Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay left Beijing Tuesday morning after making a fresh effort to iron out some sensitive issues in bilateral relations with China.
His visit has brought about no apparent signs of immediate resolution of these issues. But both China and Canada agreed to maintain bilateral exchanges and dialogue at all levels on a basis of a forward-looking attitude.
During his three-day stay in Beijing, Mackay met with State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and held talks with newly installed Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
"We hope the two sides make joint efforts to properly handle the major sensitive issues, to promote a lasting, healthy and steady development of China-Canada strategic partnership," Tang was quoted by foreign ministry sources as saying during a meeting with Mackay on Monday.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not elaborate what exactly the sensitive issues are, but China has voiced concern on potential impact that the issues might have on bilateral relations.
The China-Canada relationship now is at a "crucial juncture with both opportunities and challenges ahead", Tang said. He said the two countries should regard and treat bilateral relations from a "strategic" and "long-term" perspective, and seek common grounds while reserving differences.
In his talks with Mackay on Monday, Foreign Minister Yang said that China will work with Canada to properly handle disputes and sensitive issues so as to advance bilateral strategic partnership.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said last Thursday China hopes Canada would not interfere in its internal affairs, referring to the case of Huseyin Celil, a China-born Uygur and a prominent member of the "East Turkistan" terrorist organization.
Celil was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 19 for plotting to split the country and ten years for taking part in terrorist activities.
Canada claims Celil, 37, was given Canadian citizenship in 2001 but China does not recognize it. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in 2006 and extradited to China soon after.
Liu said the Celil case was part of China's internal affairs, and China had reiterated its stance over the issue to Canada many times.
Mackay arrived in Beijing Sunday for his first visit to China and also the first visit by a Canadian foreign minister to China in four years.
During his visit, China and Canada agreed to deepen cooperation in various fields and strengthening consultations on major international issues. The two sides also exchanged views on issues on United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan.