Work Together for a Better Future of China-Canada Relations
Address by H.E. Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs
At Luncheon Hosted by Canada China Business Council
Ottawa, 23 June 2009
尊敬的德马雷名誉主席、克鲁伊特主席、哈德会长， 尊敬的克拉克前总理、弗莱厄蒂部长、贝尔德部长， 女士们、先生们、朋友们：
Honorary Chairman Andre Desmarais, Chairman Peter Kruyt, President Peter Harder, Former Prime Minister Right Honorable Joe Clark, The Honorable Minister Flaherty, The Honorable Minister Baird, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
I am delighted to join you at this luncheon. I want to thank the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) for its kind invitation and warm hospitality. It is a real pleasure to meet all of you, friends both old and new. For years, you have worked hard to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples and promote bilateral relations between our two countries. Let me take this opportunity to express sincere thanks for what you have done.
I first visited Canada more than 30 years ago. That was shortly after I joined the foreign service and I came here as a staff member of a Chinese delegation. I was deeply impressed by your warm people, vast land mass and beautiful scenery. Later on, my work brought me here several times. Yet this is my first visit to Canada as the Chinese Foreign Minister and it is nice to be back again. The purpose of my visit is to continue our in-depth discussions on bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest, increase understanding, build consensus, deepen cooperation, and push for continued improvement and growth of our bilateral ties. Yesterday, I had talks with Minister Cannon, and met with the Honorable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate. And this morning, I had separate meetings with the Right Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Honorable Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Liberal Party. The talks and meetings went very well, making my visit a very productive one.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Relations between China and Canada have a long history. More than 100 years ago, Chinese workers came to Canada and made indelible contribution to the building of the Pacific Railway that extends from the east to the west of Canada. During World War II, people of our two countries fought side by side against the fascists. The heroic deeds of Dr. Norman Bethune are remembered by all the Chinese people. His internationalist spirit, his dedication to the service of others, has always been a source of inspiration to the peace-loving people of the world. In the early 1960s, Canada became the first Western country to conduct trade with China, exporting wheat to my country. That was a valuable support to the Chinese people. In 1970, the two countries established diplomatic relations and Canada became one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China, opening a new chapter in China-Canada relations.
In the past 39 years, in spite of some twists and turns, China-Canada relations have, on the whole, moved forward. Thanks to the personal commitment of leaders of several generations and concerted efforts of people from various sectors of both countries, our exchanges and cooperation in all fields have been growing steadily and exchanges at the top and other levels have increased. We have put in place over 40 exchange and cooperation mechanisms that cover a wide range of areas, including economy, trade, justice, law enforcement, energy, the environment, science, education, culture and health. Our two countries have conducted close cooperation at the United Nations, the WTO, G20, APEC and other multilateral mechanisms.
Our business ties have expanded from single commodity trade to diversified cooperation in all sectors. Our bilateral trade has grown from US$150 million in the early days of diplomatic relations to US$34.52 billion last year, reaching the target of bringing the bilateral trade to US$30 billion by 2010 set by our leaders two years ahead of schedule. China has become Canada's second largest trading partner, third largest export market and second largest source of imports. The high-quality yet inexpensive imports from China such as light industrial goods, textiles and a variety of consumer durables have enriched the daily lives of the Canadian people and saved them a lot of money. China's investment in Canada is also growing. Well-known Canadian companies such as Power Corporation, Bombardier and Alcan as well as financial institutions such as Sun Life, Manulife, Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank have established their presence in China and now enjoy booming business. The third phase of Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant is hailed as a model project of our cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Our people-to-people exchanges and contacts at the local level have been on the rise. China is now one of Canada's largest sources of immigrants and overseas students. There are a 1.4 million-strong Chinese community and nearly 60,000 Chinese students in Canada. The Chinese language has become the third largest language in Canada. We have established 44 pairs of sister provinces or cities. Each week, over 40 flights fly across the Pacific Ocean, linking Beijing and Shanghai with Vancouver and Toronto. Each day, more than 2,000 people travel between the two countries. Over 30 Canadian research centers across China have served as a window for the Chinese people to get to know Canada. In the same way, the five Confucius Institutes in Canada have enabled the Canadian people to study Chinese and learn about its culture. Here I wish to mention in particular the support of the Canadian government and people for the Chinese government and people in the wake of the massive earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan last year. Shortly after the earthquake, the federal and local governments of Canada announced several assistance measures and people from various sectors made generous donations. This fully reflects the humanitarian spirit of people of the two countries to support each other in the face of the devastating natural disaster and has greatly deepened the existing friendship between our two peoples. Let me take this opportunity to express, once again, our sincere thanks to the Canadian government and people.
A review of the growth of China-Canada relations shows that although our two countries differ in national conditions and do not always see eye to eye on everything, we should not let these differences stand in the way of our relations. And nor can they. As an old Chinese saying goes, harmony makes us close to each other and differences make us respect each other. Different civilizations and countries with different social systems should respect each other, seek common ground while shelving differences, draw on each other's strengths and pursue common development. It is important to respect world diversity, respect the right of people of all countries to choosing development paths of their own countries and not to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. As long as these principles are observed, China and Canada will keep to the right direction of their bilateral relations and promote sound and steady growth of the bilateral ties.
China-Canada relationship has not always been smooth in recent years. Yet, it is heartening to note, that with joint efforts, China-Canada relations are improving and growing. I want to mention in particular the important agreement on furthering China-Canada relations that President Hu Jintao and the Right Honorable Prime Minister Stephen Harper reached during their meeting at the G8 Outreach Session in Japan last July. It has given a strong boost to the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in all areas. Since that meeting, new progress has been made in our mutually beneficial cooperation in a host of areas, spanning economy, trade, energy, science and technology, health and education. Today, our bilateral relationship is showing fresh vitality and broader prospects.