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Transcript of Chinese Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye's Group Interview with Canadian Media in Halifax
2017/11/10

On November 7, 2017, Ambassador Lu Shaye travelled to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, during which he held the first regular working dialogue between the Chinese Embassy in Canada and Nova Scotia with Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia. After that, Ambassador Lu Shaye accepted a group interview from Canadian media including CTV, CBC, the Canadian Press, Global News, allNovoScotia, The Chronicle Herald and others. Ambassador Lu briefed the journalists on the significance and achievements of the first regular working dialogue between the Chinese Embassy in Canada and Nova Scotia and answered journalists’ questions on topics such as China’s investment in Canada and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).The transcript of the interview is as follows:

Lu Shaye: I am glad to meet you all. The main purpose of my visit to Halifax this time is to hold the first meeting of the regular working dialogue mechanism between the Chinese Embassy in Canada and the government of Nova Scotia. Last April, Nova Scotia released its China Engagement Strategy which is the first strategy among Canadian provinces and territories to boost ties with China. Last September, the Chinese Embassy and the government of Nova Scotia signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing a Regular Working Dialogue Mechanism. My visit this time is to implement this agreement and hold a dialogue with the government of Nova Scotia.

I just had a two-hour meeting with Premier Stephen McNeil and several ministers of the government of Nova Scotia, during which we conducted in-depth exchanges on a wide range of topics and achieved good results. Through the talks, I have gained a better understanding of the importance of the cooperation between China and Nova Scotia and of the broad prospects for cooperation between the two sides.

Now, I am happy to answer your questions.

Journalist: Can you talk about the achievements that you have reached in your meeting today?

Lu Shaye: during the meeting, both sides exchanged views on cooperation in fields like energy, forestry, agriculture, education, culture and tourism, etc. I have gained understanding that Nova Scotia has a great demand in attracting investment from China, and possesses technological advantages in offshore oil and clean energy, as well as in the export of agricultural products and seafood.

I told Premier Stephen McNeil a story: once, a Chinese E-commerce company sold 140,000 Canadian lobsters to Chinese consumers within just 24 hours. Premier Stephen McNeil told me in return that 95% of the Canadian lobsters sold to China come from Nova Scotia. The wine of Nova Scotia is renowned as well, yet currently Chinese consumers do not know much about it.

The education cooperation between China and Nova Scotia is quite impressive, with about 5,000 Chinese students studying in Nova Scotia universities, accounting for 30 to 40 per cent of the total number of international students here. We can also see that tourism cooperation is of great importance. Premier Stephen McNeil said that he hopes China can open up direct flights to Halifax and I told him that I will actively promote this process.

I will also promote Chinese enterprises to invest in Nova Scotia in an active manner. Chinese enterprises will be willing to invest in areas where you have demand. It is also hoped that Nova Scotia will provide a favorable investment environment for Chinese enterprises to invest in Canada.

I have already invited Nova Scotia to organize some enterprises to participate in the China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in November next year. This will be the first time for China to host such an exhibition. On this occasion, China is not trying to sell its own products, but to enable other countries to promote their products in China.

I also proposed to Premier Stephen McNeil that Chinese Embassy in Canada will offer 5 Chinese government scholarships each year for students from Nova Scotia. Though many Chinese students are furthering their study in Nova Scotia, the number of students from Nova Scotia studying in China is still limited. It is hoped that this proposal will promote more bilateral exchanges.

Journalist: As you know, there is a Chinese state company that is looking to take over and purchase Aecon Construction Company. Do you think Canada has the justification to block the Aecon deal on national security grounds?

Lu Shaye: I am aware that the acquisition of Aecon by China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has aroused some discussion in the Canadian media. This is normal, which indicates that the public cares about China’s investment to Canada. As for whether there is a need for national security review on the acquisition, I think it’s up to the Canadian government to decide. Personally speaking, this acquisition is a common commercial transaction and is merely a case of acquisition between two construction companies. The construction technology of China is far more advanced than that of Canada, so there is no need for the Chinese side to “steal” technologies from Canada as some Canadian media speculated. Meanwhile, this acquisition involves no military technology at all, so I cannot see there’s any need for a security scrutiny. Of course, we will never interfere in the internal affairs of Canada. We will respect whatever decision made by the Canadian government.

