Vancouver Convention Centre, 9 May 2016
Honourable Secretary Hu Chunhua,
Honourable Premier Christy Clark,
Honourable Foreign Minister's Parliamentary Secretary Pamela Goldsmith-Jones,
Good morning everyone.
I am pleased and honoured to be invited to address the China (Guangdong)-Canada (British Columbia) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference today. Please allow me to begin by warmly congratulating the successful opening of the conference on behalf of the Chinese Government, the Chinese Embassy in Canada and the Chinese Consulate General in Vancouver.
I welcome once again His Excellency Hu Chunhua, Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, and the entire Guangdong delegation.
The current visit of Secretary Hu Chunhua is another important contact between China and Canada this year. It represents a practical step of the Chinese side to follow through on the consensus of our leaders. I am hopeful and confident that his visit will help promote synergy between our development strategies, deepen our bilateral cooperation on the ground and expand exchanges between Guangdong and British Columbia.
Tomorrow Secretary Hu will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Speaker of the House Geoff Regan, Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion and other senior Canadian government officials in Ottawa. Let us congratulate Secretary Hu Chunhua on his successful Canada visit.
I would also take this opportunity to thank Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. provincial government for the importance and priority they attach to Canada-China and B.C.-Guangdong relations.
Two weeks ago, I travelled to Halifax and attended a ceremony for the launch of Nova Scotia-China Engagement Strategy. This is the first China-specific collaboration scheme formulated and issued by an "Atlantic gateway" province. It is a strong indication of Nova Scotia's commitment to stronger relations with China and a telling evidence of Nova Scotia leadership's confidence in China's economy.
Today I am in Vancouver at Canada's "Pacific gateway" province of British Columbia and addressing the China (Guangdong)-Canada (British Columbia) Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference. I am deeply impressed by Canadians' growing enthusiasm and expectations for closer and stronger Canada-China ties and by the "China craze" that is resurging from coast to coast to coast and at the provincial and federal levels.
The resurging "China craze" is due to a number of factors. Its positive impact is palpable.
One of the reasons, I think, is the fact that China remains committed to deepening its reforms on all fronts and opening still wider to the outside world. China is implementing its 13th five-year plan, which focuses on innovation-driven, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development. China's development attracts worldwide attention and will bring about more opportunities for cooperation with other countries.
Given the growing globalisation and the downward pressure confronting the global economy, more and more countries are willing to pull together to pursue common development.
In addition to the above, I would like to make two more observations from the perspective of our bilateral relations.
First, since the new Liberal government took office, leaders of our two countries have maintained frequent contacts. The growth of China-Canada relations is gathering momentum.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Turkey last November. Shortly after the Liberals' electoral victory, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had a phone conversation with Justin Trudeau. Our leaders have charted the way forward for the growth of China-Canada relations in the new era.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Trudeau attended a reception and photo exhibit in celebration of 45 years of China-Canada diplomatic relations. He also attended a ceremony for naming Chinese giant panda cubs at the Toronto Zoo. On both occasions, Prime Minister delivered warm remarks about our bilateral relations.
China is Canada's second largest trading partner. On 11 November 2014 alone, which was Chinese Singles' Day or the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday, 90,000 live lobsters from Canada were sold to Chinese consumers through the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba
Last year, our two-way visits exceeded 1.2 million. The reciprocal arrangements for ten-year multiple entry visas are in place. The Beijing-Montreal non-stop flight route was launched last year. The Beijing-Calgary direct flight is expected to be inaugurated at a later stage of this year.
We are working with our Canadian colleagues on arrangements for an exchange of visits between our leaders later this year. Canada is considering joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and both sides are considering the start of negotiation of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) at an early date.
The commonalities between our development concepts, the complementarities between our two economies, and the growing people-to-people and cultural exchanges between our two nations make me all the more optimistic and confident of a brighter future of China-Canada relations. As Premier Li Keqiang put it during his meeting with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, "a new 'golden decade' in China-Canada relations is arriving".
Second, province-to-province exchanges and cooperation are part and parcel of the China-Canada relationship. The sister-province ties and partnership between Guangdong and B.C. are just a case in point. The Guangdong-B.C. cooperation has not only brought tangible benefits to the two provinces, but also helped to advance China-Canada relations and enrich the China-Canada strategic partnership.
Since her taking office, Premier Christy Clark has paid four visits to China. In the period from 2009 to 2015, B.C. trade with China grew 116 per cent. British Columbia is the first province of a foreign country to issue RMB-denominated "Dim Sum notes" and "panda bonds".
For several years, B.C. has been a vanguard in promoting Canada-China relations and has helped create climate and environment for Canada's resurging "China craze".
I am pleased that the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Guangdong and B.C. highlights both sides' willingness to mutually support and participate in China's Belt and Road Initiative and the B.C. Pacific Gateway Strategy. This marks the first step towards the extension of the Belt and Road routes to North America and represents a new bright spot in cooperation between the two sister-provinces and between China and Canada.
As a Chinese saying goes, "even mountains and seas cannot distance people with common aspirations." The "China craze" is a blessing for both countries and peoples.
While some Western media are bad-mouthing China's economy or hyping up China's so-called "threat", the growing "China craze" in B.C. and the rest of Canada is particularly encouraging and precious.
Canada was once a frontrunner in developing ties with China among Western countries. B.C. has long been a frontrunner in developing relations with China among Canadian provinces and territories. It is my sincere hope that China and Canada will join hands to ensure that the "China craze" will gather momentum and stay for long.
If we work hard and closely together, the vast Pacific Ocean will become a mere strip of water and will bring our two countries and peoples closer, and our bonds of friendship stronger. Together we will usher in a new "golden decade" for China-Canada relations.