Parliament for 2013
Richmond Electoral District
The following is a transcript of a speech made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, December 4, 2009, Shanghai, China:
Thank you, Stock, for your kind words of introduction. The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture. Members of the Parliament of Canada: the Honourable Michael Chong, Alice Wong, Andrew Saxton, John Weston, Bob Dechert and Darrell Kramp. Ambassadors Lan and Mulroney.
First of all, thanks to Mark Rowswell, our Master of Ceremonies for starting us off this evening. Mark is Canada’s Commissioner General for Expo 2010 here in Shanghai. I look forward to touring the Canadian Pavilion with you tomorrow, Dashan.
And a special thanks to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the Canada-China Business Council for co-hosting this evening’s event. It is indeed an honour to have been invited to speak before the group assembled this evening. And it is also indeed timely as we mark the one hundredth anniversary of the launch of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service in this city. As evidence of the success of this venture, I would note that Shanghai is now the base of operations for some 150 Canadian companies, many of which are represented here tonight.
And Shanghai boasts plenty of other superlatives: it is the largest city in China, the country’s economic engine, one of the fastest-growing places on earth and home to the world’s busiest cargo port. I have no doubt that next year, as Shanghai hosts the Expo, tens of millions of visitors will be treated to the best your world-class city has to offer.
Of course, Shanghai is but one stop on this, my first visit to China as Prime Minister. And it is yet another step, in the hundreds of meetings between officials – some 20 ministerial-level visits to this country – and numerous meetings I have held with President Hu Jintao at various international fora since our government took office in 2006.
My visit therefore reflects Canada’s commitment to enhancing and expanding our relations with China. For ours is a good and frank relationship based on mutual respect and the need for cooperation in today’s challenging world.
Ladies and gentlemen. Long ago, pointing to China on a map, Napoleon Bonaparte is famously said to have mused: “…there lies a sleeping giant. When she wakes, she will shake the world.” How prophetic those words have proven to be.
In the last three decades, since making the first tentative moves toward liberalization, China has been witness to the greatest surge in general prosperity in the history of mankind. More than four hundred million people have been lifted out of poverty. Over one hundred cities have grown to a population of more than a million. The economy, once directed entirely by the state, has become firmly market-oriented, and private enterprise has flourished. In fact, in the last thirty years, over five hundred-thousand foreign-funded businesses have registered in China.
I could go on, but the bottom line is this: there can be no mistaking the evidence. Today, ladies and gentlemen, China is truly awake – awake, and set to help shape the future of the entire world!
Canada has observed China’s remarkable rise over the course of a longstanding relationship. In the mid-nineteenth century, Chinese labourers were integral to the most important nation-building exercise in Canadian history – the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. And over the last hundred years some one million Chinese have immigrated to Canada.
Today, Chinese-Canadians enrich all aspects of our society, our democracy and our economy. For example, in Toronto, Chinese-Canadians, along with a large body of students and researchers from China, have helped to make our largest city a centre whose impact is felt throughout the world. And Vancouver has now become not just Canada’s, but North America’s gateway for Asia-Pacific trade – in significant part because of the enterprise of so many Chinese-Canadians. Indeed, through a solid work ethic, a dedication to family and community and a commitment to educational achievement, Chinese-Canadians are helping to secure Canada’s place in the 21st century.
In turn, Canada has contributed to China’s story. Canadian missionaries built hospitals and schools in China during the late 1800s. And a Canadian doctor, Norman Bethune, played a significant role in the history of this country. Canadian companies like Manulife and Sunlife pioneered economic networks throughout China more than one hundred years ago. Home-grown enterprises like Bombardier and SNC-Lavalin have been thriving here for decades. And, despite the significant tensions of the Cold War, Canada first negotiated contracts for the sale of wheat to China as far back as the government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. More recently, the strong ties between our countries allowed Canada to offer, following the earthquake last year, both significant public and private aid to the people in Sichuan province.
Ladies and gentlemen, even in these few examples, we see there is much shared history between Canada and China, history that has helped to shape both our countries. So it is not surprising that as China has opened up our economic ties have become extensive and expanding. Since 2005 alone, two-way merchandise trade between our countries has grown steadily each year by an average of more than 14 per cent. During this period, Canadian exports to China have grown by more than 3 billion dollars. Our total two-way trade is now valued at over 53 billion dollars. China is Canada’s second largest merchandise trading partner and our third largest export market.
To help continue growing this relationship, our government has recently dedicated over a billion dollars into trade infrastructure on our Pacific coast. What we call the Asia-Pacific Gateway is an integrated system of ports, airports, road and rail connections that link Asia deep into the heart of the North American marketplace. In fact, the west coast ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert are two and three days closer than their American competitors to key Asian ports like Shanghai.
Canada is also increasingly being seen by Chinese business leaders as a natural destination for investment. We are one of the best-positioned among the developed economies for a strong recovery. We have falling tax rates, a low debt-to-GDP ratio, one of the most welcoming environments for foreign investment in the world and the resources necessary to meet China’s ever-growing needs.
One area where Canada and China share mutually beneficial objectives is, of course, in the field of energy. Because there can be no mistake, to continue fueling its growth into the future China will need stable sources of power. And Canada is an emerging energy superpower, a major supplier of every type of energy, seventh in the world in crude oil producer – with the second largest proven reserves – third in natural gas production and the largest producer of uranium. Canada also has the resources and know-how necessary to adapt technology to a cleaner, greener, less carbon-intensive energy future.
