China. In recent years, China's investment in Canada has experienced a rapid increase. However, we are still lagged behind with a single investment field compared with that of the Canadian side. The public in Canada are worrying that China's investment might buy out their country, which is totally unnecessary. Take a look at the Canada's statistics, I believe China's investment in the country would only take a very small part of the total foreign investment.


Chelsea Nash: Do you think that Canadian public opinion is going to be one of the biggest challenges in your mandate here, particularly with the FTA?

Lu Shaye: I believe that I will spend considerable efforts to communicate with the media and public, so that they can understand the importance and benefits of the cooperation with China.


Chelsea Nash: What do you think of John McCollum made a recent statement that Canada wants to improve trade with China but also wants to include aspects of human rights in that trade deal? What do you think about it?

Lu Shaye: His position is in line with Canada's mainstream public opinion. I have always thought that too many non-trade and non-economic factors should not be included in FTA negotiations because such issues as democracy and human rights can be discussed in other occasions. To include these factors in business negotiations, I think it is unfair. Just like two people playing cards, if one person gets by fraud some trump cards in his hands, it is unfair for the other side. This is not a fair game. In business negotiations, taking democracy and human rights as bargaining chips, I think, it is the blasphemy against the value of democracy and human rights. If so, people will ask: how much are democracy and human rights worth? Therefore we advocate that we only talk about business in business occasions.


Chelsea Nash: What do you think of the criticisms from the conservative party of Canada that the liberal government is putting Chinese interests over national security? And I think the example was the Chinese take over our Montreal based ITF technologies and the criticism came from the Tony Coment?

Lu Shaye: I prefer not to comment on this issue as it belongs to the domestic affairs of Canada. But I think cooperation should be built upon mutual trust, which means one country should not raise groundless doubts against the other. In addition, I believe that the government of the relevant countries should shoulder responsibility to positively introduce other countries to its people, in a bid to deepen mutual trust with their partner countries. In western countries, including Canada, the governments are not always standing for the people, but they should orient the public opinion as appropriate.


Chelsea Nash: There is also a concern among Canadians, and even former directors of CISAS, Canada's National Security Agency have been critical of the purpose on extradition treaty with China. They say that it's not a smart thing for Canada to engage in. Will this be a challenge for you and your mandate? How will you try to convince the liberal government to stay on courses as far as an extradition treaty is concerned?

Lu Shaye: That's indeed a debated issue in the Canadian society. Signing the extradition treaty will benefit China and confirms to the interest of Canada as well. The treaty will help the two sides strengthen law enforcement cooperation and combat crimes together. For instance, to solve the illegal immigration issue, it's Canada who needs to gain support and cooperation from China, rather than China reaches for Canada. As a law-based government, it is in accordance with the policies of the Canadian government to return Chinese fugitives. China will provide enough evidence as required by the Canadian government. I think law enforcement cooperation should not be declined simply because the two countries have different legal systems. In fact, the discussion of the extradition treaty aims to connecting and coordinating different legal systems.


Chelsea Nash: Questions about yourself and we'll leave the politics for now. You have experienced at different levels of government, I think you were a deputy mayor at one point, you've also been in the foreign service. How does that political and foreign service experience lead yourself to your posting here?

Lu Shaye: I learnt from my working experience at local government that everything in China is not as easy as how foreigners think. To govern such a big country calls for great wisdom and a grasp of its national conditions. Merely copying other countries' approaches will never work. After I came here, I noticed that many Canadian people could not accept that China doesn't follow in Canada's footsteps on numerous issues, which is saying that they have a lack of understanding for the complexity and uniqueness of China's national conditions. For example, they believe China is a country short for democracy, human rights and judicial independence. But if they compare the current China with the old one decades ago, and most of the other countries in the world, they will find it is indeed a great country with adequate democracy and human rights. According to statistics from the United Nations, 60% of Chinese people were living in poverty in the early 1990s. After two decades of development, the figure has dropped to 4% in 2014. We have lifted 700 million people out of poverty and contributed over 70% to global poverty alleviation, which is the largest achievement in terms of human rights in human history.


Chelsea Nash: What plans are you going to do in your spare time in Canada, I know you are very busy right now, but once you settle in?

Lu Shaye: I want to visit each tourist attraction of Canada, especially some important historical and cultural sites in the capital. I would also like to visit other provinces if possible.


Chelsea Nash: You like history?

Lu Shaye: Yes, I like it very much. I'm currently reading books on Canadian history.


Chelsea Nash: My last question is, does the current relationship between the United States and China have any impact on the China's relationship with Canada? I know the relationships right now are a little volatile between the United States and China. I'm wondering if it will put Canada a little more to the forefront for China?

Lu Shaye: Not only China-US relations, but the entire world is faced with uncertainties. However, it is certain that the Chinese government will keep the principles of mutual respect, equal treatment and mutual benefit in the development of relations with other countries. Therefore no matter how China-US relations will develop, China's friendship and win-win cooperation with Canada will never be affected. We also hope the Canadian government and people to be confident in this regard and meet China halfway.

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