We hope that the economic and trade cooperation between China and Canada can enjoy a normally favorable environment, which will be beneficial for both sides. In fact, many cases of Chinese enterprises’ acquisition of Canadian enterprises have proved that it is the fund from China that helps Canadian enterprises to solve their problems. To some extent, Canada benefits more from such cases. Of course, we hope to further promote the win-win cooperation between China and Canada.

Journalist: If Canada does block the deal, what implications would that have for potential free trade talks between the two countries?

Lu Shaye: I don’t think there will be any impact, because those are two totally different things. On the contrary, if Canada-China Free Trade Agreement is reached, positive impact will be exerted on the two-way trade and investment between China and Canada.

Journalist: Ambassador, how well known is the Nova Scotia brand in China?

Lu Shaye: The first impression of Nova Scotia on Chinese people is lobster. However, Chinese people still have little knowledge about many other good things in Nova Scotia. In this case, we need to enhance publicity and the media can play an important role in this regard. We not only hope Canadian media to introduce all aspects of Nova Scotia to Chinese people but also want you to promote China to the local citizens of Nova Scotia in a positive and objective manner in order to let them know about the real situation in China. I hope that in the near future, Nova Scotia will, like British Columbia and Ontario, take up a high position in the minds of Chinese people.

Journalist: Has the perception of Nova Scotia changed in any way in the past 18 months since the document came through refers to China? Does the perception change at all?

Lu Shaye: The change is that Chinese side has known more about Nova Scotia. Premier Stephen McNeil has paid visits to China almost annually in the last several years, conducting extensive exchanges with different provinces of China and introducing Nova Scotia to them. Chinese people have become more aware that Nova Scotia is an important province for economy and a gateway for foreign exchange in east coast of Canada. Those Chinese provinces have shown more interest in cooperating with Nova Scotia.

Journalist: In Nova Scotia, we often talk about the things that China can bring to Nova Scotia, the students they come, hopefully they stay, and there also were talks about exporting goods. What the benefit to China in this relationship?

Lu Shaye: Nova Scotia has indeed benefited a lot from its cooperation with China, especially the cooperation in student exchange. According to Canadian statistics, each Chinese overseas student, on average, spends 30 thousand Canadian dollars per year while studying in Canada. The consumption by Chinese overseas students is not only individual consumption, but it also includes related tourist consumption, such as the spending of the students’ relatives and friends who come to Canada to visit them. In addition, as they know more about Nova Scotia, they will recommend it to more people as a tourist destination, which will bring considerable economic benefits.

As for benefits that China gained, we should view this issue from both macro and micro levels. At the micro level, China will gain economic benefits from the two-way trade and investment with Nova Scotia and more Chinese products will be exported to Nova Scotia. Chinese investors can seek more investment opportunities in Nova Scotia, particularly opportunities for investing in sectors like natural resources, agricultural products and marine products, despite the fact that Nova Scotia has a population of no more than 1 million people and the market there is not big. Chinese investors can pursue their own profits in Nova Scotia, and in turn they will serve as the driving forces of the economic growth, employment growth and taxation increase of Nova Scotia.

At the macro level, China pursues a policy of opening up to the outside world. The more friends China makes around the world, the better it becomes. China views Canada as an important partner for cooperation. Cooperation between China and Nova Scotia will promote the cooperation between the two countries, which constitutes the reason why China attaches so much importance to the cooperation with Nova Scotia.

Journalist: What China hopes to learn about President Trump’s view on global trade through the current NAFTA talks? Are you worrying anything for what’s happening in North America?

Lu Shaye: We attach great importance to the renegotiation of NAFTA among Canada, Mexico and the US, and we hope it will achieve positive results. For the three countries, a multilateral trade agreement will regulate their economic and trade relations effectively.

No matter what kind of trade policy the US government adopts, China will firmly support multilateral free trade all the time. China shares many common ideas with Canada on pursuing multilateralism, promoting free trade and actively boosting economic globalization, and it is hoped that China and Canada can enhance communication, coordination and cooperation in relevant international affairs.

At the same time, we also emphasize the importance of developing economic and trade relations with the US. We hope that the relations among all countries in the world, especially the economic and trade relations, are mutually beneficial and with win-win results. During the just-concluded 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPC puts forward that the major-country policy of China with Chinese characteristics in a new era should focus on promoting the building of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation and of a community with shared future for mankind. We will develop friendly cooperative relations with all countries in the world based on this concept and we will not shrink back because of the rising tones of protectionism in the world.

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