Signed Article: Building on a breakthrough year in Canada-China relations

The Globe and Mail on January 12th carried an article on the outlook of Canada-China relations written by the Chinese Ambassador to Canada Luo Zhaohui, the following is the full text of the article.

Building on a breakthrough year in Canada-China relations

Ambassador Luo Zhaohui

As the world enters into the new year, we look back at the past 2014 when the booming China-Canada relations had achieved remarkable progress.  

Last November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his third visit to China. During the visit, the leaders of two countries reached new consensus on further developing bilateral relations and announced a Joint List of Outcomes including 20 cooperation agreements. The two sides agreed to establish an annual Foreign Affairs Ministers Dialogue and an annual Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue, in order to plan bilateral relations and coordinate cooperation in different areas. The two sides made a breakthrough in cooperation in areas of finance, economy and trade, investment, civil nuclear energy and people-to-people exchanges. In particular, the agreement on establishing the first North America's Renminbi clearing center in Toronto and the ratification of FIPA play an important role in deepening bilateral cooperation in trade and investment. Moreover, both sides agreed to establish Track II dialogue mechanisms to study new approaches to enhance bilateral economic and trade relations, including signing a free trade agreement and building an environmentally-safe maritime energy corridor, in an effort to tap our economic and trade cooperation potentials. This will not only serve to form a long-term strategic plan for sustainable development of China-Canada bilateral relations, but also conform to the two major trends in today's Asia-Pacific region-the development of free trade and connectivity.   

Developing China-Canada relations is like sailing against currents. You either advance or recede. Despite some disputes and differences, China-Canada relations in 2014 achieved remarkable progress. It should be credited to the leaders of our two countries who showed great insight and attached importance to bilateral relations. We should also thank the two peoples from all sectors including business communities who gave their warm expectations and rigorous support. Following the will of the people and the global trend of cooperation, we can focus on cooperation by taking a comprehensive and overarching perspective while properly managing differences.

Looking forward, 2015 is a year full of expectation of greater prosperity in China-Canada relations. As two major economies in the Asia-Pacific region, China-Canada cooperation is faced with a promising future of opportunities. In pursuit of the Chinese Dream, China continues to deepen reform and opening-up in a more comprehensive manner at a higher level. The moderately fast growth of China's economy at "new normal" will offer even broader space for closer China-Canada bilateral cooperation. And as Canada gives more importance to cooperation with Asian countries by implementing a trade and investment diversification strategy, the bilateral cooperation between our countries will have stronger dynamic for further growth.

2015 marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the 10th anniversary of strategic partnership between China and Canada. In this extraordinary year, I am confident that we will be fully able to translate our great opportunities and prospects of cooperation into realty with our joint efforts and the enabling conditions.

First, the two sides should implement the Joint List of Outcomes and consensus reached by leaders of our countries in a comprehensive manner. The Chinese Embassy and relevant Canadian federal departments have established a joint task force to coordinate our efforts, particularly, to accelerate research on FTA and maritime energy corridor and deepen cooperation in finance and direct flights. The implementation of these agreements is in itself a concrete effort to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and to make preparations for the high-level exchanges in the future.

Second, expand bilateral trade by further enhancing trade of energy and resources. China is now the second largest trading partner, the second largest source of import and second largest export market of Canada. However, China-Canada bilateral trade only accounts for a small part of the total foreign trade of China and Canada respectively, which is largely disproportionate with our national status and population. According to the recent statistics published by China Customs, China-Canada trade volume only accounts for 1.3% of China's total trade volume during the first 11 months of 2014. Meanwhile, according to Statistics Canada, exports to China comprises 3.7% of Canada's total exports while imports from China 11.2% of Canada's total imports. Both are far behind the numbers between Canada and its largest trading partner-US, which are 77% and 54.4% respectively. As a matter of fact, with the largest population in the world of 1.3 billion, China has a huge market and great potential of demand for not only energy and resources, but also agricultural, high-tech and service products from Canada. China has invested 54 billion US dollars in Canada, 90% of which goes to the energy sector. However, our energy trade only accounts for 1% of the bilateral trade, implying plenty room for growth. The two countries should work jointly to take potential opportunities and make breakthrough in energy and resources trade to ensure further growth of bilateral trade in a balanced and healthy way.

Third, facilitate cooperation on major projects in order to add more value to bilateral cooperation. China and Canada have a history of successful cooperation in mega projects. The introduction of CANDU nuclear reactor to Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant has promoted the Canadian export of machinery equipment and technology to China and made China-Canada cooperation lead the way among cooperation between China and western countries at the time.  Three years ago, the acquisition of NEXEN Canada by CNOOC deepened the pragmatic cooperation between the two countries, and made Canada China's second largest oversea investment destination. This being said, in recent years, the bilateral economic cooperation has been calling for major projects. Both Asia-Pacific and Chinese market have huge demands for LNG. Starting LNG trade and cooperation will enable China and Canada further enhance cooperation in a raft of related areas, such as shipping, ship-building, port development and maritime environmental protection. China has accumulated rich experience in infrastructure construction, particularly in high-speed railway, and is enhancing international cooperation through pushing forward Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road. LNG and high-speed railway should be priorities on our plan for major projects cooperation.

Fourth, strengthen anti-graft law enforcement cooperation and jointly combat corruption. Corruption is the common enemy of international community. China has launched an unprecedented anti-graft campaign to fulfill social fairness and justice. During the visit to China, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that Canada has no intention to harboring fugitives, and is willing to collaborate with China in their repatriation. In fact, the two sides have conducted consistent and fruitful cooperation in this regard. China expressed its appreciation. Currently, the two sides have successfully concluded negotiations on return and share of recovered illegal property, laying a more solid legal foundation for cooperation in law enforcement. Moreover, we are looking forward to purifying the environment for bilateral economic cooperation and people to people exchanges by cracking down on fugitives and corrupt officials.

China and Canada differ in political systems and development stages. We are confident that by addressing the differences with wisdom and long-term perspective, we will fully be able to make cooperation the main theme of our bilateral relations.