Having recently overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, China has a vital interest in getting these technologies up and running. Indeed, this is an area where Canada and China are already working together, through the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.
Today, I am pleased to announce Canada’s second-round funding under this partnership. With the second phase of projects, Canada will have invested in twenty-eight clean technology projects worldwide, including fourteen new projects in or of benefit to China.
And yesterday, in the Great Hall of the People, Premier Wen and I witnessed the signing of an agreement to enhance cooperation between our two countries in combating climate change. Under the agreement, Canada and China will work together in areas such as energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, carbon capture and storage and methane recovery and utilization.
Ladies and gentlemen, through collaborations like these, Canada and China can demonstrate how to balance energy development and economic growth with environmental protection and can serve as an example of cooperation for the rest of the world.
We are also pleased that the Government of China has granted Canada Approved Destination Status. This is a measure that Canadian Governments have been seeking for over a decade. A measure that could generate up to a 50 per cent boost in tourism, and that is especially timely. As Canada prepares to welcome the world to Vancouver for the Winter Olympic Games, this new designation will encourage more Chinese tourists to discover all Canada has to offer.
And finally, Premier Wen and I were pleased yesterday also to witness the signing of an agreement to promote cultural cooperation between China and Canada, including the exchange of works of art, performing artists and writers. This agreement will create economic opportunity for the Canadian cultural sector and showcase Canadian culture in China. It is another instance of our two countries leading by example and working together for mutual benefit.
Of course, ladies and gentlemen, the biggest challenge facing both our countries – indeed facing all the world’s major economies – continues to be the global economic downturn. Our economies have held up well compared to the rest of the world. This was not, of course, by accident. Both Canada and China entered this period with strong government balance sheets, stable financial sectors and large, ongoing investments in critical infrastructure.
And both Canada and China have been strong contributors to the collective efforts of the G20 to foster a genuine, global recovery. We participated early in coordinated, international interest-rate reductions. And both our countries have engaged in the sizeable fiscal stimulus measures called for by the IMF and other global bodies. I look forward to welcoming President Hu to Canada next year when we host the next meeting of the G20.
Now more than ever, as tentative signs of recovery are emerging, Canada and China will need to keep our voices strong and united at the G20 table. The message we must impart during this critical period will be three-fold: first, we must urge fellow members to follow through on committed stimulus. Second, we must develop exit strategies to avoid inflation and asset bubbles. And third, perhaps most important, we must insist that all leaders stand firm against protectionist pressures.
We have seen movement toward protectionism, albeit modest, since this global recession began. But modest or otherwise, protectionism is the single greatest threat to long-term recovery for Canada, for China and for the entire world economy.
That’s why fighting protectionism and expanding trade have been top priorities of our government’s foreign policy. That’s why since taking office, we have aggressively pursued trade negotiations around the world, concluding agreements with eight countries, and launching discussions with numerous others.
The reason for this is simple: notwithstanding our current economic difficulties, the prosperity generated here in China and around the world in the past generation has been unprecedented. Removing protectionist barriers and easing trade restrictions have been key to ushering in this extraordinary era. Pursuing freer trade, therefore, is the most effective antidote we have to the current crisis. We welcome China’s decision to lift restrictions on Canadian pork, but ill-considered protectionist measures – like restrictions on canola imports – can only lead to increased pressures for retaliation and protectionism.
Now more than ever our two countries must work together to keep trade flowing. That’s why I’m pleased to announce that, in cooperation with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the Government of Canada is today launching four new trade offices in China. These offices are in addition to the two International Trade Minister Day launched in April. Together, they will enhance our ability to support even more commercial links in exports, investment and innovation between our two countries. This announcement is another concrete step our government is taking toward enhancing and expanding our economic ties with China.
As economic power and human prosperity spreads from West to East, Canada’s trade orientation is shifting also. In the 19th and 20th centuries, our economy was built largely on trans-Atlantic trade. But it is clear that in the 21st century, trans-Pacific trade will increasingly fuel our economic growth.
But ladies and gentlemen, just as trade is a two-way street, so too is dialogue. Our government believes, and has always believed, that a mutually beneficial economic relationship is not incompatible with a good and frank dialogue on fundamental values like freedom, human rights and the rule of law. In fact, in our experience they go hand in hand, increasingly so, as economies progress. Canada, while far from perfect, is one of the most peaceful, pluralistic and prosperous democracies the world has ever known. To Canadians, these attributes are inseparable, and Canadians of Chinese origin participate as fully in them as any of our citizens.
And so, in relations between China and Canada, we will continue to raise issues of freedom and human rights, and be a vocal advocate and an effective partner for human rights reform, just as we pursue the mutually beneficial economic relationship desired by both our countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the centre of gravity of the world economy swings toward the Pacific, Pacific nations like Canada and China have much to gain by increased cooperation. Now is the time to enhance and expand our relationship, to build upon our mutual successes and to use the authority those successes have afforded us to set an example for others in the world.
I will conclude tonight, with an invitation to all Chinese. We are anxious to return your Olympic hospitality. Come and visit Canada next year as we host the twenty-first Winter Olympic Games. Come and enjoy Vancouver, famously rated the world’s most liveable city. And come to Canada, and see for yourself the possibilities and the potential.
Thank you again for the invitation to speak this evening, and for your warm hospitality here in Shanghai.
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