President Hu's Canadian visit to help warm 'cool' ties

08:04, June 23, 2010      

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President Hu Jintao leaves Beijing on Wednesday for a short state visit to Canada to improve ties and tap the potential for the two countries to cooperate better on a range of global issues.

Hu is also scheduled to attend the G20 meeting in Toronto from June 26 to 27 and join others in pushing for global economic recovery and financial reform.

The strained ties between Beijing and Ottawa started to warm when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited China last December.

Ottawa had aggressively criticized Beijing for its human rights record, but after the financial meltdown last year its tone softened slightly, asserting that "new global realities demand a modernized Canada-China relationship" and it began to downplay rights-related issues.

It is the first visit by the Chinese president since Harper and his Conservative party took power in 2006.

Harper and Hu will meet on Thursday to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest, according to the prime minister's office.

"Canada and China are laying the groundwork for a new decade of growth by deepening cooperation in a wide number of areas," Harper said in a statement released earlier.

"It is a fitting tribute to 40 years of diplomatic relations based on mutual respect and collaboration."

Hu's visit comes as Canada and China prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, said Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas earlier this week.

The president's visit will be an important part of the celebration, he said.

"Trade between Canada and China is at its highest level ever, and is expanding, along with investment," he said.

Sources said the two countries are expected to sign a slate of contracts on energy, telecommunication industries and tourism.

The Edmonton Journal reported on Tuesday that Canada's struggling tourism sector may soon get a boost as the two countries may finally be close to signing a deal in which China will grant Approved Destination Status to Canada.

The decision would mean Chinese people can travel to Canada with tourist visas instead of business visas.

A statement announcing the fourth Canada-China Business Forum in Ottawa also said that "hundreds of senior Chinese executives from big and small firms will accompany President Hu to Ottawa," according to the Toronto Star website.

Media observed that the state visit to Canada by the president of China is a strong signal of improving relations between the two countries.

There are 1.3 million people of Chinese ancestry living in Canada as well as over 42,000 Chinese students studying in Canada.

After the visit, Hu is expected to join other developed and developing economies at the G20 meeting in Toronto. Developed and emerging economies are split on the major agenda of the meeting, with the developed ones asking the developing ones to pay the bill for their economic woes while the developing countries emphasize reform of the global financial system.

According to the Chinese foreign ministry, China expects the G20 summit to push the International Monetary Fund to give more representation and voice to emerging markets and developing countries and deepen the reform of the international financial supervision system.

Opposition to trade protectionism and completion of the Doha round of trade talks will be emphasized in Hu's speech, said the ministry.

Hu is also likely to meet United States President Barack Obama, newly-elected British Prime Minister David Cameron and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, as the later two make their international debuts at the G8 and G20 meetings.

Source:China Daily


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