At a joint press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, the two leaders said they aim to double trade by 2025 and had resolved longstanding issues of access for Canadian beef and canola to China, while several companies signed commercial deals. They also announced talks aimed at an eventual free trade agreement.
Both leaders also addressed the rockier issues with the relationship, including China’s human rights record – it is one of a few countries that employs the death penalty – and domestic opposition to a proposed extradition treaty.
“I look forward to continuing the discussions on challenging issues, but also on all the opportunities that we know there are to create benefits for citizens of both our countries,” Trudeau said.
HSBC Canada chief economist David Watt said China has been looking to create closer ties with the West as it undergoes a massive reform process, however there had been some reluctance from Canada due to the challenges of adapting to the rapidly changing Chinese market.
“I don’t want to say this is a thaw. I would just say we’re going to explore the one missing element of our relationship with China, which is potential free trade,” said Watt.
“It’s not necessarily going to be easy. We also have some degree of uncertainty in Canada over what sort of a relationship we want to have with China.”
China is Canada’s third largest trade partner, behind the U.S. and the EU. Economic activity between the two countries grew at a year-over-year increase of more than 10 per cent in 2015, reaching $85.8 billion in two-way merchandise trade.
“We need to recognize that our common interests far outweigh our differences,” Li said.
Watt says that for Canada’s heavily resource-based economy, there are clear benefits to trade deals with a country that is likely going to be a key driver of commodity prices for the next 30 years.
“If you’re a commodity exporter you probably want to have some idea what’s happening in China so you can take advantage of opportunities that are going to arise,” he said.
We also have some degree of uncertainty in Canada over what sort of a relationship we want to have with China
Watt says that China stands to benefit not only from access to Canada’s natural resources, but its financial sector knowledge and technical expertise.
Following Trudeau’s recent first official visit to China in August where more than 60 commercial deals were signed, the Prime Minister announced four business deals including a joint venture between SNC-Lavalin Inc., China National Nuclear Corp and Shanghai Electric Group Co Ltd. to develop, market and build new nuclear reactors.
The president of SNC-Lavalin’s power devision, Sandy Taylor, says implementing its technology to recycle fuel from China’s 33 light-water reactors not only gives it access to the local market, but also provides opportunities to collaborate on Chinese-led nuclear projects around the world.
“We have a very unique design that we’ve commercialized here and built and proven which is complementary to the direction of what the Chinese are doing,” said Taylor.
Sinoenergy Corp Ltd. also signed a deal to invest $500 million over two years in Long Run Exploration Ltd., an Alberta oil and gas company, while Iovate Health Sciences International Inc. and Xiwang Food Stuffs Co Ltd. signed a share purchase agreement worth $962 million.
In the financial sector, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China signed an agreement to collaborate on addressing the challenges of China’s aging population, including pension reform and investment in the domestic senior care industry from global investors.
Air Canada also says it will make an announcement Friday concerning air service to China.
Canada is currently in negotiations for free-trade agreements through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Canada and European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. However, with roadblocks to ratification to both the Atlantic and Pacific agreements, working more closely with China could be a better shot for Canada getting a better deal on its own terms.
“This bilateral trade deal with China could offer the chance for Canada to negotiate based on its own economic interests,” said Domenico Lombardi, Director of the Global Economy Program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
On Thursday Trudeau announced that Canada had secured access for its canola to the Chinese market through 2020, settling a dispute that previously threatened to halt exports. China had been poised to toughen restrictions on imports of canola seed from Canada, which were valued last year at $2 billion.
Canada’s canola growers have become increasingly reliant on export sales to China and the Asian country now accounts for 40 per cent of all canola-seed shipments.
With files from Bloomberg
China Legal Scholar Says “No Independence for Hong Kong in Next 1,000 Years” — Discussing independence for Hong Kong is committing “treason” and “sedition” — He Wows Asia-Pacific Law Association in Hong Kong
By ROBERT FIFE – OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Sep. 22, 2016 9:59AM EDT
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang publicly defended the death penalty as he pressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign a formal extradition treaty while denying agents are covertly dispatched to Canada to intimidate Chinese fugitives to return home.
Mr. Li, the first Chinese leader to visit Canada in six years, is on a mission to forge closer ties. That included announcements to start exploratory talks on free trade, the settling of a canola dispute and pledges to double trade by 2025.
But China’s No. 2 leader was adamant that high on his bilateral agenda is an extradition treaty to seek the return of fugitives accused of economic crimes. More than 40 other countries, including France and Australia, have signed such treaties, he said.
During a joint news conference on Thursday, the Premier took a swipe at Canadian critics of an extradition treaty, saying they are wrongly disparaging China’s justice system as being based on torture, repression and coercion.
“There shall be no torture including suspects and sentenced people, humanitarian treatment must be applied. This is provided by Chinese law and the judicial and law authorities follow this role very strictly,” he told reporters as Mr. Trudeau stood by his side in the foyer of the House of Commons.
Mr. Li said he can’t “promise 100 per cent” that the odd police officer could mistreat an accused, but said anyone caught doing that would be treated “very seriously.” At the same time, he argued that China’s death penalty is needed to deal with violent crime.
“If we abolish the death penalty, innocent people will lose their lives,” he said.
Amnesty International says China is the world’s top executioner while the United Nations says China routinely uses torture, and its judges, prosecutors and the police answer to the Communist Party.
“We stand by our assessment that there are a vast array of very serious human-rights concerns,” Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada’s secretary-general, said in an interview. “Torture is widespread and rampant throughout the country and backed up by near total impunity.”
China’s human-rights record has taken on added significance since The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that Ottawa had opened up formal talks on an extradition treaty on Sept 12, one day before a Chinese court ordered jailed Canadian missionary Kevin Garratt back to Canada.
Critics interpret Mr. Garratt’s release as a quid pro quo for Canada acceding to China’s long-standing call for an extradition treaty. The lack of action on such a treaty over the past decade led China to send agents to Canada on tourist visas in an attempt to induce expatriates to return home to face justice.
The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and RCMP are investigating the covert Chinese spy operation. CSIS has interviewed Chinese citizens living in Canada, all of whom have been threatened by agents from China.
“I don’t know where you got those reports,” Mr. Li said when asked about The Globe report. “I can tell you firmly that China … strictly follows international law and norms and we obey the laws of other countries.”
The Prime Minister said Canada would not deport anyone who would face execution but argued he was confident a formal extradition treaty could be worked out.
“We recognize that Canada and China have different systems of law and order and different approaches and it’ll be very important that any future agreement be based on reflecting the realities, the principles, the values that our citizens hold dear in each of our countries,” Mr. Trudeau said.
As part of the talks, both leaders approved a feasibility study on free trade with the goal of doubling bilateral trade by 2025. They also reached a four-year deal to allow for the continued exports of Canadian canola, worth $2-billion annually to Canadian farmers, and Mr. Li lifted China’s ban on imports of bone-in beef from Canadian cattle younger than 30 months of age.
In the House of Commons Question Period, NDP Leader Tom Muclair deplored the move to conclude an extradition treaty, calling China a “dictatorship that abuses human rights.”
Conservative Foreign Affairs critic Peter Kent accused the Prime Minister of being naive if he thinks China wouldn’t apply the death penalty to Chinese fugitives. “Canada has no control over what happens in Chinese prisons. The Chinese have many ways of killing people,” he said.
The Prime Minister told the House the new dialogue with China allows Canada to raise serious issues with Chinese leaders including consular cases and provides “huge opportunities for Canadian businesses.”
Mr. Trudeau has gone out of his way to welcome Mr. Li to the capital. When Mr. Li and his wife arrived Wednesday night, they were invited to the prime ministerial retreat at Harrington Lake. A photo released by the PMO showed the leaders overlooking the lake with glasses of beer.
A dinner was held for Mr. Li at the History Museum Thursday night. On Friday, Mr. Trudeau accompanies the Premier to Montreal where they will speak to the Canada-China Business Forum.
Tags: Asian infrastructure investment bank, Canada, Canada and China deepening economic ties, Canada getting a better deal on its own terms, Canada’s natural resources, canola seed, China, China's legal system, China’s human rights record, European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, free-trade agreement, human rights, Justin Trudeau, Li Keqiang, Long Run Exploration, nuclear projects, oil and gas, torture, trade deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership