Harper’s China visit injects new momentum into bilateral ties

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper starts a five-day visit to China on Tuesday. He is expected to meet top Chinese leaders and discuss expansion of bilateral cooperation in various sectors.

The visit, which will be the second such tour by Harper as Canadian prime minister, is set to inject new momentum into growing China-Canada relations.

Bilateral cooperation and exchanges have witnessed vigorous development since Harper’s first China visit in December 2009, five years after the previous China visit by a Canadian prime minister.

Bilateral trade surged 60 percent in the last two years and hit a record high of almost 50 billion U.S. dollars in 2011. With China’s approval of Canada as a “preferred tourism destination” in 2010, the number of Chinese tourists to Canada increased by over 20 percent, helping Canada’s tourism industry shake off the adverse impact of the global financial crisis.

And according to statistics by the Canadian side, China invested a total of 14.1 billion Canadian dollars in Canada in 2010, up from 12.9 billion in 2009 and 5.7 billion in 2008. China ranks the sixth after the United States, the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland, France and Japan.

As a sign of enhanced political mutual trust, exchange of high-level visits have also become more frequent since then, highlighted by Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Canada in June 2010, when leaders of the two nations decided to further promote the China-Canada strategic partnership in an all-round manner.

One thing undisputable is that the growth in China-Canada ties has brought concrete benefits to both nations and at the same time promoted peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and for the whole world.

However, for the train of bilateral ties to go forward unhindered, a core precondition is that the two sides have to always treat each other with respect, accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns and appropriately handle sensitive issues.

Differences aside, there is no conflict of fundamental interests between China and Canada and it’s hoped the two countries make their relationship a model for relations between countries of different social systems and mode of development.

by Wang Haiqing

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