A growing Chinese middle class is not only good for China, but for the world, Dalton McGuinty, premier of Canada’s Ontario province, told press in an interview Saturday.
It is McGuity’s fourth trade mission to the country and his fifth China trip. Asked about the most impressive changes he had seen in China since his first traveled here, he said every time he came, there were more highways, more subways, more airports, and the cities were getting bigger.
“There is a mass migration of people from the countryside and into the cities. This creates challenges for leaders who are trying to manage this migration to ensure there is an economic opportunity, and to ensure there is a distribution of wealth,” he said.
“So I see growth and I see challenges of growth, but I also see more Chinese becoming part of the middle class, making a bit more money and enjoying a better quality of life,” he said.
McGuinty and his team came to China to seek more business opportunities for companies from his province.
According to a press release from his office, Canadian companies from Ontario have signed new business agreements worth 800 million U.S. dollars with Chinese partners.
Yet, the premier also said the two sides could tap even more potential in the agri-food business.
“Canada has very high quality standards for our food. They are highly trusted internationally,” the premier said, adding they wanted to bring to the Chinese market “safe, trusted and nutritious” infant formula, as well as chicken and beef products.
Speaking of the problems facing two-way trade, the Canadian official said China was excluding poultry products from Ontario, adding the two sides had been in communication over the issue.
“I hope that within the next several months China will open the door to Ontario poultry products,” he said.
When asked about his administration’s efforts to promote the development of clean energy resources, McGuinty said 25 percent electricity generation in his province was coal-based nine years ago when he first became premier. Now it was less than 1 percent.
“We have secured 27 billion dollars of new investment in clean energy industry that creates tens of thousands of new jobs in the clean sector,” he said.
He also said people in Ontario had accepted nuclear power as an important part of their energy plan, adding that harnessing the power of wind and the sun was good but it was not enough, and Ontario’s half-a-century experience could prove that nuclear power was safe and stable.
On bilateral energy cooperation, McGuinty said the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding for science and technology on Friday, and hopefully that would lead to joint investment in clean energy research.
“There are all kinds of opportunities for us to participate in clean energy cooperation because, ultimately, there is just one air shed … one water basin … we all have an interest in it, to do what we can to protect the environment,” he said.
Last year, two Chinese students were killed in Canada, triggering concerns over students’ safety in the North American nation as more and more Chinese students choose Canada for further studies.
The premier’s response was: “We have strong laws in Canada and these laws are enforced. It is very unfortunate that there was a loss of life, and I know that the Canadian authorities will do everything they can to deal with the criminal involved, to prosecute the case and to make sure that a proper penalty is there.”